There Are Times

I took a short break from blogging after experiencing some very difficult times related to my writing, and I’m glad to be back in my writing space. As I searched for the way to be obedient in what happened, I discovered that I don’t believe God has released me from writing here in this space, so I published a couple of essays from my archives while I prayed and thought and wrote. Here is what I wrote in the aftermath of my troubles. I pray that it will give a small bit of help to you.
 To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.


There are times when I feel desperate for God.
Times when my path forward seems dark
as the hour before dawn.
Times when the darkness seems to creep into my soul and
times when it wants to burst out of my heart and
threaten to hurt those around me.
IMG_5370 - Copy (2)
I always know in a cerebral sense that my very being depends on God, but
there are times when I know it in a deep, carnal way.
These are the times I see clearly into my own heart and
tremble with fear for the rage I see there.
These are the times I am asked to forgive, to
turn the other cheek in a real and painful way.
These are the times I find I must return something
to God that is precious to me and find that my deepest self
wants to turn away from Him instead.
It is in these times that I fall on my face and
beg Him to surround me with Himself.
It is in these times that I lift up my eyes and
plead for Him to heal me from the inside.
It is in these times that I know with a gut-wrenching certainty that
I am, indeed, desperate for God
in all times.
I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee.
Oh, bless me now my Savior,
I come to Thee.

Making Progress

I just get so frustrated.
We often speak of deeper things via email so that we can linger long over ideas, drawing them more fully into ourselves before we respond.
I feel that after so many years of following Jesus that I should have made more progress, that I should be more like Him, think more like Him, speak more like Him. Yet I still struggle every moment to obey, to control my temper, to love others.
Me too, Dad. Me too.
My heart feels heavy when I look at any given week and how much I have failed my husband, my daughters, my God.
I want so desperately to be like Jesus, to have love be my first response in any situation, to be grateful for everything that comes my way.
Yet day after day I lose my temper, I choose my own desires over the needs of those around me,
I forget to walk with God.
Have I made any progress at all? It certainly doesn’t feel like it.
Yet God tells us that creating a new heart is not up to us. We are not capable of changing our heart of stone for a heart of flesh, but God promises that He will do this for us, that He will change us to look more like Jesus, to be who He created us to be.
Will I believe Him?
Will I trust what He says more than what my physical eyes can see? Will I trust the Word even when contrary evidence seems to mount up higher?
…. it is certain that the Christian does grow in grace. And though his conflict may be as severe in the last day of his life as in the first moment of conversion, yet he does advance in grace — and all his imperfections and his conflicts within cannot prove that he has not made progress. ~ Charles Spurgeon
As in so much of this walk with God, will I choose to trust His promises or my own imperfect judgement?
Heart of stone
May we all push aside the guilt that we pour down on our own heads and say with the 17th century monk, Brother Lawrence,
When he had failed in his duty, he only confessed his fault saying to God, “I shall never do otherwise, if you leave me to myself. It is You who must hinder my failing and mend what is amiss.” Then, after this, he gave himself no further uneasiness about it. ~ Practicing the Presence of God
May we all trust God that much and give ourselves no further uneasiness about it.

The Sacredness of Bad Attitudes

I sit at Panera, laptop open in front of me, staring out the window at snow drifting down.
Drifting white
I come from a morning full of harsh words and impatience, full of angry attitudes and frustrated responses.
Angry child
I watch the fat flakes piling up and am struck by the beauty of the view, struck by the sacredness of a dirty world turning white.
Dirty turning clean
I sift through my memories of this morning and wonder why I am unable to also see those parts of life as sacred.
It is easy to see the sacredness of snow. It is difficult to see the sacredness in a child’s anger.
Fussy child
When life is beautiful, when I gaze at spring flowers or at a little girl reading to her sister, I have no trouble in seeing God.
Acting in love
It is when my children fuss and yell, when they shove each other and bang angry fists on the piano and Mommy hollers back in return, that God seems to vanish.
Acting in anger
Yet if I truly believe that there is no separation between sacred and secular, if I believe that the fullness of life is sacred, if I believe that there is no difference between kneeling before God in prayer and kneeling in service before a dirty toilet…
Then there is sacredness even in my child who is storming away from me in anger and frustration.
There is sacredness in a fussy toddler, in a stubborn preschooler, in a huffy elementary school child.
It is easier to react with impatience than to see God in these things. It is easier to speak harsh words in response than to pause long enough to search for the sacredness and speak words of Love in answer.
Reacting with love
I am trying to figure out how to hold on to the truth that there is no distinction between the sacred and the secular, between the body and the soul. I am trying to figure out how to hold on to the truth that God made this world and made this life and uses every piece of both to bring me to Him.
I am trying to figure out how to “become more fully human, trusting that there is no way to God apart from real life in the real world.”
(Barbara Brown Taylor in An Altar in the World)
It is this, this living of real life in the real world while focusing myself on God, that will change me, change my life, change the way I live my life.
Which, in turn, will bring me closer to God.
And that is indeed truly sacred.

Turning My Temper into Beauty

I am feeling discouraged today.
It is easy for me to heap guilt and shame onto my own head.
I have tried and tried and tried yet again to keep my temper. Sometimes I succeed for the first ten transgressions, at other times it only takes one, yet at some point I always fail.
I yell, I spit ugly words through clenched teeth, I point an unyielding finger as I hiss.
Yelled at by Mommy
Why is this so difficult? I would gladly lay down my life for these babes of mine, yet I seem unable to lay down my pride and my temper for even one day.
Is this familiar to any of you? Do any of you struggle with the same things over and over again?  Join me over at Embracing Grace so that we can each share what God is teaching us.
(Go to if the links above are not working)

Losing My Temper Again

Her eyes begin to flood, her hands creep up to cover her open mouth, and her body caves in on itself, trying to hide from the world around her.

My eyes narrow, my hands clench into tight balls of anger, and my body tenses up as if ready for battle.

By this sixth meltdown of the day, occurring because we took a different route home from the game, my heart is weary and my patience is gone.

My voice is low but harsh as I demand that she stop fussing and quit crying, and I spit at her to just be quiet if she can’t be happy.

Hurt radiates from her eyes as her sobs get even louder. Guilt pierces my heart as I once again realize that I lost my temper because I didn’t want to deal with her. Hard truth: She was inconvenient to me.
I remember that she hasn’t had much sleep because her sister just moved into her bed to make room for Baby. I remember that she is struggling with a new sport and feels afraid of too many kids all crowded around the same object. I remember that she is only four and that if I sometimes have irrational meltdowns, perhaps she is allowed a few as well.

This feels like my moment-by-moment cycle: I forget, I am harsh to those I love, I remember, I am guilty. 

I now speak harshly to myself, trying to will myself into perfection, into loving without fail. This always fails. I am not perfect and my will is not strong enough.


I am loved by One Who is pouring more than I could even imagine into the lives of my husband and children.

I and my family are loved by One Who loves us enough to call us His children

We are loved by One Who, before the world was even made, loved each one of us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault. 

I am loved by One Who can make up for all of my mistakes, Who tells me that His power is made perfect in my weakness, Who reassures me that His grace is sufficient. (II Cor 12.9)

My strength is not sufficient to calm my temper.

My will is not sufficient for me to love my loved ones perfectly.

My fierce desire is not sufficient to force my little ones’ hearts into a state of loving God and each other.

His grace. This is sufficient. 

I am struck with relief and gratitude, and so I sing. 

He is good when there is nothing good in me. 

He is love, when I am not, on display for all to see. 

He is my hope because He has covered all my sin. 

He is true even in my wandering.

I run to His arms and allow His power to be made perfect in my weakness. I trust all of our hearts to His love.

(song adapted from Forever Reign by Hillsong)

I Am Angry

I am really angry.

On Sunday, I began thinking about every wrong and ugly thing that has touched my life recently.

My brother and his little boy, missing their wife and mommy for more than a year now.

My Papa, getting weaker and weaker, and my Gram, facing life without her husband of 63 years.

My sweet friend, who has struggled for years with disease and multiple transplants and who now has to stay at a rehab center in a town not her own, away from all she knows well.

A dear family from church, whose seven year old son was hit by a car and who is struggling to figure out their new normal as well as how to care for their other children (including a newly adopted daughter) while also caring for their son in long-term care in a far-away city.

I know that each one of you has your own list.

Are you angry yet? This world is broken and we have an enemy that takes full advantage of our brokenness. He is prowling and trying to devour all of us. He is hurting people who are dear to me, and that makes me angry.

It also makes me grateful. 

I am grateful for a God Who has already fought this enemy, has died in the battle, and has won the war through His resurrection. 

I am grateful for a God Who cares so much about bringing people to Himself, that He was willing to die. 

I am grateful for a God Who loves us so much that even though we were the ones who brought death into the world, He works crazy hard to help people stop running away from Him. 

Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But that is not what God desires; rather, He devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from Him. ~ II Samuel 14.14

I am grateful for a God Who cares more about molding people into the image of His Son than about protecting them from danger or pain, and so is willing to allow our enemy to continue prowling. 

I am grateful that our enemy’s time is limited.

I am angry. And I will allow my anger to drive me. I will allow my anger to motivate me to work, to show God’s love to the hurting around me, to do my part in bringing God’s kingdom to earth here and now. As my dear friend said, “Give fully, believing He will fill the space.”


Because I am grateful.

Are you angry too? As I tell my four year old (and myself, too!) when rage threatens to erupt, getting angry is not wrong. It is what you do with that anger that is right or wrong. Instead of allowing that anger to harden your heart, allow it to soften your heart towards God and send you clinging to His peace. Let it send you off to battle for those that He loves. 

God has already done all the work through Jesus’s death and resurrection. Now God allows me to join in the defeat of our enemy through the all-powerful love of God that moves through me.

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. ~ I Corinthians 15.54-58


Our family has been struck again, less than a year after our Kristina died, and I am reminded of how much I hate cancer, of how much I hate death

To an outsider, it may not seem quite as much the tragedy as before. This is my Papa, after all, my eighty-six year old grandpa. He is not fighting for the chance to raise his children or wishing for a chance to grow old with his spouse after only a few years of marriage. He has lived a good and full life. 

And yet it is a tragedy. Death itself is a tragedy, and while I am tempted to rail at God against the ugliness of it all, deep inside my heart I know that it is our sin, our rebellion that let death into our world in the first place and it is God’s mercy that gave us life again.

Cancer and death are tragedy, they are ugly. For our family, this cancer is as ugly as any other. Yes, there is difference between a twenty-six year old and an eighty-six year old. And yet, I am greedy. 

I am greedy for more time. I want to yell at God, “NO! It is not enough! Thirty-four years with my Papa is not enough. I want more time! I want him to meet this baby growing inside of me. I want all of my children to know and remember him. You did not give me enough time!” 

All this while stomping my foot like the child that I am.

Yet my heart has been changed through Kristina’s struggle and death. I have learned a little more about Who God is and who I am in relation to Him. I have learned about obedience in the midst of the ugly

And I have learned that I have a choice in all of this. I can choose to blame God, letting my anger and grief drive me away from Him, or I can choose to be obedient and thank Him, clinging to Him and letting Him be all that I need.

So at least for today (I know I still have disobedience, some yelling and foot-stomping inside of me for another day), I will choose this:

Thank You, Abba, for the gift of my Papa and my Gram. 

Thank You for giving me so many years with them, years of such close relationship and of so many beautiful times with them.

Thank You for giving them so many talents and abilities and for giving them the desire to teach and share those skills with me.

Thank You for their wisdom, for all that I have learned from them, for all of the wisdom that I now have stored in my own heart.

Thank You most of all for making their hearts like Yours. Thank You for allowing me to see You in them, to see in their lives how You want me to live. Thank You for showing me through them how to live faithfully as a child of Yours, as a spouse and as a parent.

Thank You for the beauty that is their lives. 

Thank You, Abba, for Your grace.

What will you do when God says "no"?

What do you do when you don’t get your way?

My eldest screams with a red hot rage and sobs tears of hurt and disappointment.

As much as I would like to hold my head up high and speak with condescension about the ways of a child, I can’t. Instead, I will bow my head with shame and confess that, even if I don’t do it out loud or in front of people, I have much the same reaction in my deepest places.

I received another “no” from God this week.

It really hurt. Yet another of my well-laid plans was swept away with the dust of a hope.

I do gain deep peace and joy from knowing beyond a doubt that the only reason that God said “no” was because that wasn’t what was best.

And, just as I wrote recently, my heart still grieves.

There is a piece of me, that child that can’t seem to grow up, that wants to shout and rage and stamp its foot and demand a “yes” from God.

The desire, the temptation, is not wrong. As I often tell my eldest, the feeling is not wrong, but what you choose to do can be either wise or foolish.

So what did I choose to do?

This time (I wish that I could say “every time”) I chose what was wise.

With tears, I praised God.

I thanked Him for telling me “no” because I trust that it was best, that it was done out of love.

Then I went to church and worshiped.

You make all things work together for my good.
You stay the same through the ages,
Your love never changes.
There may be pain in the night, but joy comes in the morning.
And when the oceans rage,
I don’t have to be afraid
Because I know that You love me.
Your love never fails.

My whole life I place in Your hands.
God of mercy, humbled I bow down
In Your presence at Your throne.
I called, You answered
And You came to my rescue
And I want to be where You are.

You stood before my failure,
Carried the cross for my shame.
My sin weighed upon Your shoulders,
My soul now to stand.
So I’ll stand,
With arms high and heart abandoned,
In awe of the One who gave it all.

I turned my eyes back to Jesus and gained back my perspective. No matter to what God says “no”, it is so small compared to the huge thing to which He has already said “yes”: allowing us to become His children through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. He has given us everything, and so…

I’ll stand
My soul, Lord, to You surrendered.
All I am is Yours.

art credit: 
songs are from Your Love Never Fails (Jesus Culture); Came To My Rescue (Hillsong United); The Stand (Hillsong United) 
sketching is The Three Crosses by Rembrandt

What’s Your Story?

What’s your story?

Who has hurt you in your past? Thrown arrows of words that are still lodged in your heart?

What’s your story?

Did your father say one thing in anger that haunts you even now? Did your mother speak from desire to help but with the result of a lasting wound?

What’s your story?

Did a friend decide to end a friendship or just drift away without a word?

What’s your story?

Did a teacher, mentor, boss say you weren’t worth their time? Did date after date decide you weren’t worth a second look?

What’s your story?

What hurts suddenly burn your heart when you thought you had forgiven? What wounds cause you to speak that way to your own child, spouse, friend?

What’s your story?

What arrow can you not get rid of on your own? Pride, gossip, anger, scorn? Sarcasm, predjudice, envy, control?

What’s your story?

Which wounds have drawn you into God’s arms? Which arrows have pushed you closer to His heart?

What’s your story?

What story has God begun to write on your heart? What truth is He using to heal and cleanse?

What’s your story?

Was there a sunset streaked with gold that burst through the pain and pointed your heart toward a God of beauty?

What’s your story?

Was there a tiny flowering bud that whispered that there is One who cares?

What’s your story?

Was there a fairy tale read as a child that spoke of a truth that there is more to this world than what you see?

What’s your story?

Did you have a friend who gave good gifts just like the Giver loves to give?

What’s your story?

Did a brother, sister, mother, father show the love from God that asks for nothing in return?

What’s your story?

What story is God writing on your heart?

My Default

“Stop!” I yell. “Just stop it!”

My eldest runs sobbing down the hallway to her room, fleeing the unholy wrath of her mommy.

I watch her go. My head slumps and my heart breaks. I did it again.

Hurled anger at one of those I love most rather than gently bearing love.

Why do I do this? Why do I consistently make wrong choices? Why is it so hard to choose the right way?

How can I read God’s words of love to me, His child, and then turn around and choose to offer anger to my own children?

And it is a choice. Ann Voskamp, in One Thousand Gifts, says:

Do I really smother my own joy because I believe that anger achieves more than love? That Satan’s way is more powerful, more practical, more fulfilling in my daily life than Jesus’ way? Why else get angry? Isn’t it because I think complaining, exasperation, resentment will pound me up into the full life I really want?

I’m a curious learner and I want to know why.

Why does my nature seem stuck in a default of sin? Why am I so easily led into believing that Satan’s way is more fulfilling than Jesus’ way?

Why is it easier to believe Satan than God?

I ask our pastor and he points me to Romans 5:

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned…

So because of Adam, I really do start life with a disadvantage, with a default of disobedience? How is this fair?

Again, Pastor, in his letter, offers a way to understand:

God chose Adam as our representative, just as we choose our representatives in government. Just as we are bound by what our congressmen sign in our names, so we are bound by what Adam did for all of humanity.

I stop reading. I am still not liking this. Did God choose poorly? I didn’t get to vote on who represented me in this matter of sin and death!

Reluctantly, I keep reading and Pastor points me to the rest of Romans 5:

…if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! … how much more will those who receive…the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ … so also through the obedience of the one man, the many will be made righteous.

how much more

through Jesus Christ

Yes, God chose Adam as our representative. For all I would like to blame him, I know that no other human would have done any better.
And God chose Jesus as our representative! We are not simply restored to our own faulty, pitiful righteousness, we are raised up to Christ’s righteousness!

What a gift. What grace.

When we say “yes” to Jesus, our old nature is gone and we are a new creation (2 Cor 5).

Why do I still find it difficult to obey? Why do I still choose anger rather than love?

Because I forget. I do not steep myself in Jesus. I do not surround myself with His words. I do not ask Him to change my heart.

I will continue to ask. I will find more ways to hide His words in my heart and let Him change me.

When I forget, I will ask again for grace.

I walk to her room and hold her close. I wipe away her tears and ask her to forgive me.

She nestles in close to my heart and I breathe thanks for this grace, this gift of a child who is able to offer God’s grace to a weak Mommy.

A mommy who chooses, at this moment, to offer words of love.

Source/credit for paintings: Creation of Adam by Michelangelo; Christ of Santa Maria sopra Minerva by Michelangelo