A Bunch of Good Stuff

photo 4Friends, next time I invite you to something you better show up. Because you really missed out this time. This weekend we hosted a live simulcast of the IF: Gathering – a new conference for women with many phenomenal speakers, to challenge us If God is real, then what? I took several pages of notes – all of which could be blog posts – but I’m sitting here trying to figure out what to share with you first.

The founder of IF, Jennie Allen, shared that her biggest fear is that we would leave the conference and do a bunch of good stuff.  Good stuff doesn’t change the world or cause the world to see Jesus. What does? Repentance. Jesus often said “repent and believe.” The “good stuff” isn’t bad. But good stuff should be a natural consequence of our relationship with Jesus.

You don’t want to leave your comfort zone, you say? Wherever God takes you, you are with the Comforter – the Holy Spirit lives inside you – you’re always in the comfort zone.

The basis for IF: Gathering is Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.”

What weights are holding you back? Are you looking around to see how you measure up to others? Do you compare yourself – am I as smart, pretty, or talented as her? As Ann Voskamp shared, let’s break our measuring sticks. Let’s stop holding the weight of comparison and opinions. Measuring sticks only become weapons of self-harm. They always lie.

Instead of comparing and measuring up, let’s carry each others’ burdens and prayers. Let’s stop trying to steal, earn, or buy acceptance and love from the wrong places and realize that Jesus is the only One who will – and has – loved us to death.

What is God speaking to you today? I like to make to-do lists and check things off. But I’m realizing more and more that if I fix my eyes first on Jesus, my to-do list will naturally flow from my relationship with Him.

When Mother’s Day Isn’t Happy

IMG_1761I was at the grocery store on Friday shopping with Jack and already the cashier was saying “Happy Mother’s Day.” While I appreciated their comments, I wondered if I should say it back to her. She didn’t have any children with her, obviously, so how could I know if she’s a mom.  Really the awkwardness of it just reminded me of how this special day can be challenging for so many. While it is great to set aside a day to celebrate the wonderful mothers in our lives, maybe you can take a minute to remember and pray for those who’s day is sad.

  • Children whose mothers have recently died
  • Mothers who have lost children through miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant loss
  • Women who long to be mothers but struggle with infertility, or aren’t married, or don’t have the opportunity to become a mom
  • Women who are like mothers – physically, spiritually, emotionally mothering others

I read a letter online recently also bringing attention to churches about recognizing moms in church. Its a great letter so you should check it out.

Last year while I was pregnant with Jack I wrote about being a “Mom.” I know it resonated with a few friends so I thought instead of rewriting something really similar I would just repost it below.

May 11, 2012 – Mother’s Day for a “Mom”

IMG_1750Mothers Day is challenging for me. People see me pregnant now and say “Maybe this will be your first Mothers Day!” as if delivering the baby before then will ensure that I am a mom this Mothers Day. I don’t understand why we say life begins at conception and consider the thing inside me to be a baby, but don’t consider pregnant women mothers.

Furthermore, last year was my first Mothers Day. It was about two months after I gave birth to Caleb and proceeded to lay him in the grave. Just because my two children aren’t in my arms doesn’t mean I’m not a mom, or any less of a mom than someone else.

But what are you supposed to say to me: “Happy Mothers Day?” It’s kind of happy. I’m certainly excited about this new little one and getting to meet him face to face soon. I’m happy that I had Caleb, even though it was a short time. I’m happy to celebrate my wonderful mom and mother-in-law, my grandmother-in-law, my sisters who are moms, and a host of other great mom examples.

But for me Mothers Day is lonely. It’s a reminder that Caleb isn’t here. He can’t ever be replaced with another child. I imagine part of me will always feel like this on Mothers Day.Someone is missing. When people acknowledge me on Mothers Day, it’s a reminder of this. Yet when people don’t acknowledge me, it makes me feel like Caleb has been forgotten.

I feel like I’m a “mom,” always having to qualify my role… “Is this your first child?” Kind of…. When they ask all the moms to stand up at church, do I stand? What questions will I have to answer then? If I don’t stand, is it like I’m ignoring Caleb?

I don’t write this so that you’ll acknowledge me in some way on Mothers Day. It’s really not about me. It’s really about a Mom who doesn’t want her children to be overlooked. I’m sure there are other “moms” in your life: women who have struggled with infertility, women who have miscarried, women who never had the opportunity to give birth to their own children. Maybe you’ll just take a minute to think about what makes someone a Mom. As you celebrate this year, be sensitive to the “moms” whose children aren’t in their arms but are forever in their hearts.

For the Moms, the “moms,” and all others, may this Mother’s Day be a day of celebrating the wonderful mothers in your life, but more importantly celebrating the God who loves us and is our example of how to love others.

“Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving; let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7

Where Is God?

“Sometimes the greatest gift we can receive isn’t just healing, but the power to endure.”

I just heard this on the radio as they talk with Craig DeMartino, a rock climber who fell 100 feet and is miraculously alive (Check out his book to read more of his story).

There’s been a lot of heartache lately both locally and in national news. A man who took his own life leaving a wife and son, the sudden passing of our friend Heidi, Rick Warren’s son who committed suicide, and now the horror in Boston.

Lives lost
Many injured
Grieving families
Survivors wondering why they’re alive

Amidst it all people wonder Where is God? And all of a sudden, trying to answer this question, I feel totally incapable. Here’s what God says:

The Lord is near to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8

All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before even one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16 (Read what I wrote about God’s timing in our lives)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … No in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Romans 8:35,37


A Joyful Life

Yesterday morning I wrote about Psalm 139 and how all of our days are numbered, planned by God before even one comes to be. I often share those thoughts with friends who have lost babies, and so I thought I should write it down for others. Little did I know that a few hours later I would hear the news that it was the last day for my friend Heidi.

HeidiI knew Heidi from Bible study where she was a small group leader – my small group leader in the beginning. But her faith was contagious and she shared it with everyone, so her small group was becoming large. We split into two groups and my sister Cathy became my leader. Cathy and Heidi were good friends, which is mostly how I knew Heidi.

Heidi was a joyful, compassionate woman who lived her life loving the Lord. She was often at the front door of Bible study to greet people with a smile and a hug saying “I’m glad you’re here, friend!” And often tell me “I’ve been praying for you.” Although she said this to many people, it was genuine. I think she prayed for the whole town! Everyone counted her a friend. What a blessing her friendship was!

We call her death unexpected – and it was to us. She leaves behind a husband and four young children. But her death wasn’t unexpected to the Lord. I remember writing about Psalm 139 yesterday and how easy it was. Its easy to write something, but it takes faith to live it. Some might call Heidi’s death tragic, a life cut short. As unfair as it feels to us, its not tragic to Heidi. You can be sure that she is rejoicing with the Lord in heaven.

Heidi’s life impacted many people. I can’t even begin to imagine the number of people who will be in heaven some day, having accepted Jesus as their Savior because of Heidi’s testimony. We will all certainly miss her – her leadership, her example of faith, her compassion for others, and her joy for the Lord.

Heavenly Father, may You comfort us as we mourn and miss Heidi. May You surround her family with Your love and give them Your peace that passes all understanding. Thank You for being near to the brokenhearted. May You remind us every morning that today is a gift from You. May Your light shine through us to reach a dark world with Your unfailing love.

Never Early Never Late

If  you have ever tried to meet up with me for lunch, you would know the title of this post doesn’t describe me. I am often late… at least now I can blame Jack, right?

In the early days of our marriage, Jeff would yell to me “We’re leaving in five minutes for church!” Which was approximately five minutes after I woke up. Thankfully I’ve had lots of practice getting ready in a short amount of time (basically because I’ve done this my whole life). Then I’d get downstairs, Jeff would be standing at the back door, and I’d proceed to fill a water bottle, and/or make a chai, and grab a granola bar. Jeff still doesn’t understand why I always have at least one beverage with me. What can I say? I like to stay hydrated. And, I’d like to point out, that he often steals a sip from my water bottle.

While “never early, never late” doesn’t describe me, although I’m getting better, it does describe God. A lesson I learned most tangibly after having Caleb.

“All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before even one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16

All of Caleb’s days – 19 weeks 3 days – were planned by God before Caleb was even conceived. It’s easy in our human nature to say Caleb was born too soon and died too soon. No matter how old our loved ones are, we would be likely to say they died too soon. Before our hearts were ready to say goodbye.

Knowing that Caleb’s days had been planned by God has always comforted me. There’s nothing I could have done to prolong his life. His premature birth wasn’t a surprise to God. It was His plan.

Your child, teenager, mother, grandpa didn’t die too soon. They had lived every day God has given them. Although we can question and wonder why God would allow children to die, we know that heaven is way better than earth. Our hearts may hurt and long for them, but they are experiencing more joy than we can imagine.

I wonder how many days God has planned for me. And for you. Every day really is a gift from Him. May you find peace, comfort, and joy knowing that the God who created you has planned your days and loves you more than you can imagine.

Caleb Chun - Feb 24, 2011

Caleb Chun – Feb 24, 2011

I Was At The Cross

I was at the cross. I watched as Jesus hung there between two criminals, yet He is an innocent man. Why does it have to be like this? The pain, torture, agony. I thought He was the Messiah. The One we’ve waited for but I didn’t expect Him to be crucified.

A crowd has gathered to watch Jesus suffer. Some, like me, are sad and confused. Others just mock Him, tease Him about being King of the Jews. “He IS the King!” I want to shout but I’m afraid they’ll put me on a cross too. Isn’t Jesus going through enough? Just leave Him alone.

I can hear the criminals talking to Jesus. “Save yourself and save me too,” says the one, just mocking Jesus. But the other criminal… he seems to know the truth. “We are guilty. We deserve this. But this man, Jesus, is innocent.”

I stand here paralyzed by grief as tears stream down my face. Jesus is almost unrecognizable because of the beatings He has endured. He doesn’t deserve this.

I think about what He said. The miracles He did: feeding thousands with just a few loaves of bread, healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, bringing Lazarus back from the dead! He has led an amazing life, always pointing to the Lord. A perfect life. He shouldn’t be hanging on a cross.

Me on the other hand… the things I’ve said and done and thought … I should be the one on the cross.

I try to fit these puzzle pieces together in my mind to make sense of all that is happening. Before I know it, Jesus speaks: “It is finished.” He took His last breath and He’s dead.

It is finished…? What is finished? It seemed like it was just beginning…


NOT a Diet Book

When I was on bed rest several friends, acquaintances, even strangers – very nice strangers – signed up to bring dinner over. It was wonderful! One of these nice strangers has become a friend from my Bible study. She had brought Greek food, and while I’m not a very adventurous eater, I loved it! Last week I was thinking I should make what she had made us, but my knowledge of Greek food is so little I didn’t even know what to google (I guess you could say “it’s all Greek to me!” Ha!)

So I emailed my friend explaining my conundrum and she promised to bring recipes to Bible study. (My friend will remain nameless just in case she’s not this nice to everyone). Bible study mornings can be kind of busy for me between making sure Jack is taken care of in the nursery and practicing music with the band. This particular morning my friend had to leave early so she hands me a bag and says “I’ll email you about the book.”

I open the bag after study and pull out The South Beach Diet book. Most people may think a diet book… what is she trying to tell me?! Which is why I received an email from her later with the subject line “I did NOT give you a diet book!” I wasn’t offended. Not only did she buy me a cookbook with the recipes I wanted, but she went through and flagged her family’s favorite meals! She’s pretty amazing.

It was like a strange giveaway at bible study that week because I also received a reminder card to hang in the shower about breast self-exams to prevent breast cancer. [Other weeks I’ve received a gingham print children’s chair with “Jackson” embroidered on it, as well as a small bag with “Jack” embroidered which has come in handy to tote around Jack’s toys and food! Both passed down to us from an older Jackson and Jack. It’s so great!]


Oh yeah, and it was also a great lesson… praising God even in the midst of our suffering. When you’re going through a hard time, it’s like you have a checklist: talk to friends, read self-help book, eventually pray … But praise God. Thank God even for the hard time you’re going through. It doesn’t seem natural.

When we fix our eyes on the Author of our faith, the Sustainer of the universe, Creator of the world, Lover of our souls, we realize He does have a plan and as much as we dislike what is currently happening we can trust Him. This horrible thing in our life didn’t surprise the Lord. It hasn’t caught Him off guard. It has been woven into His perfect plan, with perfect timing, in our life and He will work all things together for us who love Him and are called to His purpose (Romans 8:28). I wonder what bible study will be like tomorrow!

Love It. Hate It.

I’ve found recently there are several things I both love and hate simultaneously. I’ve been making a mental list in preparation for this blog.IMG_3869

1. Jack will be fussy late afternoon despite my fun and creative playing with him. Then Jeff walks through the door and Jack smiles and cheers like he’s been a perfect little boy.
Love It: Jeff’s a great dad and I’m glad Jack is happy to see him.
Hate It: what’s wrong with playing with me?

2. In the middle of the night Jack sometimes cries. As soon as I pick him up he is quiet and asleep in my arms.
Love It: Jack is so cute and cuddly when he is asleep!
Hate It: I had to get out of bed and walk on a cold floor.

Jack cuddling with Mama because he wouldn't sleep in his crib. Another Love/Hate.

Jack cuddling with Mama because he wouldn’t sleep in his crib. Another Love/Hate.

3. When Jack and I arrive to see family, or friends, or Bible study. People immediately greet Jack.  It takes about half an hour later for them to say hi to me.
Love It: Jack is so cute and fun and smiles when he sees you, not to mention he’s changing everyday, so it makes sense people would greet him more.
Hate It: You know Jack wouldn’t be here visiting you unless I had driven him over 😉

4. Usually Jack is with me at the grocery store. He sits in the cart like a little big boy and smiles at everyone we see, especially those of grandparent-age. People smile back, tell me how adorable he is, and often we are in conversation for a few minutes. Shopping without Jack is quicker, but less friendly. People aren’t as forgiving when you almost run into them with your cart.
Love It: I enjoy showing Jack off and getting into conversations with strangers. I think Jack brightens people’s days.
Hate It: I can brighten people’s days too. I smile. Just smile back once in awhile.

5. Sometimes I worry about Jack: what he’s eating, who can babysit him, what he’s going to be like when he grows up, he’s going to grow up and not be in my arms anymore. But continually God is reminding me that He is in control – not me, as much as I think I am often. God holds Jack in His hands. His purposes are greater than I can imagine. I can trust the Lord with everything, including my precious Jack.
Love It: My faith is growing as I learn to let go of my concerns and realize that God cares and God is in control.
Hate It: I don’t want to worry. I know I have to continually surrender my cares to God.

“Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)

“Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders— He’ll carry your load, He’ll help you out. He’ll never let good people topple into ruin. But you, God, will throw the others into a muddy bog, Cut the lifespan of assassins and traitors in half. And I trust in you.” Psalm 55:22-23 (The Message)

Judging a Book By Its Cover

I’m ready for my soccer game. My team is red, which means I just need to wear a red t-shirt. Not a problem for me. My favorite color is red. In addition to my red t-shirt, I have on red socks, red shorts, and a red fleece. It’s times like these where I say to myself, It’s ok to buy things that aren’t red.

Have you ever judged a book by its cover? Have you made an assumption about who someone is before you even got to know them?

I was reading about that in the Bible. God was showing Samuel who should be chosen as king. Samuel looked at the tallest, good looking men. “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7


Only Two Roads

There are only two roads in life: the narrow road that leads to heaven or the wide road that leads to destruction. Which road are you on? Which road do you want to be on?

I listened to a message on the radio today by Pastor James MacDonald about Walking in the Light. I really enjoyed it. I wish I could have written down what he was saying, but I was driving. I wish I had more time to write about what he said, but I don’t today and I don’t want to forget. So take 20 minutes and listen to the message. Let me know what you think!

Go to: http://www.jamesmacdonald.com/
Click “Listen” below Today’s Broadcast