Monday, August 22, 2016

again I will build thee...

"Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry. [...] For thus saith the Lord, sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations, publish ye, praise ye, and say, O Lord, save thy people, the remnant of Israel. [...] They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble..." (Jeremiah 31)

After some thought and prayer I'm moving on to a new blog again. From now on, you'll find us at I'll be back to blogging about normal life, but also sharing projects and inspiration, book reviews, and what I'm learning from the Word. Thanks for following!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

take root downward

 "And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall yet again take root downward, and bear fruit upward. For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this. Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the Lord. For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake. And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses." (II Kings 19:30-35)

Lately I've been wrestling with God through a lot of fear and doubt. I wonder if I'm fulfilling His callings in my life. I wonder if He'll really protect and see me through anything and everything life throws at me/us. I wonder if I can ever be enough. (I can't).

Escaping danger, sin, and turmoil and somehow finding a way to produce fruit in this wild and crazy world is possible only through Him: "the zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this." His job is to defend; my job is to "take root downward" - to choose to trust Him, to know that grounding myself in Him is the only answer to every question.

"Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the Lord, neither be dismayed, O Israel, for lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid." (Jeremiah 30:9-10)

This rest and quiet is something we all long for. I know... we just came through a beautiful wedding weekend and staying home for four days has been blissful. It's sometimes unclear how to live peacefully and yet radically - how to show Christ to the world and yet creating a warm and safe home for my children, for example. But perhaps they're one and the same - the way we live peacefully is such sharp contrast, so radically different, than the way people live in confusion. They advocate for this and for that, looking for something to stand on and stand behind... "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the TRUTH." (II Timothy 3:7)

I read a Corrie Ten Boom quote here that has stuck with me for the past couple days. "The world is deathly ill. It is dying. The Great Physician has already signed the death certificate. Yet there is still a great work for Christians to do. They are to be streams of living water, channels of mercy to those who are still in the world. It is possible for them to do this because they are overcomers."

I wish I understood exactly, day-to-day, what this looked like in my life - what it means to be a stream of living water or a channel of mercy. I wish I knew who to serve, who to help, how to give, when to say yes, when to say no, when to share, when to keep silent. But I do know that this is what I want to be.

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."
(I Timothy 2:1-4)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


I think we'd all like to have a few more of these in our lives... those handy little lines with points that show the way so clearly. I was reading the story this morning of when Jonathan shot the arrows to indicate to David his standing in the sight of the king. Wouldn't we all like to know sometimes - where exactly does our King want us? And what exactly does the next step look like?

As I read through I Samuel chapters 20 through 23 this morning, I realized something: David had no idea what to do either. Once he left Saul's house, he was running around, telling lies and acting like a mad man, hiding everywhere and always in a decent amount of danger. Jonathan's arrows were quite straight, but God's were definitely not, during those days of David's life.

God did, however, use many people and circumstances to point David in certain directions, and He did still have control:

"And David abode in the wilderness in strong holds, and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand. [...] And Jonathan Saul's son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God". (I Samuel 23:14, 16)

Anytime we're wondering if God is ever going to redeem and help us make sense of the scattered pieces and mistakes and conversations and relationships and commands to "go", "stay", or "do"... He is. He is protecting and strengthening us always, in ways that we cannot see. When His arrows seem absent, He is still guiding, and we must continue to "enquire" of Him.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

book review | having a martha home the mary way

This book was not what I was expecting when I first received it, which was a little bit disappointing; HOWEVER, I quickly realized that it actually would have been annoying if it had been what I was expecting, so all of that to say, I really like this book. Instead of just talking about cleaning your house (which would, admittedly, be less work), it makes you do it. It's a 31-day challenge to a cleaner house... but also to a "satisfied soul" as the cover states. Let's not be deceived...  cleanliness is not actually next to godliness, and a cleaner house does not ensure joy and peace within. However, it is inspiring... when we're clean and disciplined on the outside, it carries over to the inside... and vice versa. This book is definitely for any stay-at-home mom looking to organize the chaos a little bit - both spiritual and physical.

I'll preface this review by saying that I'm actually just getting started... or rather, thinking about getting started. I've skimmed through the book some, but want to do the actual challenge when I will be around for 31 actual days, which is probably not until... next year? No, but honestly, I did want to wait until school was out and homemaking was my primary role again.

One thing that I love about this book is that it puts equal emphasis and appreciation on the "Mary" and "Martha" parts of all of us. The "Mary" sections of each day urge us to connect what we're learning in the home to what we're reading in the Word, and offer spiritual encouragement and insight. There is actually space to write, so it's kind of like a Bible study. The "Martha" sections focus on the practical - what you're going to do (ex. clean the second bedroom's closet), with a plan, and maybe even some accountability. :) It also sometimes includes ways to get your kids involved, etc.

I also like the design, the fonts, and just the general content of this book, and then of course, maybe more than anything, I like that I can tell it's been written by someone just like me... a mom and homemaker with the best of intentions, and the many and varied challenges, and the understanding and the humor about keeping a house clean.

As I go through the book, I'm establishing habits, recognizing my own flaws and tendencies when it comes to housekeeping, working to overcome those, and finding balance. The balance is perhaps my biggest takeaway. This is a down-to-earth book about getting focused, organized, and realistic about keeping house - both inside and out. :)

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.

book review | land of silence

I took Land of Silence on a road trip, which was good... because I wouldn't have gotten anything done at home if I had been there. It was hard to put down. :) In some ways, it's just another Christian fiction book about a girl and a boy... but there are also some deeper themes running through it that I really appreciated.

It is not just a story. It is a story that takes you back to the day, begging you to ask yourself the question: who was the woman who touched the hem of Jesus' garment? This is author Tessa Afshar's fictional interpretation of her life, her dreams and ambitions, and her struggles. And honestly, she could be any of us.

The two themes that come to mind as I'm thinking back through the book are guilt and pride. Both are things that, for better or for worse, sometimes cause us to turn in certain directions at critical points in life and affect what we focus on and what we accomplish. Guilt over her brother's death pushed Elianna to set everything aside and throw herself into her father's fabric dyeing business, where she realized some incredible personal talents that she may never have discovered otherwise.

At the same time, that guilt and some pride and stubbornness keep her trapped in her trade when there were ultimately other, better things for her future.

And so it is with us... our experiences motivate us and act as little rudders in our lives; turning us this way and that way. But we cannot forget Who has ultimate control over the waves and the winds, and the rudders cannot do anything against His power. In the same way that Ethan pursues Elianna in this story; so He pursues us... even when we don't deserve Him.

The other theme I noted was redemption... and isn't that the story of our lives?

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Sunday, April 24, 2016


The Lord has more to teach me about His constancy in spite of changing circumstances, and He made truth so clear this morning when He directed me to read in Isaiah 32:

"Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city: because the palaces shall be forsaken; the multitude of the city shall be left; the forts and towers shall be dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks;
until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high
and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest." (vs. 13 - 15)

I'm amazed at the contrast between verses 13/14 and verse 15. The author so vividly describes the desolation that is life without Christ, and then the refreshing that is life in Christ. The only difference between the two? The outpouring of the Spirit.

"Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever." (vs. 16-17)

With the outpouring of the Spirit, He promises righteousness not only in the fruitful field, but also in the wilderness. "Assurance for ever".

"And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places; when it shall hail, coming down on the forest; and the city shall be low in a low place." (vs. 18-19)

We are promised rest and peace. Even when there is hail coming down on our fruitful forest, when we lift up our head and lightning strikes... we are promised sure dwellings.

We were eating out last night and sitting close enough to another table to catch quite a bit of their conversation. As I listened to them talk, the emptiness was almost overwhelming. The nights of worthless activities. The lack of fulfillment. The complete absence of living for any greater purpose at all. And my guilt set in, as it always does when I think too long about how much I've been given, how much I've been saved from, and how unbelievably beautiful it is to live life hand in hand with Christ.

And that's just it... when I recognize that it is Him - that I've been blessed with these things, there's no room for guilt. Because in Christ, there is justice, and righteousness - and "blessed are ye that sow beside all waters" (vs. 20)

Thursday, April 21, 2016


I decided this week that it would be a poor decision to ever buy a new house in February or March. By about that time this year, our four walls were closing in on me and I was feeling like something needed to change. But after a few evenings of debates about moving around walls and rearranging furniture, Grant made the comment to me - "Honey, just remember - if you're feeling discontent or restless right now - its still cold out." The implication was that things will all look better once warmer weather comes. And he was right. Today, we're sitting out back and playing with dolls and riding bikes and pushing the Cozy Coupe, and life does seem so much more open, alive, and manageable. We didn't move around any walls. Admittedly, we did rearrange the furniture. But mostly - the weather changed.

Circumstances impact us like that.

A year ago, I was in a circumstance, a situation, where I wasn't thriving. There was undoubtedly a lot of growing taking place, but not a lot of blooming. It's kind of like these daffodils I have that I should get around to planting. They won't bloom this year. They'll just be underground... not sure when they'll ever see the light. This year God has allowed me to begin to bloom - something that I'd hoped and prayed for. And it's been beautiful to see His hand at work - to watch Him go before me and gently, lovingly carve out circumstances and opportunities where He knew I could succeed. Sunshine has replaced storms.

The circumstances have changed.

But the lightning still strikes sometimes. I start to hold my head up, to feel Him and focus on Him, to drink from the rain He's sending - and suddenly I'm on my knees again, wondering who I am and what I'm supposed to be. I don't like everything I see in myself. I don't like how I respond to the lightning.

Circumstances do not have to control me. I have to be honest with myself about how they're affecting me, realizing that they're making life harder, or easier, or whatever. But when the lightning comes, His call is clear: "Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer... be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12)

In fact, as I'm sitting here right now at my kitchen table, a storm is rolling... dark, cloudy, rainy, and electric.. and I love being able to watch it all through this beautiful picture window and give thanks that I'm in here instead. :)

"Praise the Lord of hosts: for the Lord is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: and of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord." (Jeremiah 33:11)

Monday, February 29, 2016

a rushing mighty wind

It probably won't come as a surprise to you that NO, the Holy Spirit actually did not answer all of my questions about the present and future this morning. In fact, He really didn't do much guiding at all. But He did encourage, and at 4:30 this morning after getting up with a sick boy and submitting last-minute substitute plans, that felt rushing and mighty.

I am tired. I have been tired for as long as I can remember. It's not a busy-tired. I don't feel overworked or that there aren't enough hours in the day. It's more just a mental-tired. Tired of thinking. Tired of planning. And in my exhaustion somehow, to my shame, it has seemed overwhelming to interact with just one more person... my Savior.

Which means that, in the stress and decisions of life, I'm crippling myself by cutting off the source of all the strength I need and more. The fall is so subtle, just like the fall into any sin, but the results are the same. Spiritual isolation, and physical exhaustion.

I confessed this to Grant last night and this morning opened to Acts 2.

I felt God's assurance that He would speak clearly: "And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?" (vs. 8)

And then,
 "I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad: moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance." (vs. 25-28)

A while ago my brother-in-law was talking about the necessity of always being face-to-face with Jesus - not removing our focus from Him for an instant. He explained it a lot more eloquently but it's a mental image that I've gone back to many times as I've thought about what it looks like to follow Christ. As these verses from Acts 2 emphasize, the mental and consequently physical exhaustion that I feel sometimes would be alleviated completely if my mind was always on Him and my worries and cares cast away. It even says that "also my flesh shall rest in hope" - when the Lord is always before my face.

Hope is only possible when our vision is eternal, not temporal. God, I pray for that vision.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


I had been waiting for a good time to clean out the office closet. Is there ever a good time for such a task? Then yesterday afternoon I suddenly found myself doing it, almost by accident, and I decided that's kind of how those types of projects go. It was a thoughtless step of obedience, if you will… obedience to the duties of homemaking.

As I began sorting through some little clothes that were in that closet, it amazed me how holding up 0-3 month onesies and sleepers, 6-9 month dresses and tees, shoes in sizes 4 and 5… took me back to where we were when Ivory and Titus wore them. Ivory’s little shirts were ones I washed and hung out many times in Ixtlán, and are mostly destroyed from hours of crawling on concrete floors. Titus’s clothes were newborn sweatpants that I remember wearing on him when we lived in the U.S. during the summer of 2014. As I unfolded and re-folded clothes, I was right there, in those places… thinking back to other times when we took more important steps of blind obedience, wondering where they would lead.

Some led us through things I’m thankful for, but would never choose to do again. Some led us places I wish I could have stayed forever. Sometimes, those things and places were one and the same. But we believed, and still do believe, that they were places of obedience.

We regularly find ourselves at intersections in life where we stop and wonder… should we go? should we wait? should we act? should we move? Or should we stay? Sometimes, it’s the staying that’s the hardest part. Sometimes, I believe that not doing anything is actually even harder than doing something! And so we find ourselves at that point again… and again… and again.

And sometimes, that is the answer… to just keep doing what we are doing. This all came together for me last night in church, when we read in I Thessalonians 4:

“but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.” (I Thessalonians 4:10-12)

We are to just keep walking every step with him, and there will be lack of nothing. Whatever it is that you’re waiting for, worship Him while you wait – don’t turn to the right or to the left. Just keep walking… toward Him.

“I'm waiting, I'm waiting on You Lord
And I am hopeful, I'm waiting on You Lord
Though it is painful, but patiently I will wait

And I will move ahead bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I'm waiting I will serve You
While I'm waiting I will worship
While I'm waiting I will not faint
I'll be running the race even while I wait

I'm waiting, I'm waiting on You Lord
And I am peaceful, I'm waiting on You Lord
Though it's not easy no, but faithfully I will wait
Yes, I will wait

And I will move ahead bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience…”

- John Waller, 'While I'm Waiting'

Monday, January 4, 2016

book review | brave enough

Brave Enough is about courage and calling, and it contained all the messages I needed to hear to begin the new year. This is a new thought for me - but it does take courage to live life - a lot of it. During one of my classes today, I found my mind wandering as I made my rounds in the room, checking student work. They were essentially self-teaching (or self-reminding) some classroom procedures on this first day back from winter break, and I suddenly felt a strong temptation to just drop it all. Just stop trying to raise children, instill values, teach lessons... just stop. It's all so overwhelming sometimes... with them, and with my own two little toddlers at home.

But of course, that's not what we've been given to do in this world. Rather... "we are women with a mission. We've been given a job to do - to take our ordinary selves and allow God to transform us into bold, beautiful, brave women with hearts that go after what his heart goes after - a passionate love for his people and a desire for all to "be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (I Timothy 2:4). (from page 195). 

It's ironic, because I was just telling Grant on our anniversary getaway to Chicago that my heart feels more burdened than ever for the lost - and I feel more lost than ever on how to reach them. But as I welcomed my students back into the classroom after two weeks away, I realized that it doesn't really have anything to do with me reaching them. It's about being a shell - and allowing God to reach them  - through me. Because on my own, I certainly don't have the patience to listen to a student tell me about how his new drone works, or gently re-iterate my behavior expectations for the eighteenth time. God can do those things through me though, and that is how the lost get found. 

Brave Enough is also about giving grace. Author Nicole Unice writes, "Let's not miss the truth that seeking God's grace and extending God's grace is what we all need more of, in all the day-to-day interactions where anger tends to build. [...] Giving grace takes courage. It takes grit-your-teeth, white-knuckled courage to decide that you are going to see something differently. That you are going to let someone off the hook. It takes courage to identify hurt, to feel hurt, and to turn that hurt over to God so that he can deal with it." (97)

Yes. Courage and grace. Stepping forward into a new year - these are the keys to growth and change in my life. I highly recommend Brave Enough - it is one of the best books I have read and it is one that I will go back to regularly. 

I received a copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my review.