Sunday, November 8, 2015


I remember when Jesus first set me free and I remember when I first loved Matt. They were around the same time.
It was all so schmoopy, so mushy, so cluelessly dumb. It was so idealistic, so full of “I Will Nevers” and “We Will Always.”  So easy and blindly optimistic.
Fast forward fifteen years. I now have a love that has been tested by fire; love that has withstood swelling waters. It was not easy. I have done most of the “I Will Nevers” and dropped almost all of the “We Will Always.”
Our love has been shaken and torn down and rebuilt at least a dozen times.  And just when I am sure we have our footing, the bottom drops out again. Just when I am sure of what it is, something comes along and proves me wrong; more breaking, more burning, more tearing down. It hurts like hell and it is terrifying.
But every time it happens, when the smoke clears and the waters recede, I look up and see Him more clearly. I love Him more honestly, I know Him more intimately, and I trust Him more completely; I am more sure of Him. When the scar tissue begins to form, I understand more than ever before that He is It. He is my one true thing. That life is horrible, hard, heavy, and heartbreaking but without Him, it’s nothing at all.
Where is God on your very worst day? Where is God when the bottom drops out? Where is God when the absolute worst outcome becomes reality? When all your hopes are dashed? When the healing doesn’t happen?
When we hope in anything but Him, we will be crushed. When we hope in the healing and not The Healer, we have put something besides God on the throne. When we rest our faith on a move of God above God himself, we have worshipped an idol. When we buy into the lie that a life of faith will buy us material blessing and protection from pain, we are believing heresy.
The Good news is this: He loves us. He never leaves us; when everything in our world burns, including us. Everything we thought to be true about ourselves, the world, and Him, shatters. When all that falls away, we are left with Him. Eternally Him. Unshaken, unchanged, unbroken. Eleven months ago in my Darkest Hour, He spoke to me. He did not leave me. And He did not leave Paul.
I have wrestled, fought, questioned, pushed back, accused, flailed, spiraled. I have doubted His existence, questioned His goodness, I have lobbed flaming accusations.
I am still out here in the wilderness. Yet I am not alone; I know He is with me, eternally.
2 Corinthians 4:7-18
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

On being "back"

Lately I have a little bit more bandwidth. Lately I have started being able to do some of the things I used to do. And lately, people have been saying to me: “You’re back.”
Please don’t be mistaken, friends. I am in no way “back.” You see, there is no coming back from where I have been. To say that I am “back” is to imply that somehow I have returned to the girl I was before eleven o’clock in the morning on December 11th, 2014.
Before I got that horrible phone call. Before my world was shaken and my heart was shattered.
That girl is gone. She will never return.
 I think you could more easily resuscitate my brother than the girl that I was on December 10th.  People have said often that they “miss the old me.” I can tell you this: Not as much as I do. I would give anything to undo the damage that has been done.
Mostly because undoing that damage would mean that my brother would still be here laughing and scheming and breathing. But he is not. And because of that, I carry a weight and a scar that will go with me until Jesus calls me home.
Do not misunderstand me. I am not without hope and peace and joy. I have those things. But I also have anguish and pain that sometimes levels me. Sometimes I look at a picture of him and the realization that he is really gone and he is gone forever, it punches me straight in the gut. Most days I feel completely irreparable.
I am moving forward. But I will never move on. His death will now always be a part of me, just like Paul himself will always be a part of me.


This week is Suicide Awareness Week. Light a candle. Buy a shirt from Sevenly (their campaign this week benefits National Suicide Prevention Lifeline). Pray for my family. Remember Paul..
The man, the myth, my brother.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Back in the Saddle

This past Saturday we went to the first training that we need to become an active foster home again. It's been over two years since we have done foster care. A lot has happened in two years. We have fought an appeal, adopted, and moved in a young mom and her son. We have been busy, but not with foster care.

On the way driving out to the training I had a pretty epic meltdown. I said it was about hamburgers and running late but I know myself well enough to know that my freakouts are never about what I say they are about.

While we were driving and I was crying, Matt offered to turn around. "We don't have to do this!" he said, "We can go back!" I considered it for a second. We don't have to do this. My life is full enough. Complicated enough. Then, I remembered the thing that I always remember.

I remembered the kid. The kid I haven't met. The kid I know nothing about. The kid that's already out there, most likely experiencing a version of hell that you and I have not had to survive. That thought made my heart shrink down to the size of a raisin. That thought makes me want to simultaneously lie down curled, and run through walls.

As we come up on our sixth year doing foster care, knowing what we know, seeing what we've seen, the question has gone from: "How can we do this?" to: "How can we not do this?"

My husband lied. The first part was right, we don't have to do this. But his second statement was a lie...
We can never go back.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The truth about Emman

He skidded into our lives on the tail end of the hardest placement in our foster care career. I often liken the time with that placement to wearing shoes that were too small...for nine months.When Emmanuel came, we were emotionally drained from caring for these extremely needy kids whose personalities just never really meshed with ours.
Emman came with some diagnoses on paper that, once we got him in our home, we realized we were dealing with someone very different than who we had met on paper.  We went from having a kid with cerebral palsy on paper to a kid with a very real sensory disorder and attachment disorder.The implications of these new diagnoses were much more abstract and much less concrete than what we expected.
Then, right before we were supposed to consummate the adoption, we got news that his bio dad was going to fight. That fight lasted seventeen grueling months. Sometimes, when Emman has the hiccups he says: "I am hiccup," I smile and agree. He is hiccup.
Nothing with Emman has gone as planned or as expected. He has been hard won. From his legal standing, to his services, to his affection, to his diagnoses. Fight of my life. That phrase echoed in my head when the appeal began. The appeal was the fight of my life in a lot of ways. It felt heavy and awful. It was an invisible cloud of uncertainty. An unbecoming filter that colored everything I did and everywhere I went. The chance of losing him was crouching in the corner of every room I walked into for seventeen months.
I wanted to hold back from this kid who desperately needed me to give unreservedly. I wanted to protect myself from the pain of losing my son. I had to fight to keep hope, and faith that all would work together for my good. Or that, if it didn't, would God still be good? Could I still proclaim that? I look back on the seventeen months and all I know is it felt like what war must feel like. That it felt like something was pinning me down. That hope was always one inch beyond my fingertips.
I look back through my journal and it's pages and pages of scratching out verses about the character of God, of the promises of God, and begging them to be true. Begging Him not to change my life, but my heart.  It took up most of my emotional energy most days. All the while trying to fight for his affection. And trying to fight for control of this little tornado.
He bucks everything from my boundaries to my affection. We were at Hope Connection Camp last month and the family counselor and I were talking about my competitiveness (shocking, right?) and he said: "When it comes to kids in your peer group, like the children of your friends, who is winning?" I didn't hesitate. "Me." I have held back from writing about Emman because I don't want to be misunderstood. Or because I felt like having a different relationship with him than Isaiah is wrong. Bonding with a two year old when you have just twinned your two year old is...the truth about Emman is that he is HARD. He is stubborn and contrary. He is volatile and unpredictable. He is complicated. He pushes you away while clawing to keep you close.
I am constantly assessing whether what we are facing is developmental, sensory, or just cheekiness. He bucks and fights me every step. He is exhausting. Someone asked me the other day if I mainlined cocaine to keep up with him. I don't. He is a constant vibration of whirling energy.
The truth about Emman is that I lose sleep over him. I worry about him making friends. I worry about him in school. I worry about if he will ever attach to us in the way I want him to. I worry if he will be misunderstood. But the truth about him is that he is hilarious and quirky. He is brilliant. He is affectionate and friendly. The truth about Emman is that all of the fighting, the hiccups, the complications, the missteps, mishaps, and set backs have only added richness to my life. The truth about Emman is that I have gotten so many things wrong in the last two years and many days have felt like losses.
The truth about Emman is that he is my beloved son and that is a win. Its THE win.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Buying the Field

"The Kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field."
Matthew 13:44

This verse has been rattling around in my brain the last few weeks as I reflected on the last year for our family and looked ahead to the next year. As I have prayed and asked the Lord for vision, this is what keeps popping up. 

So I think maybe this year is about buying the field. 

I have been thinking a lot about the cost of following Jesus on my life, my kids, my family. I have been counting the cost of the Kingdom. I think this year, more than any other year, the cost has become very real to me. We have had to truly consider and sacrifice things we thought were important, the things we thought we needed and the things we thought we valued. We have had to lay down our lives and follow this call. It has been painful and uncomfortable and stretching. This year more than any other year I think Jesus has become very real to me.

Before I didn't really believe that the Kingdom could come in my minivan, at my dining room table, in my time, in my finances, in my life. But that's because I never made space for it to come. I never let God have it to do what He pleased with it. But once I started, I couldn't stop. I handed Him a piece and He transformed it from mundane, plain, and ugly to a thing of beauty. I handed Him another piece and He cleaned it up and multiplied it. I handed Him my Saturday and He filled it with picnics and baby showers with these precious mamas and their babies. I handed Him my minivan and my gas budget (for real) and He filled it to bursting with life and friendship and laughter and the CUTEST babies ever. I handed Him my plans and my spare room and He grew people into my family in a way I could never imagine, but now I couldn't imagine my family without them. I handed Him my heart and He transformed it so I could love Him better and filled it with a deeper love for his people. 

At the end of my life, I probably won't have aged beautifully, I probably won't get to retire early, or travel the world. My kids will probably not have new clothes or the finest education. But maybe I will have the field. See, the cost of the Kingdom is that my kids spend a lot of time in their car seats while I shuttle people around to appointments and school. They share me and they share their stuff. That I don't get a lot of ME time. That my husband and I don't hardly have date nights. Our house is always messy. There is always too much month left over at the end of the paycheck. 

But we have the field. And we are selling everything else.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


The good news of the Gospel is that God came down and made my problems His. How do I reconcile walking out the Gospel if I don't make the problems of others mine? 

We belong to each other. We all belong to Him. It is what the Kingdom of God was designed for. Bearing one another's burdens. People tell me ALL. THE. TIME: "You cannot save them all!" Damn right. Actually, not a single one; but that's not what I was designed for anyways. What I can do is lighten the load. I can come along side. I can feed, clothe, and shelter. I can defend and educate. If I am not using that with which I am blessed to bless others and if I do not use my position to lift others, then what is it for? 

A life spent on yourself is a wasted life. 

This week I was trying to help a young pregnant woman find housing. I called one of the local mega churches and received an 82 page document referring other local resources that could help. That was all they could offer. They have a huge campus with a coffee shop, and tons of other amenities.

We have the opportunity to be the hands and feet and we blow it all the time. We have the opportunity to make the Gospel real and we cannot be bothered. 

We long for revival and the words of Isaiah still ring true...

 If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
    Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

I used to think that feeding the homeless or clothing the naked or visiting the sick made me a "good Christian" - whatever that is - but really, that just made me a decent human. Christ calls us to something bigger and more final. Death. When we settle for this lukewarm brand of Christianity, this self-insulated life, we are doing something worse than selling ourselves short. We are selling The Gospel short.

The good news is that when you die to yourself, your plans and your comforts, you truly do find life. I can say with every one of my deaths I have found so much more life, so full it is bursting at the seams. Dizzy and pulsing. More gut-wrenching and more spirit-filling. Life harder than I could have imagined yet better than I would have ever expected, because it is so out of left field and miraculous I would have NEVER dreamed it.  

He is using me. I see it all around me now. Not because I am good, but because He is Good. He is weaving my story, my insignificant thread, into the stories and lives of others in this incredible master tapestry of redemption. He is bringing revival in my dead heart.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

On Missing Out and Miracles

Today, I was in the room where a baby was born.
I was honored to witness a mama push her baby out into the world. A miracle, no doubt.
I have never wanted biological children. And I don't know all the reasons. I can't name them. Birthing just doesn't appeal to me. Not the way that adoption and foster care do. Sometimes, I wonder if there's something wrong with me. People say things to me like: "But it's what you were created to do." Or they say: "Don't you want to experience the miracle of creating a life?" And then: "Aren't you worried you're missing out?"
So when my path crossed with that of the young pregnant girl six months ago, I would never have thought I would be standing in the room while she labored and pushed for her baby. Honestly, during the last three months of going to classes and sonograms and preparing for today, I wondered in the back of my mind if all this would start a certain itch or scratch or I'd hear something biological tick or whatever.
Welp, it didn't. But I did come out of that room certain about some things. Maybe I was created to do this. Exactly what I'm doing. I shudder at the thought of missing out on this right here. On what we get to be a part of creating.
And maybe that young mama, just maybe, she is my miracle.