A Time Such as This

I’m about to get really real with y’all right now, and it’s going to be raw and honest, so it probably won’t be pretty.

First, some context.

I am a white woman born in the northeast, from a city that homed the likes of Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony. Of course I do not claim we don’t know racism – Rochester was also the home of the 1964 Race Riots, after all. The conclusion of which brought a much needed awakening to the racial injustices of the city, and led to many great civil rights breakthroughs. So it is safe to say that as far as deeply rooted racism goes, I am somewhat removed.

In the suburbs where I grew up, I never personally heard or witnessed racism.

My family has always believed that all men and women are created equal, and should all be treated with love and respect, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or skin color.

As a result of this nice little bubble – and it was nice – I believed that racism by and large was an issue contained to a barbaric past.

I also have family members who have served and are currently serving in law enforcement, and I have witnessed the same respect from them that I have come to know from anyone else in my family. So because of what I know of them, I have believed that police officers were trustworthy and well intentioned – and I still believe that most of them are.

When the more recently publicized black killings began – beginning with Trayvon Martin – I admit that I have believed that, while I didn’t understand the details, something must have happened that warranted the actions taken. Race had nothing to do with it – it was about a criminal engaging in illegal activity, who subsequently lost their lives for it. I believed that those who cried racism and oppression were simply looking for justification for their actions.

I have friends, precious friends, who are colored, and I love them deeply. But, when I spent weeks and months reading about white privilege and white oppression and white injustice, it began to frustrate and harden me. What diddo to be scorned? Why is this my problem? I’ve never engaged in racism a day in my life! Not one single encounter with someone of color has been disrespectful or unkind or racist in any way. When I saw my white friends talking about how we whites should be mourning with those who are mourning, and trying to listen to the pain and suffering of those from the black community about these issues, I scoffed. I refused to believe this was a race issue. I believed it was a crime issue that was making race a scapegoat. I told you this wouldn’t be pretty, but bear with me just a little longer.

One of my most cherished friends is Latina, but she is married to a black man, and they have children together. I respect this person highly, and I find her to be one of the wisest women I know, so when she started sharing her frustration and heartache, it frustrated me that she was “jumping on the bandwagon” and I wanted to just yell “WHY!?” Because I knew she wouldn’t say things for a reaction or out of irrational emotion.

It weighed on me for days. So finally, I just asked.

I asked her to explain it to me. What am I missing? What am I not seeing? I asked her to help me understand.

And she did. So patiently, so gently, she shared with me her heart, her stories, her family’s stories. And I listened.

When we were done I spent so much time thinking and reflecting. That conversation began to change my perspective. Now when I read these stories and statuses and declarations of injustice, I fought that urge to cast aside under my false assumptions, and I tried to listen, and I tried to understand.

And I hear now.

Maybe it’s because I’m looking with different eyes, or maybe it’s because the actions are getting more blatantly unjust, but these past few days I have seen and heard and felt what has been said all this time. Racism is alive and well, and it’s time for us to wake up and do something about it again.

I have long said that I think I would have been an Abolitionist in the Civil War era – but the Civil War had it’s abolitionist. We need to be them again now.

We need to mourn with our brothers and sisters. We need to listen. We need to validate, and we need to stand. We need to stand on their side. This doesn’t mean we must stand against law enforcement – the majority of those men and women are good and brave and respectful of all human life. But we cannot keep our heads buried in the sand and pretend that what we’re seeing isn’t actually happening.

I have asked a few of these beloved sisters what we can do. What can I, a white woman, do to help? And I have been told that they believe we need to call out oppression when we see it. We need to hold injustice accountable. We need to call a spade a spade.

If we are born white or wealthy or free, it has been for a reason. It is for a time such as this. To end slavery, to end trafficking, to end racial oppression. We have a voice, and many of us have an outlet with which to use it.

And all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

We have to stop doing nothing.

We have to cast off complacency.

We are one flesh, one body, one people.

I’m not asking people to turn their backs on the police, I am asking you to set aside your preconceived notions and to truly watch and listen. Remove your biases and your assumptions, and hear the hearts of our fellow men and women.

So, to my colored brothers and sisters. I am so sorry it took me so long to hear you. But I’m listening now, and I will stand with you in whatever capacity you need, to help you find the justice and respect that you deserve. You are loved, you are worthy, and your life matters to me.


Learning How to Let Go

The girls start dance tomorrow. Irish Dance, actually, which we opted for over ballet this time around, and I’m really excited. The idea of Celtic music and french braids and jigs has my heart all aflutter.

Well, half of me, anyway.

The other half? Terrified. Nail biting, pacing back and forth, mind racingly scared. It sounds ridiculous, I know. A billion other 5 year olds dance every day, this is not by any means a phenomenon, and I’m sure once we get past that first day everything is going to be beautiful, but right now I’m brown-paper-bag breathing.

It will be the first time that I’ve left my kids out in the real world without me. They will be on their own with other kids and new adults and while I won’t be far (we’re talking a few feet) there will be a door and a wall between us, and so for all intents and purposes they will be without me. This happens, right? Most kids have already gone to preschool at new places, getting ready for Kindergarten, and so I’m sure to anyone reading this, this entire experience is a little pathetic.

How can I explain this… how can I put into words the way living a life with sick children can put such a mark on you?

From the moment they were created, to day one of their already too early lives, to years later still, I have had to fight for my children. In every way I can mean this. I have dug and fought in the trenches for their health and their lives. When my body kept one from growing, I had to fight it. I had to lie still, pumped full of artificial supplement, shots and treatments. I had to fight against my own body to bring my children into this world.

When they were born with flawed hearts, I fought on my knees. I have never prayed so fervently, so desperately. I researched, advocated, and stayed by their sides in those tiny hospital beds. I knew every risk of every procedure they proposed, I armed myself with more knowledge than a new mother should have to endure. Then when two babies both, not even 2 months old, underwent surgeries, I fought one of the toughest spiritual battles of my life – those waiting rooms were my Gethsemane.

A year later I fought again for my daughter, I fought to keep her fed and thriving when her body rejected it all. I fought against skepticism and doubt of my judgement. I took on the role of full time advocate while keeping careful watch over her declining situation, and I made sure she was noticed. And then, when they wanted to cut her apart, to take risks, I fought against it. I researched again, I advocated, I fought against egos who sought to put their pride above her life, and I made sure she got the best care possible. We rallied and we prayed that God would move. And I went into Gethsemane again. I prostrated myself and begged for mercy. I barely breathed for so long.

And then when we struggled to speak and walk and grow, I advocated and fought again.

And it’s only by God’s grace that we’re here now, today. So many miracles, so many answered prayers.

I am well seasoned now in the art of Maternal Warfare.

I am conditioned to fighting for my children’s lives – in a spiritual and physical sense.

And I am struggling with laying down that sword.

How do you let go what you have had to fight for so long to hold on? When you have looked down into the face of your child so many times and promised them you’d never let go? That they were safe with you, that you will fight for them?

To send them into the care of others… to let them wander out from under an ever watchful hedge of protection. Even for an hour once a week… this is proving to be one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.

To trust someone else with the lives I’ve dedicated my own to protecting.

I didn’t think it would be so hard. I didn’t think this would be something I even noticed, and so this flood of emotion has taken me by surprise. It’s only now that I realized that I’ve never actually let my guard down.

But this is life, and no matter how much I continue to will time to stand still, it won’t. I know that one day they will venture beyond my reach, and I need to begin to teach them how to walk without my hand.

And so tomorrow I start the process of learning how to let go. For an hour anyway.

A Stormy Dawn

November has come to Western New York with a cold rainy acerbity, and I feel almost as if my countenance is to blame. To be sure, I’ve felt like I’m living beneath a grey sodden blanket of my own.

October was Infertility and Loss Awareness month, so I suppose this post is a few days too late; but then I never have been accused of being trendy.

Infertility and Loss Awareness. What does that even mean? What point is there to being aware of loss? I couldn’t say. Other than, perhaps, it is our attempt as a whole to feel understood.

We all have a story to tell, and I suppose that when we set aside time to create an awareness what we’re really doing is setting a stage where our story can be told. We want to be heard. To be understood. Maybe because in feeling understood we find it’s a doorway to feeling loved. And when we suffer, when we hurt, all we want is to be caught up in a love so rich that it will somehow dull the incessantly throbbing ache.

Since my twins were a little over a year I knew that I was done. No more kids for me, no how, no way. I thought it would be a miracle if we made it out of infanthood unscathed. As luck would have it we did. But the days were still long, and while there was unspeakable joy and delight, those moments percolated the nearly unbearably long stretches of physical and mental assault that is motherhood. Chandeliers were being pulled from the ceiling, poop was *still* being painted like a Monet on bedroom walls. No, no more kids, thankyouverymuch. We were so sure of it that we even decided to take more permanent measures to ensure it. As it turned out I had some cysts that needed to be taken care of, so to tie things off permanently would be easy.

A few days before, though, I found myself stuck in a mire of doubt. Something had been changing over those past months. The ones that crept towards a 4th birthday. I’d discovered that my babies had begun to really grow. They walk with me at stores now. They eat their own meals. The dress themselves. They even know how to turn on their own movies. It felt like the dust had begun to settle, and as the air cleared I heard the faintest breath of a whisper “maybe I could do this again”. And that was enough for me to call off the procedure. I would just take care of the cysts and we would talk about it from there.

But it was too late. Those cysts had overtaken more than their fair share, and on May 23rd the numbing effects of the anesthesia were replaced by the shock of the news that I would not, in fact, be doing this again. That chance was gone now.

And I am still grieving.

And I feel so misunderstood.

It’s so easy to say “but you should be thankful you have kids at all!” as though lives and children are somehow interchangeable. As though mourning loss means you cannot simultaneously celebrate life.

“But you didn’t even want any more!” This one stings. Partially because I did believe that, and partially because it’s being used to somehow extenuate the significance of something I’m feeling so pointedly.

It’s true. My trenches ran a little deeper, a little wider, and a little further than most. Maybe because the battles were always twice as hard. The nights twice as long. The hills twice as steep. Maybe because I was emotionally depleted from spending the first few years of my childrens’ lives worrying about significant health issues. Maybe my recovery time was longer than most.

But that was then, and my dawn is finally here. And it’s come with rain.

My heart is overwhelmed by a desire that my body will never see come to fruition, and it is broken.

I keep asking myself what the point is in writing this. What will it change? What am I hoping to accomplish?

The honest answer is – nothing.

I think maybe I just want to be heard. Maybe I just want to be understood – because in feeling understood we find it’s a doorway to feeling loved. And in the middle of a harrowing storm, where my brokenness is exposed, all I want is to be caught up in love.

Sorry, Not Sorry.

I’ve gotten into this nasty habit lately of apologizing for my kids. Not just during the appropriate times – you know, like when they nearly shoulder check old ladies to the ground at the supermarket – but all the time. I make jokes about how crazy they are, how they must traumatize their peers with their antics; anything I can to try and prove that I really am a good mother, I swear!

I have long since played the comparison game, where I mentally force my daughters to go head-to-head with every other 4 year old I know, and see just how well they measure up in the socially-acceptable arena. It seemed like my kids were not up to snuff, and more often than not I would end up feeling like I needed to apologize for them being… well… themselves. Restaurants, parks, stores, no matter the time or place, my kids just never seemed to be as “proper” as other kids.

I started realizing how much I do this just this past 4th of July. We went to see the fireworks at our local park; it was the girls’ first time seeing them and we found the perfect spot perched on a hill and waited for the show to start. To my delight the girls were over the moon about them. They squealed and loudly oooh’d and aaahhh’d at every new color and sound, and I was absolutely swooning over what a perfect moment it was. That is until I caught wind of the people sitting closest to us complaining about how loud they thought my kids were being, and that they hoped it wasn’t going to be like this the whole time. Immediately I felt like I should have been embarrassed, look at how disruptive my kids were being! So I mouthed a silent “Sorry!” at them and began trying to shush the girls, to no avail. Nothing could temper their excitement. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized how wrong the whole thing was. They weren’t being disruptive, they were overjoyed! And it wasn’t a movie theater, for goodness sakes!

I have come to realize how completely unfair I have been to my kids by always making them out to be creatures whose very existences should be apologized for. That somehow their personalities are a problem. That their character is too passionate.

And to be frank, I’m done.

Sorry, but I’m not sorry.

I’m not sorry that they are brave, that they don’t shy away from the not-so-proverbial ledge.

I’m not sorry that they never try to temper their joy.

I’m not sorry that they are so eagerly affectionate.

I’m not sorry that they’re more energetic than some other kids.

I’m not sorry that they’re strong willed and fiery spirited.

I’m not sorry.

Because those beautiful souls of mine? They’re gifts. Exactly the way they are.

Some traits are learned or are products of environment and nurture. Some things, though… some things are woven into their very beings by a Creators hands, intricately and intentionally knitted with purpose.

And those crazy brave girls? Maybe one day they’ll reach into the darkest scariest places of the world, where others wouldn’t dare to go, to shine for Jesus.

Those wild ones? They totally and completely own themselves in every way. That there isn’t a scrap of self-consciousness in their bodies, and they welcome and accept without prejudice.

They love crazy. They will be the first to take your hand and the last to let you go.

Those girls have a zeal for life that I adore.

They aren’t always dainty or prim, they’re not afraid to climb a tree or play in the mud, and there’s not a frog yet that they haven’t squealed over in delight.

They shout too loudly about the beauty of the stars and the God who made them.

They burst into gleeful renditions of Jesus Loves Me before collapsing into an unladylike heap on the grass, rolling and laughing and snorting.

They are a force to be reckoned with, courageous and faithful to a fault.

They are going to give the enemy a run for his money.

My kids are not perfect, Lord knows, and there are a hundred things in the future that we’ll need to apologize for.

But who they are?

Never again.

Sorry, but I’m not sorry.

When Worship Sounds Like Screaming

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a really good worship session – mostly due to not being in a local congregation right now – and I’ve been missing that closeness I tend to only feel when I’m over my head in song, hands raised unabashedly in surrender. So today I sent the girls into their playroom to play while I assembled the chili for tonight’s dinner, setting up my Praise station on Spotify before getting to work on the onions and peppers. If there’s anything that draws the song from my heart it’s music and cooking.

Every so often I peeked in on the girls to answer a question or settle a disagreement, but mostly they were doing well entertaining themselves. Felling satisfied with their behavior, I closed my eyes and let myself sway to the music; it wasn’t long before I was belting out along with Christy Nockels. I was relishing the peace and calm, and was about to really sing my heart out to my favorite part of the song when somewhere from the playroom there came a CRASH, and a high pitched scream from a little girl beginning a tantrum.

Immediately my peace evaporated. Anger came rushing in, and I began to storm into the playroom ready to verbally unleash on the two children who interrupted my worship time.

Just five minutes! Is that too much to ask?!

Just before I crossed the kitchen threshold, though, the Holy Spirit overwhelmed me. In an instant the Father graciously and lovingly rebuked me.

The songs don’t matter. This is worship. This laying down your life for the sake of your children in My name; this is the worship that I love. Let your worship be seen in the way that you love the least of them.

And it humbled me.

I think about the sweetest fragrances in life, how they can only be found through crushing; being intentionally broken apart and pressed down.

So is the aroma of my worship.

In the moments when I’m pressed, and continue to live out worship; those are the sweetest to Him.

So, sweet mama, I just want to stop and encourage you. Maybe you’re out there feeling like I was today, and if you are then stop, take a deep breath and remember; among the mess and the imperfections and the frustration, He sees the beauty of what you are so carefully cultivating – and sometimes worship can sound a whole lot like screaming.

The Winsome Little Old House

Most of the time, as a writer, when I pen something that I find witty or intriguing or heartfelt, I share it with as many people as I can, because words come to life when they’re shared. Sometimes, though, sometimes I write things that are carved directly out of my soul, and I keep them close to my chest. I wrap my arms around them like protective covers shielding them from the critical and often unforgiving commentaries of the world. They remain my hidden treasures. This is one such a piece. It is a reflection of my heart and soul in words unlike almost anything I’ve ever written before. I have wanted to keep it for myself, but tonight I am persuaded that words are meant to be light and life to the world, and they cannot shine if we refuse to let them out of our drawers. So tonight I show you a piece of my soul, and I hope it inspires beauty of your own.


There is a winsome little old house that I know of out in the country. Alighted, she sits presiding over genuflecting hills, and each morning the sun crowns her billowing chimney. Cloaked in charm and weathered brick, she is tried and true. Open armed her whitewashed porch spreads, eager to envelop the world-worn in her convalescing embrace; “come and rest,” she beckons.

Her scarlet door shines as a beacon to the lost and weary; a door that is without lock. To step across the threshold is to fall into assuaging solace. She is guardian of memories past, and Muse of those yet to come. Her floors have been well tread and her walls painted in laughter. In the kitchen, her heart, there is an earthen vessel where stew is simmering, and in the belly of the oven there are loaves of bread crusting golden. The dining room curtains have been drawn back and an elongated worn oak table is set; a portrait of invitation offered through expansive windows. From the beaten path there can be seen the glow of warmth and welcome. Souls will gather here soon, and this winsome little old house will shelter each one; watchful and protective.

Flushed cheeks are kissed, and fervent embraces draw sojourners inward as winter rushes to greet them in their haven. Her inherent warmth permeates frigid hearts; melodically she breathes life back into the listless. She revels in the reacquaintance of these too long removed kith. Chairs are filled, cups run over and bowls are found bottomless; worries melt beside waxen candles, while outside tempest winds summon a bitter storm. It is easy to linger here, where neither soul nor appetite is left in want.

As the sun and endurances wane a blithe host ushers the fellowship inward still, to an intimate room where over-plushed couches wait, ready to cradle satiated bodies. Books and pillows are strewn about as every chair and cushion is nestled into; nary a clock in sight.

Infused teas and pressed coffees are passed to and fro, while soft murmurs meld with crackles from the hearth. This is a place where stories are chronicled and imaginations are regaled with adventures past. This is a place of unveiled secrets and discovered mysteries. Hymns are sung and lithe hands enliven ivory keys. Hearts are rendered deferential here, souls are quieted, and love covers the multitudes.

When the air is thick with tranquility and eyelids are heavy, gentle hands guide the way through arched corridors, where there are found a myriad of cozy nooks. Every room is draped in obsidian, perforated only by the ebbing glow from a fire’s remains. Thick pillows await dream filled heads, and heavy warmed quilts adorn the many beds that will soon lull their companions to sleep. One by one they surrender to the enchantments of night, and soon the last of the guest room doors is latched. Every soul is at rest, and all is still in the winsome little old house.

A candle illuminates a long narrow corridor that winds and weaves beyond the bedrooms, stealing away into the deeps of the home; and then, at the very last, comes upon a white wooden door. The iron latch clicks; heavy and creaking the door yawns open, revealing an esoteric place. Tucked away in the furthest recesses of the house the modest room sits, waiting, enduringly benevolent. It is bathed in a warm glow emanated by a fervently burning hearth fire. Beside it, in the midst of the room, a solid wooden desk faces a sweeping picture window, where naught but the continuous smattering of snow against the glass can be seen. The door is locked behind and the soul begins to drink in the beauty of this hallowed place.

Pen and paper fan the desk top, a writer’s empty canvass. The heavy chair is settled into and, with eyes closed, the fire’s fervor penetrates skin and bone, ministering a placid spirit. At first the words come slow and thick; literary molasses; carefully thought and overthought; but soon the ink flows candidly in familiar rhythm. Page upon page is filled with an impassioned heart’s musings; tears and laughter and innermost secrets are felt freely here, in this place where there is room only for truth and brevity. Hours rush by with ferocity as lives and legacies are penned and committed to print and heart. Every chapter lays anchor to her very foundation. With every confession the pride of men is flushed out in tears. With every love letter strength is renewed. It is upon the shoulders of this place that the winsome little old house builds her very heritage.

Through the frost bitten windows a glow has appeared; darkness is acquiescing to dawn. Intensity abates with a contemplative sigh; all that was had has been given; a soul has surrendered here, to these pages. Upon rising from the wooden desk and approaching the window, the world and its roads are found to have disappeared from sight; blanketed in a repentance that glistens white beneath the pastel hues of morning.

With a last demure glance behind, the door closes and the room lies again silently, clandestinely, in wait for another night.

Down the hall the house is stirring; guests will soon be rising. Coffee is pressed and once again set on the dining table; there are dreams to be heard, now.

These travelers, they come and go; some stay for years, others merely pass through. At times the house resonates with life, and others it sits in reflective stillness. But there is always a room kept waiting for me, in a winsome little old house that I know of, somewhere deep in my soul.

The Strong Little Princess (or Why We Bought Our Daughters a Tool Kit This Year)

My daughter sits on the floor, lithe legs tucked beneath her knees, as her baby curls reflect the soft morning light. She is rapt with new treasures recently unwrapped and unboxed; an eclectic assortment of trinkets.
She is dressed head to toe as the princess that her Daddy and I think she is, and accessorized with a tool belt and stethoscope. Toy cars, baby dolls, and play hammers are scattered around her.
Though to the onlooker it may appear to be the sort of collection you might find at a rummage sale, but when we were considering gifts this year we chose carefully and intentionally.

I am ever the dreamer; my heart belongs first to Jesus, then my family, but then to Disney. I can twirl with the best of them, and my girls know the Tangled soundtrack manuscript by heart – which I may or may not enthusiastically encourage (and participate in).

I am all about hopes, and dreams, and true love’s first kiss. If I could dance in a ballroom in a flowing gown, you can bet I would, and I am not ashamed to pass that on to my daughters.

They are daughters of The King, after all.

But they are also fiercely strong – strong muscled, strong willed, strong hearted, strong minded. No damsels in distress, these princesses.

The hundreds of doctors’ appointments – accompanied by the creation of a certain intelligent and charming toy doctor – have left them with a fascination of stethoscopes and checkups.

The time spent helping Daddy with his home improvement projects have led to a curiosity of hammers and nails, and visits with older cousins have encouraged a Hot Wheels interest – all of which we eagerly encourage.

Because we want them to know that being girly is anything but weak.

That they can be powerful in their femininity, graceful in their strength.

They can be bold and meek, intelligent and humble.

That it’s perfectly ok to go from work boots to high heels.

That an elegant homemaker can know how to change a tire.

That they do not have to choose between being peaceful and confident, or vivacious and modest.

I want to teach them how to be resolute and respectful.

How to open their hands and hearts, and then be still and wait for love to pour in – and when to pursue love passionately.

That they can be both the princess and the heroine.

Because they have been fearfully and wonderfully made to live life fearlessly by a Wonderful Maker.

We watched them race cars in their flowing dresses, and then burst into fits of laughter listening to each other’s’ hearts,

and I think it was a morning well spent.

On Getting Deep Again

It’s threatening winter here today and, despite the fact that it’s not even four pm yet, I’m sitting here in a darkened living room staring out my windows at a grey sky. The husband is gone and the toddlers are napping so it’s quiet here, and it’s cold. I thought about getting up from my oversized chair to turn the heat up a bit, but instead I’ve pulled the blanket tighter over my bare toes and curl my legs a little more, because I just can’t muster the gumption to break the stillness. Or maybe that’s just Wisdom telling me to stay put.

Because I’m thinking this afternoon. I’m thinking and I’m feeling. In this dark quiet cold room beneath a dark cold sky I’m thinking, and feeling, and reflecting. It’s been a month since Allume, which is great because that means I’m a month closer to the next one, but I’m a month further from it too, and life is sneaking back in. Not that there wasn’t life at Allume – oh, there was so much life – but now there are kids and dishes and homework and errands and a lamentably scarce number of keynote speakers waking me up in the morning.

I’ve re-started my 40 day challenge three times now, and if I’m honest I should probably re-start it again. I’m beginning to feel like this 40 day thing is really going to be a life-time lesson that I am constantly trying to discipline myself in. 40 days of focusing purely on Christ and Abba. 40 days of no distractions. And the only time I read my bible this week was yesterday in the waiting room of the doctor’s office because I was anxious.

When I came back from Allume I was BURSTING with words to write and stories to tell. They were flowing faster than I could capture them and I was reveling in it in utter joy. And the weeks immediately following were the same, because I was so intent on staying IN HIM like I was at the conference. A place where my soul was fed with gospel and grace and challenged for hours and hours every day. I was drinking straight from the deep narrow river.

But now my river is wide and shallow again. I get frustrated when the words don’t come for my writing. I get jealous of others who still write beautifully every day. I get envious of their natural talent.

But in this cold dark room Wisdom is telling me that the wise know to draw from the deep places. They know that the deep places are only found in the quiet innermost parts of the wood. Places you do not just happen upon. Places we have to seek out. The Holy Spirit has shown me that I am utterly incapable of doing this on my own. And I mean that literally.

There are people who can, technically, write well and continuously even if they are not yielding to Yahweh. We always suffer when we distance ourselves, and our struggle may be greater, but I know of many writers who can still manage to put words to page even when they’re not in perfect fellowship with God.

But not me. When my fellowship is neglected the words just stop. I search and grasp in the dark air and come up completely empty. Without His fellowship, without His leading, and unless He fills me every single day, I am dry and brittle.

I’m reminded of Moses when Israel went to battle with the Amalekites. The Lord only gave Moses victory when he was in direct worship to Yahweh. As soon as his hands dropped he simultaneously gave up the power to win.

I realize now more than I ever have that when my hands drop… when my priorities change… when I am not completely immersed in holiness and fellowship and worship with the Author of my soul… I have lost the power to speak.

It’s discipline, really. It’s forced humility. He has given me a gift to use for, and only for, His name. To speak His words. To write His stories. It’s not about my followers, or my fame, or my connections, or “my talent”. This is not about me, and when it becomes about me, He shuts it down and waits patiently until I turn around and settle back down at His feet and listen.

Today the lines between correction and lavishing grace are indistinguishably blurred.

Today, I think, I have grown.

The Birth of a Story

With the first beat of a heart life begins. Small, callow, and growing – alive.

It all starts there. In that one instant when the Creator reaches down into the created and ignites a spark.

In the beginning the spinning and weaving is done clandestinely.

In the quiet places that are known only to the Author and Artist Himself, a wild wind is breathing life.

A soul has already begun to live before the flesh has even manifested.

And when it emerges it bursts forth with a ferocity and power and purpose all its own; crying out to be heard and nurtured and fed.

This is the way that stories are born.

When we open ourselves to His work…it is that exact moment when our story’s heart beats for the first time.

It evolves there quietly, mostly while we are still unaware of its existence. It is a time of pruning, and shaping, and inner workings, because He knows what we will need to walk this path.

So for a time we are still and silent, while our bodies, our souls, are being equipped from the inside to take this journey.

And then one day it happens; the quiet work is done, and the narrative is ready to be born. We have found that we are ready to bring it forth. Ready to go into the dark places. We are ready to begin writing the story.

These stories do not come without risk. Risk to our comfort, risk to our ignorance – even risk to the life of the story itself.

He places it in us; this small spark; He gifts it – and lets us choose.

Will you see this through? Will you carry this burden of love? Will you break yourself in so that life might flow out?

And we can choose to say no. We can choose not to heed. Not to listen. Not to allow this thing to grow or to live. We can blot out the flame, and stop the beating heart.

We can choose ourselves

and lose the miracle.

And it’s scary and hard and, oh, it can hurt – but we are the brave ones, and we know that the hard path is the one to life. The story tellers know that to tell their stories will require giving away a part of themselves that they will never get back. That their words may fall on deaf ears. That they may never see the fruits of their labor.

But we know that He makes all of these things beautiful in their time. So we say yes.

I have said yes.

A little over a year ago the heart of this story began to beat for the first time; it happened when I read about little girls in India who were being thrown away, left on the side of the street, or sold into slavery – if they were given the chance to live at all.

I knew at that moment that I was opening my heart to them, but at the time I didn’t really know what that looked like, or what it meant, or where it would go. But God knew, and I had said yes, and that was all that He required to begin laying the foundation for a new story.

Little by little I felt the cry of these girls weighing on my heart. With every statistic and news article the little spark was fanned and grew.

I wanted to go on a missions trip to India to see them, to love on them, and to help in whatever way I could, but that door just hadn’t opened for me, and I didn’t know what else I could do.

And then I saw this video.

and I wanted to learn more about this group The Exodus Road, and how they really worked.

As luck God would have it, The Exodus Road was at Allume, and I had a chance to be part of their impact opportunity. I had the honor of meeting Laura Parker, co-founder of The Exodus Road, and author of The Exodus Road: One Wife’s Journey Into Sex Trafficking and Rescue. For over an hour I got to hear her story first hand and see her heart. Any questions I had were answered and any reservations I maintained were wiped away.

We saw girls who were 10, 11, and 12, being sold by their parents into slavery. Ten thousand girls lining up to sell their bodies every day, and the thousands of men who so willingly violated them. We saw live footage of raids and rescues – real children being restored, real men and women coming to their rescue to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

It was my moment of choice. I could chose to stay on the sidelines and let the story, my part in it, go unwritten; I could talk about cooking and teaching and reading my bible while turning a blind eye to the orphaned and abandoned and misused.

When we choose to remain at arm’s length, when we choose to remain detached, our well is shallow. We are safe, and sound, and bland.


Or I could wade deep into the mud and do my part to pull these drowning children from the mire and pull my soul out of mediocrity.

Or I could be the salt of the earth.

Or I could tell the story of women like these.

Women who are so desperate to free a young girl from slavery that she runs ahead of everyone – the police, the rescue team, into an unknown situation. Women who wrap their arms around these broken children like like wings of Yahweh.  By telling her story I can choose to run ahead with her.

 We cannot tell the story if we do not first choose to see it.

I was at a threshold. I could choose not to act, but I would never again be able to say that I didn’t know, or that I couldn’t help, or that I didn’t see. 

Ann Voskamp spoke to this, and touched my soul, when she reminded me that we are the Esther generation.
We are the ones inside the palace – but only by Yahweh’s Grace.
“You could have been the one outside of the gate. You could have been the one with the Lord’s Resistance Army slitting your child’s throat in the middle of the night, you could been the one born into a slum, raped without a hope, you could be the one born into AIDS, into starvation, into lives of wild Christ-less desperation. The reason you are inside the gate for such a time as this – is to risk your life for those outside the gate. If I perish, I perish.”

And so we said yes. The moment that we chose to partner with The Exodus Road by sponsoring Search and Rescue Team Bravo, based in India, was the moment that this story was born into reality.

But that was only the first page. This is only the very first step of a journey that has just begun to unfold.

And I don’t know where the path is going to lead, but I am assured of one thing, wherever it is, it’s going to be one heck of a story.

Interested in how you can help? Visit www.theexodusroad.com to find out more!


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Finding Rest

The cherished child of an acquaintance loses their battle with disease. And we can’t stop the tears.

A church elder is arrested for child pornography. And we can’t fight the churning in our stomachs.

A friend is asked to walk a hard road. And we beat our fists because we cannot go with her.

A man on the internet makes a comment, a joke, that he would leave his wife and family for a night with a model. And I am broken by the lack of respect and fidelity that people in this world have for their marriages.

Someone antagonizes “Cue jealous comments from fat housewives.” And I reel back in disgust and indignation.

Because that’s me.

I’m not jealous, but I’m predictably offended on behalf of the wife who has been so unjustly scorned. So publicly belittled. They call me on the affront I feel so acutely, and have attempted not only to invalidate but to shame me – and anyone who dares to feel offended by such brash perversity – by stripping me of all dignity and worth through hate and taunt.

I blink away hot angry tears and fight the temptation to let it hurt me – because I am; I’m tempted to let the idea that someone is mocking me – disregarding who I am as a living, breathing, intelligent person – pierce me with these daggers they stick skin deep.

I’m tempted to lash out and rip my insecurities out of their hands;  demanding that they have no right to enter and violate the personal and vulnerable places of my life.

And it’s silly because they’re just one person, but there are at least 50 other people who agree with the sentiment. And that’s 51 too many for my sensitive skin.

I think of all the things I could say; witty, defensive, vengeful cuts to prove that I am more than what they think I am. That my opinion deserves respect. That I am worth something.

But it would be no use, because these people? They don’t care if they’ve salted the life-long wound of an unknown face  in the world. They don’t care if somewhere there’s a wife fighting lies that she’s not pretty enough, not appealing enough, not good enough, not worth enough
They don’t care. Not really. 

If given the opportunity to look me, or her, in the eye and see the effects of the words they throw around with such carelessness, I suppose that most of them would feel shame and embarrassment for their lack of humanity. But this is the internet; a place free from that sort of responsibility.

So I just sit in the front seat of my car, while behind me my kids are waiting patiently to go to the park, and all I can do is cry.

Cry for my tender heart that bleeds so easily. Cry for a wife whose husband has missed her beauty. Cry for the parents who are mourning their child. Cry for the message that has endured another blow from a fallen leader. Cry for a friend that I am helpless to aid.

Cry for a world that is bending and breaking beneath a curse that is too heavy to bear.

What do we do when the world is too much?

Too heartbreaking, too perverse, too dark, too loud? When we feel like asking if someone could please stop the ride and let us off, because we really would rather not live here anymore – what do we do?

The only thing we can. We just surrender.

Surrender to Yahweh. Retreat beneath the shelter of His wings. Hide away for a time in the secret places of His love and grace.

We let His love wash over our souls and we remember that His approval is all that counts. His love is perfect and good and holy and it delights in us exactly as we are.

He reminds me that my audience is an audience of one, and that He alone deserves my efforts and energy and attention.

We remember that He knows our hurts, and that He knows how dark the world can be, and we let him fill our lamps with oil so that we can be the break in it.

We seek Him in a place where He has called us by name, a place He has carved out for our intimacy, that we could eat the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

A place where he heals our wounds. A place where He Himself has bent low so that He can listen to us as we cry over injustice and loss and the loss of sanctity.

So tonight I shut the door of the world and all the voices in it behind me, and find a balm for my soul in the Healer of our hearts – because tomorrow is another day.

A day of fighting the dark, of encouraging the mourning, of edifying the body, of loving our neighbors.

Of reaching out to dying world, and lighting the way back home.