It’s Not All for Nothing

I was folding the laundry. It’s one of my favorite chores, unlike most people. I love how boring yet consistent it is: every week I will wash and fold the same clothes, and every week they will get dirty. If I can trust anything to be true it is this–my children will wear the same clothes, and I will have to wash them.

But as I was folding, I felt gratitude wash over me in a new way. Do you know what I mean? It was like seeing something beautiful for the first time. One of my favorite recent memories is when my husband and I took the train to the Grand Canyon. The anticipation of arriving and walking toward the outlook was palpable, and when we saw it, it felt like the breath in my lungs was renewed. Like before that moment, my eyes hadn’t quite seen real beauty before. Or the moment when I held my babies for the first time, and I looked at their sweet, tiny faces. It is like the world I knew split in two and a new horizon was created.

This time, however, it was laundry. I was sorting and folding and mindlessly doing, and it occurred to me that the air around me feels new. The days are changing. My mind is transformed into something else, and I am experiencing something new.

A little over a year ago, I walked into the dentist’s office with two of my boys and had a panic attack. Leading up to that moment, I was wracked with fear. I was absolutely certain that I was a fraud, that everything I wanted was impossible, and that I was destined to fail the life that God had given me. Maybe you know the same feeling of lying thoughts assaulting you in new ways. It was terrible. I was less than five miles from our home, and I couldn’t drive back. I couldn’t muster the courage or belief that I could be a good mom at that moment. So we parked in a parking lot while my husband came and picked us up, and I fell to pieces.

For most of this year, recalling that day has felt impossibly difficult. I don’t like the details of it. Admitting it happened felt like a failure in itself, but I began to learn that unspoken darkness has a firm grip and will not let go until you shine a light on it. Letting people in helped heal me. Our collective light exposed this dark thing that wasn’t so dark–it was just a painful version of myself that needed to be loved. She didn’t know how to love herself, so she panicked. Now I’m learning that she needed to know she was worthy of being here in the first place, surrounded by light and warmth. It’s work to stay in the light. It’s comfortable in the dark where no one sees any pain. But I am learning, daily, that discomfort is where life gets better.

Sorting through the clothes, folding them one by one, noticing the consistency of this one task that I do every week with surprising joy. Every day is a miracle, and I am realizing that believing in that miracle is one of the greatest gifts. Can I tell you the truth? I used to think needing a miracle meant you were weak, and weakness was not for women like me. Now? I am only better because I let myself be weak. I gave in to the miracle, and I found myself whole because a good God loves me. I am who I am because of Him. All of me, even the me that fell to pieces, is made whole and complete and loved because He miraculously brought me out of miry clay. Maybe you know what I mean.

The simplest things are the most joyful things because I am just not who I was. I am not how I was. And as I was doing my boring household chores, the weight of God’s grace felt heavy on me, like the pressure of being hugged deeply and knowingly. He knows all of me, and His love for me would fill every crack of the Grand Canyon to the top of those mountains, and it would still overflow. I am here and whole, and it is worth marking that, while I was folding laundry, I felt at peace.

I am currently counting down the days until I finish my Bachelor’s degree. I am counting the fruit of reading Scripture every day for the last year. I am seeing the transformation in my mind from terrified to cherished. I am witnessing God do absolute miracles for a weak girl like me and turn it all into strength. It’s not every day that while I’m folding laundry I drop the basket and run to my computer to testify to what God has done through a blog I’ve been writing on for six-ish years. But today? Today is that day.

Miracles on miracles. From grace to grace.

I’ll testify until the end of my life what God did in one year and believe that He is just getting started. What might seem like the end is just a beginning, believe me. What feels like terror and pain can become rescued and redeemed into a miraculous testament of God’s grace. I would know. I’m a walking miracle.

From weakness to strength, I find that the hardest moments are what we need to become who we are supposed to be. May you be made whole by what breaks you in half. May you find that what caused you to fall becomes the catalyst for everything you were destined for. It’s not all for nothing. It’s all for something. And for me, that means everything.

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

I know it doesn’t make much sense.

Someone reflected back to me last week that it is true–I have been holding onto the hem of Jesus’ cloak, following Him amicably, grumpily, begrudgingly for 18 years. The number doesn’t make sense. Over half of my life has been spent following a God I cannot see, believing in a Savior whose story is acknowledged by most people, believer or not. Eighteen years of life. It’s come to the point where the line between before and after has blurred, and I just don’t know that I really remember who I was without Him.

I know. It doesn’t make much sense.

It’s been eleven months since I’ve written a blog post, even more since I truly considered myself a “blogger”. The Internet and social media just keeps changing, and now I’m 75 minutes deep in Reels before I realize what has happened. It’s all a distraction, you know? It sucks me in like a good book but without any meat, without any nourishment for my soul. Instead I’m left wondering, “Why doesn’t my life look like that?”, and thus begins a down spiral of doubt. It shouldn’t leave you wondering why I don’t blog anymore, why I don’t share every photo I take of my kids, why I post less and less frequently. I would rather be sucked into the eyes of my four-, six-, eight-, or nine-year-old. I would rather laugh uncontrollably with my husband, who, daily, is the greatest joy of my life. There is too much rich joy to be had in life playing out before my eyes for me to share every second with you, whoever you are.

In these eleven months, I’ve been shattered and rebuilt. I still don’t want to talk about it, let alone write about it. It is true what the Word says about God pruning us, ridding us of that which does not produce fruit. It’s true. The removal and regrowth is just as painful as it sounds, and it changed everything for me. Everything. I found Jesus again and again, and finally, I let Him have me. To be restored from the pit, to be lifted from the miry clay, to be transformed more and more into His image is a painful gift that I didn’t want yet desperately needed.

Eighteen years is what it took.

Eighteen years, and I finally agreed that I couldn’t do it on my own. I couldn’t follow a God I couldn’t see in my own power. I couldn’t believe in Jesus without welcoming Him and all His people into my life. I couldn’t muster the strength to continue anymore without falling completely and totally at His mercy. So I did. Crumpled in a heap, a mess of pain, waiting to be gathered into His arms. So I was. It took a long time to find my way back to my feet again.

It doesn’t make much sense how God works. I write blog posts like these ones, interlaced with Scripture if you can catch it, and find ways to tell my story that are weaved with His heart in mine. It isn’t all beautiful and melodic like I can write it out to be. It is often filled with journals upon journals of anguish and lament, wondering why God would allow pain in my heart, why my brain cannot quite catch up with the truth. I crawled to Him daily before I could walk in any type of strength. Let me tell you–He will have you anyway you can get to Him. Whether you are cut off at the knees, crippled, unable to move. He will take you. He will gather you up. He will reach out to you if you can’t reach out to Him. He is kind like that. I know because He did it for me.

I asked God today to remind me. To tell me again how good He has been. Do you know how often I forget? Eighteen years have passed, and still I linger in my questioning instead of resting in His promise. I asked Him to show me again. To remind me of just yesterday when I was singing a song, and I saw Him hugging me like a daddy hugs his kid. To keep reminding me. How faithful You have always been! Even when I am not. Even when I am barely making it to You.

It doesn’t make sense, and I think that is a great gift.

The faithfulness of God does not need to make sense for it to be true. If it did, our faith would rely on what we can see, and that isn’t faith at all.

Eleven months. Eighteen years. Time passes, and He is faithful still. Thank You, Jesus.

10 Day Reflection: Better Than It Seems

Tiny footsteps thumped through the house the other morning when the first snowfall of the year arrived. “MOM! It’s SNOWING!” she yelled from the kitchen. Mind you, I was still in bed. But I couldn’t help but jump out to join her, standing at the back door watching the blanket fall to the ground.

I forgot how magical it is to have a three-year-old at Christmas. When my last boy was three, we were in the thick of a lot of things with toddlers and having three young boys so close in age. I don’t remember much from that time because I was really just trying to survive. Our girl is bringing it back to me: the magic and wonder of the changing seasons and the beauty of a time like this one.

So this morning, when the snow was falling, I peaked out my door to ask Rosie if she saw the snow. I think I might have been more excited than she was, only because I love to see the joy on her face. She loves every bit of this time, squeezing as much joy out of every moment until it’s dry. It’s how she goes about life: fully and completely experiencing what she loves with unhindered joy. Such freedom.

Oh to be a child again, right?

Mine have been teaching me that everything is better than it seems. Really.

They just aren’t worried at all, you know? I get worried so easily. I’ll toss and turn in bed at night while my mind spins thinking about all the things. Often it will spin until I write down everything I’m thinking. The things I worry about never come to pass most of the time. The result is less joy, less freedom. Being an adult seemed better when I was 14 and dreaming about the future.

Today I am grateful for time and the ridiculous amounts of it I have been able to spend with my kids this year. More than ever and more than planned. Some days I don’t feel that way. Some days they drive me mad, either angry or crazy. Just thankful and wouldn’t have it any other way.

The snow is falling today, and I am just so happy to see it.

10 Day Reflection: A Sorrowful View

My oldest loves the game Guess Who. Let’s be real: I love Guess Who. I used to go to a neighbor’s house as a kid, go down to her basement, and specifically request to play Guess Who. Back when commercials were still part of our daily TV viewing, I remember seeing the commercial for the game, thinking it looked out-of-this-world amazing.

Yet, whenever my oldest asks me to play Guess Who, it feels like it is always the worst time. The most inconvenient time. Or I’m exhausted and can’t imagine trying to play a game after a long day. He asks in expectation. More often than I want to admit, I say no. A game we both love.

The thing about being human is that disappointment is unavoidable. Whether we’re disappointed in others or disappointing others, we’re just not great at holding up our end of the bargain. It doesn’t mean we aren’t good. It means we aren’t perfect, and that’s okay. If we’re reaching to please everyone we know, we’ll be left burned out and frustrated that we failed (because we inevitably will).

The thing about God is that He is not like us. I think about the many criticisms laid against the Church, and it’s clear that they are criticisms of Its people. We have not done well to show the world what Jesus is like. Instead, we’ve shown them a washed down version of Him, a one-upping of ourselves that is based on a desire to please rather than a desire to love.

I laid in bed last night thinking about this. The disappointment. The sorrow of trusting humanity to fulfill our need and desire for purpose. We’ve seen pastors and leaders fall rapidly to their own disappointing faults, and we’ve seen all of us criticize each other. It’s what we’re best at. That, alongside criticizing the world, the government, our neighbors, ourselves, etc. In a world like this one, and often in a Church like the one we see now, disappointment and criticism go hand-in-hand.

While I never sought out to disappoint my oldest son because I didn’t want to play a board game, I did anyway. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad mom. Not in the slightest. It does mean I’m human, and falling short when it comes to the expectations of others is just part of the gig. I’ll make it up to my son because I love him.

This differs greatly from God. It is not possible for Him to disappoint us. It is not possible for Him to fail us or fall short when it comes to our expectations of Him. If He does, we’re not trusting, loving, relying on, or following God. We’re following our own idea of Him.

When we read the Bible, it’s full of stories of humanity interacting with a holy God. Never once does God fail. Humanity does. It’s our calling card. Even the most revered characters in the Bible are huge failures in multiple areas of their life. David is known for slaying a giant, but he also raped a woman and killed her husband (2 Samuel 11). Paul spread the Gospel far and wide, but he also persecuted and slaughtered Christians in the name of the Law (Acts 9).

You know who changes absolutely everything for us? Jesus. His work redeems us from our failings, our unavoidable disappointments. While following Him doesn’t mean we never make a mistake again, it does mean we have a higher standard to live up to.

God does not disappoint. People disappoint. It’s a remarkable difference.

The standard of our humility is on trial here. It is a sorrowful view when a person who leads us doesn’t have the wherewithal to recognize their inability to please each and every one of us. The sorrow snakes throughout the Church when we put our faith in people and not in an unfailing Creator. The sorrow leaks out and taints our witness. What should always be a reflection of Jesus quickly becomes a reflection of an ever-disappointing viewpoint of us.

Phew. It’s worth mentioning that we are not inherently bad. We were made to be good. It’s written in the first few words of the Word, and it’s written in the first few moments of our life. Our nature is a broken one, but at our core, we are good and worthy of being good. Disappointment doesn’t have to be our calling card or even our bloodline. Redemption can be. Humility should be. Love must be.

From beneath the surface, everything looks like sorrow. The view is coated in stains. But above the water, above the murky and suffocating nature, is real beauty. Real glory and freedom. We could rest in our disappointment, of ourselves and others. But I would rather now. We can’t forget the God who loved us first, loves us each second, loves us til the end.

He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations…for great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place.

David, 1 Chronicles 16:15, 25-27

10 Day Reflection: Nothing & Everything

“I care too deeply.”

The answer I would give if you asked me to describe my greatest weakness. I care so much my insides twist at the thought of disappointing even a stranger.

I am the queen of pushing myself to the side to appease the needs of others. The empathy within me runs deep. To help others at my own expense is a strength and a weakness; it is nothing and everything.

Imagine the height of my empathy in a year when everything collapsed and careened out of control. My core was ravaged by the idea of caring for all of the pain in the world. When it became too much, I totally withdrew. I cannot face conflict when there is too much of it. It feels like exposing a wound over and over to a grain of salt, expecting a different outcome when it all just feels like pain. So I wrapped myself in the softest thing I could find, disengaged from as much as I safely could, and saved my empathy for the people I love the most: my husband and my kids.

That has been the last nine months in a nutshell, only in a rollercoaster of a pattern, with great months and incredibly hard ones.

Maybe you relate, maybe you don’t. Maybe this year has been pretty okay. Maybe this year has been the hardest of your life. It has been all out of the ordinary, right? And while I dislike the idea of change, I know this year is ripe for it. I don’t know how many times I’ve said, “I just want things to be normal,” only to realize that normal has changed completely, for now. It’s like traveling without directions, walking with a blindfold, wondering how to walk a path we cannot see without knowing where we’re going. I’ve been stopped for a long while, unwilling to move. There’s nothing special about today. But it does feel like the right day to take some kind of step in one direction or another.

Ten days of reflection is a nice way of saying I like to publicly process even though I’m a pretty private person. Processing how things are different compared to the way they were a year ago. My brain longs to say, “It’s nothing!”. But really, it’s everything. Nothing is the same; everything has changed.

As I was finishing up classes this past week, I had the chance to study Romans 14. It’s a chapter about the importance of not being a “stumbling block” to others. In other words, don’t do things that make faith difficult for others. In even better words (aka my interpretation), don’t be selfish.

One sentence in this portion of his letter to the Roman church has stuck with me for days. He says, “If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love” (Rm. 14:15). In this context, some believers feel free to eat what they like. Others don’t. This isn’t so much an issue today. Most of us eat what we like without getting mad at each other about it. But we do have a habit of doing what we want without considering how it could impact others.

The thing about following Jesus is the longevity of it. Acting in love is not a choice we make one time. It’s a choice we make all the time. Maybe it’s just me, but there are days when I feel like we each have our own definition of what love is. Or what it looks like. We use the same logic to explain our differences in politics, ideologies, or behaviors. Until our love is God’s, it’s some lackluster version of it.

Nothing feels the same, but really, I think it’s better that way. What was normal is being unveiled, exposed for what it was. Much of the normality we experienced was fine. But why would we return to what was without being changed by all that has happened to us? Why would we guard ourselves against the light when the light is known for revealing what was left in the darkness?

Everything has changed. Today feels like the right day to acknowledge that it’s true. I fear change and what it could expose in me. But maybe what it’s exposed is what I need and what I needed to throw out of my sight. It frees us up to look around and see where we are, what stumbling blocks we’ve left in our wake. It gives us a chance to stretch our limbs and move towards those who need our love the most. God’s love.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s nothing. But maybe it’s everything.


I picked up the tube of mascara that I normally forgo every morning. Waterproof. I don’t need waterproof. I don’t plan on crying today. At least, I don’t feel stressed enough at this moment to warrant an overflow of emotion at the end of the day. But the other tube is empty. Actually, I can’t unscrew it because dried mascara has cemented it shut, so I threw it in the trash. Waterproof it is.

By the end of the day I’m scrubbing coconut oil on my 30-year-old eyelids, annoyed by the extra step this waterproof (unnecessary so far today) mascara is. I wash it away with face wash. Splash water on my face. I stand up tall to look in the mirror to make sure I got every bit, and it’s like my fingers snapped. Something clicked in my mind. Ten seconds have passed, and yet I’m realizing something fragile and true. With the snap of my fingers, clarity descended.

Before this year began, I had restlessness in my mind and my heart. Change was coming quickly, and I could feel it like an impending earthquake ready to dismantle what I’ve always known. Obviously, I didn’t anticipate…anything that this year entailed. But I did know something was changing in our life. I just didn’t know all the ways it would unfold.

To utter the truth, I didn’t know that 2020 would involve leaving our church home for a new one or leaving our community and friends for new people. I did know that God was calling us. But I am reluctant, stubborn as ever when change means taking action. Staying in the comfort of what we have always known was and is the safer option. It requires no risk. I can plan for it, line up my expectations, and live my life with little change. But God. We were called to leave. In the middle of a pandemic. I don’t know if that’s kindness or cruelty, but it felt like both some days. Everything we ever knew about familiarity, community, and the church body was thrown out the window. We had entered new terrain.

This year has also meant forgoing any (and all) of my plans. I am an empathetic person, and more often than not, I will do what works best for others. That’s not always a valuable characteristic. It depends on the situation at hand. This year has pushed me farther and farther to care for the needs of others. Where I thought I was compassionate, I have realized I am not. Where I thought I cared for my neighbor, I realized I didn’t really. This year has pushed me further: to be more like Jesus, more like His selfless, giving spirit.

As I rubbed the waterproof mascara from my eyes and looked at that woman in the mirror, I recognized her. The unidentifiable purpose for a year like this one had finally snapped into clear view. In a matter of seconds, I noticed it. Everything simultaneously felt flipped upside down and turned right side up. What has felt like a purely sacrificial year, a year of giving up everything, has been and will continue to be a year of preparation. Preparation for everything that God has meant for me.

And yet it feels nothing like preparation. What is preparation actually looks so mundane, boring, and inconsequential at this moment. Or it looks like everything that benefits everyone else except me. It feels like torture to do all the things I don’t want to do, pushed to my limits to do things against my nature in order to survive. It’s like trying to remove my waterproof mascara. Changing these habits of who I always was and who I thought I was meant to become…requires more than just water to cleanse. Sometimes it takes multiple steps to get rid of what has always been to make way for something new.

It’s getting closer to December. It has felt like the longest year of my life and the most difficult. Amen? We are all feeling some type of way. It is all hard, all testing, and all important. Every feeling that passes through me feels like wildfire or salt in wounds. Some days I don’t know how I’ll make it farther and farther. Yet here we are, months and months later, with a life that felt like it was hit by an earthquake, habits, and comforts upended that we’ve kept for years.

I don’t have any robust encouragement for you today. Saying that 2020 is a year of preparation might be true, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to make a plan to do all the things. It just means that while it is all hard, it doesn’t mean it is all for naught. When I find myself in the kitchen making something for my kids, I’ll turn the music up louder and sing to Jesus a little be more. I’ll cry when it feels like I need to and maybe even when I don’t. I’ll pray like my life depends on it because it does. And I’ll change. I’ll keep changing. I’ll wash off the old and find that newness there, too. Maybe it won’t be as pretty or put together as it was before. But at least it will be me. At least it will be true.

The Morning

I need the early morning. It would survive without me, but if I don’t wake to it, I breathe shallow breaths instead of deep, rejuvenating inhales.

This morning I opened my eyes to my alarm, and I laid there.

“Get up. Get up. Get up. You have to get up.” I say it in my mind until I’m awake enough to really hear it. My husband hates that I love to hit the snooze button. I’ll press it until 8 AM without question or thought. So I pester myself, pep-talk my way into wakefulness. I would rather close my eyes and go back to sleep. But what’s waiting for me is just as essential to my health as the sleep I crave.

I need the early morning, before my kids wake up, before I put clean dishes away, and before I do anything else. Just 15 minutes alone, time to pray, time to think, and time to read is all it takes for me to feel more like myself than if I choose to sleep in a little bit longer.

Get up. Get up.

The morning will move on with or without me. It will be there each day, waiting for me to fill its presence on my couch in the living room. It doesn’t need me for it to exist, it doesn’t need me for the promise of tomorrow. It is sure as the sun, sure as the moon, sure as the time that passes day by day. It welcomes me in whatever state I am in, which is so often disheveled and tired, unkempt, and messy. The morning sees the most vulnerable and unprotected version of me, the one that rolls out of bed with the hope that the morning will give me a little more of the peace that I so desperately need.

It’s hard to escape God when we live in a world like this one. People are unreliable in every way, even though they are made in the image of God. People let me down all the time. So unreliable. So unlikeable at times. Yet in the morning, when the sun rises and shines through my back door, snaking through the trees, I remember God better than before. The sunlight is like Him in so many ways: fierce and warm, reliable, and safe. The morning light is just as reliable. I can count on it to come through every day. Even if the sun is covered by clouds, still the sun rises. Even if the day is bleak, the morning still comes. Even if my bed would seem to be the safest place to hide from the world, still the morning finds me.

That’s the beauty of God. I wish that truth would permeate us like the warmth of sunlight. The truth is, it is not that God has to travel to come to us. He is as reliable as the morning: always there, ready, anticipating our welcome. We have to move toward Him. What’s more, even I don’t wake every day wanting to move toward that early morning light. Sometimes it’s just dark. Sometimes I am so tired, longing for the warmth of sleep, desperate for an escape from whatever the day holds. There are days when moving towards God feels just as painful as walking on the sun itself, feet burning, tears stinging in the heat. But the reward is always worth it: the moment I find myself in the reliable morning hours, I find Him right next to me. I look terrible. I look tired. I feel sluggish and unprepared for time with a God who loves me more than any sun in the sky. Yet He is always ready for me, always reliably present when I’m ready to be with Him, consistent as the sun.

What a relief it is that the rising of the sun doesn’t depend on me. What a relief that the presence of God is not dependent on my heart and soul. Both are near, regardless of me. Nothing we can do pushes Him away. Nothing we can do can stop the sun from rising and setting day in and day out. The least we can do is get up, make our way toward the couch where we’ll find Him waiting. Reliable as the sun. Reliable as the morning. He will meet us there.