Sunday, September 27, 2015


Here is Day 14 of my Faith Challenge for work.....


Sept 27

Make time for rest today.

Exodus 20:11 "For in six days the LORD made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.

How do you make time for rest? Your physical and emotional well-being need rest. We must find time for it. How can you make time for rest during the week?

Rest is not natural. It’s more natural to push ourselves to our limits. I believe we have to be taught to rest. We may crave it in the midst of running ourselves ragged but we will not choose it and make room for it in our life, unless we are intentional.

Looking back, I realize that I grew up practicing Sabbath. Sundays were always different from other days: church, lunch with my family, naps or watching TV, and then back to church for evening service. It’s just how it was. I think my parents intended for us to rest but they weren’t strict about it nor was it a legalistic thing within our family. My parents also had a rule that all homework was done on Friday or Saturday so that we didn’t have to wait until Sunday afternoon and be pushing into our evening. Of course, with evening service every Sunday there wasn’t much time for that anyway.

Sabbath means “to cease” which means we cease all things we do on normal days. We cease regular work; we cease striving. God knew this. That’s why He set it up from the beginning. We were meant to work but not to work so hard that we are making ourselves our own god, not so hard that we are creating our own sense of security and identity. That is His job. He is our provider and through Sabbath, we learn to trust Him in new ways.

Jeff and I learned the practice of Sabbath from our pastor (now Bishop) as Jeff worked through his graduate degrees. During that time our little family always took Sundays together as a Sabbath but now, with being in church ministry, this is not possible. Jeff takes his Sabbath on Fridays and I do Sunday afternoons. I wish there was a way to do this together but it hasn’t worked out yet. Our schedules are a little odd and we work things out the best we can in this season of raising little ones as well.

For my Sabbath, I arrange my schedule so that I do not do my meal planning or grocery shopping on Sunday afternoon. These are some of my striving areas that kind of make me crazy. But I cease them on Sundays. I read, watch TV, take walks, and play with the kids. I seek quiet and leisure and sense of remembering who I am before the crazy of the week hits again. Sometimes I fold laundry but I’m not hard on myself about it. I like the rhythm of folding laundry as I watch football with Jeff on Sunday evenings. It’s calming.

Additionally, I’m a big proponent of rhythm over balance because with balance, I begin to compartmentalize my life and it becomes a conquering thing. When I get in a conquering mode, I forget to listen to God. Recently, soccer season threw off my regular rhythm that I know I can work within to keep myself healthy and functioning. I’ve been cranky and extra tired. After a couple weeks of some (whining and) asking God what I do now, I got the idea of late Friday nights away doing writing, meal planning, and shopping when the kids are in bed. This has helped make me even more ready for Sabbath. I’ve done the hard stuff of preparing for the next week on Friday night and all day Saturday. On Sunday it’s time to just be. It’s time to cease.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Here is Day 11 of my Faith Challenge for work....


Make a list of areas in your life you're afraid to face.

Isaiah 41:13
"For I hold you by your right hand - I, the LORD your God. And I say to you, 'Don't be afraid. I am here to help you.'

Are there areas of your life that you're afraid to face? Starting an exercise program, visiting a new church, going back to school or making a career change? All of these things can be scary, but have faith and know that the Lord is right there beside you through it all! Look to Him for guidance and lean on Him.

1. Starting a spiritual direction program. Would I have time for the homework and discussions while also working and parenting young ones and running a church? (Answer: Probably not. Translation: Am I crazy?!!?) What would be the point of the program for me? Would it be a new career for me at some point? Is God calling me into spiritual direction? How does this fit with my calling as an editor? What if I don’t want to be a traditional spiritual director who works with clients one on one? More than that…what if God wants me to be a traditional spiritual director?

I do know that spiritual direction is something that keeps coming back to me. Even when I try to let it go, it comes back and I think about it a lot. Recently I read a book with some background on Saint Ignatius that I didn’t know before and I was totally nerding out over it. This has to mean something. I’m guessing not every person is as excited about Ignatian practices as I am! What will become of this dream?

2. Facing other parents who appear “put together” and keeping up with the general expectations on me that come with school/sports. So….I got straight up cranky when school began this year (on August 12th! Just rob me of my summer, why dontcha?) because I felt I had to change into “responsible school mommy” when all I want to do is sleep and leave the kids at home with Jeff while I go to work. The girls’ school has been better over the years about how much is put on the parents (example: way less fundraisers) but it is so hard to work and be a mom. I want to be available for everyone if they need me and attend more things like field trips but it’s not possible for me so I feel like less of a good parent. The more I feel a weight of expectation on me, the more I want to give up and eat more Pringles while lying on the couch.

Likewise, soccer expectation is doubled with both girls doing it this season. More gear and other things to remember. And if I forget something, it feels like everyone at the field knows it. A couple weekends ago I packed like 27 things for the kids because it was going to be a 5-hour stint at the park with only a little time to run home in between. Well, I remembered all the snacks, uniforms, water bottles, cleats, balls, shin guards, and the baby sippy cup. Forgot the sunscreen and it was scorching hot that day. Actually, didn’t forget the sunscreen, just had it pre-packed for a camp Kyla was attending two days later. So, we all got sunburned. Good job, mommy. Good job. When soccer season starts, I am afraid of these moments of being unprepared. They seriously keep me up at night.

3. Holidays. I heard yesterday that someone on the floor above me at work put up Christmas decorations—on the first day of Fall. This makes my eye start twitching. Christmas comes with so many expectations and so many details to remember. I don’t want it to be Christmas yet. I’m still surviving soccer season over here. The leaves have barely changed! Now, I will say this…Jeff and I have scaled way, way back on Christmas since we first got married. We still decorate on the Sunday evening after Thanksgiving and order pizza. Always have done that tradition. We keep to our budget on gifts pretty well and we don’t do all the things we could possibly do. We do gingerbread cookies some time the week before Christmas and Christmas dinner is simple. Jeff and the kids even help with making it. One Christmas Jeff took the kids sledding so I could have some quiet for a couple hours on Christmas morning. Best. Gift. Ever. Then we spend the afternoon watching movies. But somehow every year I spot someone else doing something that I deem a “good idea” during the Christmas season and why didn’t I think of that? And I should do that too. Remember how I’m giving up my “shoulds”? Well, Christmas brings out a lot of shoulding on myself. I have to be extra aware and vigilant about my negative self-talk.

So, there you have it. These are some of the things I think about and worry about regularly at this point in my life. They might seem kind of silly but they are my things. Honest and open. There is a theme here—expectations and not measuring up. This is a continual theme in my life that I have to keep coming back to and inviting God into to work through new layers of my struggle with perfectionism. I’m grateful I have more tools now. I want God to come help me and guide me and remind me that He is not concerned about my measuring up. But He is concerned about how I treat myself in the midst of my fears about expectations.

Further, I know it’s possible for Him to help me. Notice, I didn’t list being in church leadership as a fear. I also didn’t list fearing that I will step out of God’s will and be punished. Those were my big fears a few years ago. But those are things that God worked to heal and help me with through some very big events. I know He can help me with the current list.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Laughter and Life

Here's Day 10 of my Faith Challenge for work (skipped sharing a few more days here)....


Sept 23

Reach out and help someone with positive words of encouragement.

Proverbs 18:20
"Wise words satisfy like a good meal; the right words bring satisfaction."

Has someone positively impacted your life with the right words? How can you reach out and help someone with positive words of encouragement?

A few years ago, someone said something to me in a church setting that triggered my issues with legalism and spiritual abuse. Being sensitive to these things can be a blessing and a curse.  A blessing because it makes me aware of my words and actions as a leader in the church. A curse because it can reduce me to anger and tears in no time. That night it was a curse.

I got into the car in the church parking lot and started crying and pounding on the steering wheel the minute the door shut. My poor girls starting crying too because I scared them. I was yelling so loud.

Jeff calmed the girls down and then listened well to my tirade, “Will it ever get better? In the church will we always shame and control one another? How the &*%$ can this be happening to me again? This is exactly what I’ve been trying to escape for the last 10 years!”

Around that same time, a friend texted Jeff to ask how I was. He knew what kind of a meeting I walked into that evening and thought it might be triggering me. Jeff texted back, “Well, she’s currently crying and cussing. So…you know…”

After I calmed down enough to drive, we headed toward Taco Bell. It was late and I sure wasn’t planning to cook. I was still crying as I ordered and received my food. The guy at the window gave me a strange look when he handed me my bags and asked about sauce. *Sniff, sniff.* Yes, some hot and mild. Certainly my most emotional experience in a drive thru.

I got home and paced around the house, still yelling a bit and throwing my hands up in the air. “I don’t know what to do. I’m lost!”

It was not a situation I could easily leave because I was committed to being in leadership at this particular place. In another time or situation, I would simply walk away. Jeff suggested a friend to e-mail. Someone older and wiser who had been through similar pain. Yes, yes! She would know what to do!

I sat down and wrote out the situation as best as I could.

The next morning I received my reply. She was empathetic. Expressed how hard this was for me. She could understand. Then she said something surprising. She told me to find the good things of life to enjoy. She told me to laugh with my children and to find and pursue the things that are life-giving. She knew I was in a hard place that required my full commitment and that spiritual warfare was very much at work. She told me that joy would combat the darkness.

So I did. I took the kids to the park. We watched movies and visited our favorite library. I allowed more time for lingering and laughter.

There it was: laughter. That was the thing that would walk me through the spiritual abuse and legalism surrounding me once again. God didn’t make the darkness and He certainly is not for us abusing each other in His name. But He did create joy. He did create life and He is the only one who can give life in the midst of pain and struggle. This was my new goal: joy.

I have never forgotten her words.


A few weeks ago, a friend was wheeled into emergency surgery. I messaged her sister for details and hoped to visit her in the hospital. She went through another surgery before they finally released her. I missed my opportunity to see her in person at the hospital but still determined to check in with her after she got settled at home.

Instead, she called me.

She didn’t know I had been praying for her procedure. She told me she was receiving some conflicting advice about recovery and it felt very frustrating. Plus, she has a young family to care for. How would she do it while on resting for a few weeks?

I listened. I really had very few answers, other than to tell her about a couple of ridiculous examples from my own life when people have tried to tell me what to do and how I can’t possibly live up to all they’re asking me to do at one time. If I did, I would never get anything done. My examples were so outlandish that we got to laughing pretty hard on the phone. Hopefully I didn’t do any damage to her stitches!

At the end of the conversation, as I wiped away tears of laughter, she sighed and said, “I knew I should call you. I knew you would make me feel better.”

I really feel as if God gifted those moments to us. Moments of joy when she was full of such uncertainty and questions. In all of her pain and struggle, we found joy together.

There is a way to tear others down, such as what I received that night at a church meeting. But the right words satisfy. I’m so grateful that those right words are the ones that stuck with me. In fact, I have to think very hard now to remember the spiritually abusive phrases that had me cowering in my seat that evening. They are there. But they are buried. I would have to concentrate really hard to be back in that place. What I do remember is the life-giving words that gave me a new trajectory to claim.

Yes, wise words satisfy like a good meal. (Better than Taco Bell!) I’m praying for the Holy Spirit to give me more of those right and good words. And laughter too. I want more of that.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Living Word

Here's Day 7 (skipped sharing Day 6) of my Faith Challenge for work...


Sept 20

Read God's word to have a purposeful life. 

Psalm 57:3
"I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill His purpose for me."
If your best friend gave you a letter before leaving on a trip and said, "Read this before I get back," you would read it right away. God has left you not just a letter but a book and has said, "Read this before I return, because it tells you exactly what you need to know to have a purposeful life." Will you read it?

Hmmm….I’m not loving the analogy above because I believe God’s Word is living. It’s not just something to read once and then done. It is active and the Holy Spirit works through it regularly to transform those who open its pages.

It’s impossible to count the number of ways I have been changed by God’s Word. As a child it was about memorization and reading stories. All the stories of Moses, David, and Paul. Looking back, I’m a little surprise that as a 4th grader I read things like the story of Samson and Delilah for Sunday School. But, you know, I supposed I learned something about God then too. Or perhaps it was a moral lesson. I just couldn’t even understand how Samson couldn’t just say no. Sheesh, dude, you know what God said, right? So don’t do it. Don’t cut your hair!!

Memorization was, of course, part of AWANA, summer camp, and Christian school. Then, there was also the push to have daily devotions. We did them every year for summer camp in our little booklets and mom would take me to The Lord’s Vineyard to buy elementary age devotionals. (The Lord’s Vineyard was an 80’s Colorado Springs thing, around long before all the ministries landed in this town. Think Christian bookstore pre-Mardels. That place was great. It’s where we bought Psalty records and cassettes of Sandi Patty’s Friendship Company. I even once saw a picture of Chuck Swindoll dressed up in some sort of leather outfit not long after the movie The Terminator came out. The poster said “The Serminator”. Haha!)

Sometimes I loved reading the Bible for fun. Sometimes it was just the thing to do. It was what you were told was good. But along the way, whatever the motive, I fell in love with God’s Word. I wanted to teach it to everyone I could. I even taught my stuffed animals as a child when I would hold Sunday School in my room and use a flannel blanket for flannelgraph. God’s Word gripped me early.

The only time I can remember not really wanting to read it regularly was a couple years after Bible college. I had dissected the Bible to the point that it became a textbook. I think that kind of learning was necessary. In fact I know it was but it left me in a bit of a funk around my senior year of college. I believe there was incredible grace from God in that time. He understood. He knew I would be back.

One of my most prized possessions is my Bible that I received on my 17th birthday from my parents. This was in a time of turmoil in their marriage so the fact that they gave this Bible to me together means a lot. It’s also the Bible where I marked up Psalms and Isaiah as I read while my parents were separated for two years, prior to their divorce. My dad marked Colossians 2:4–12 for me the week before I left for college. The margin there says “From Dad.”

A couple lines above it I marked Colossians 1:28–29 with the words “Good for CE” (or Good for Christian Education):

He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.

I don’t use that copy of the Bible too much anymore. Can’t carry it to church or anything. When Kyla was a (very strong-willed) baby she ripped out the maps in the back when I wasn’t looking and the first page of Jonah while I was prepping a youth group lesson. I don’t know what she had against Paul’s missionary travels or Jonah and the big fish but she made her feelings known, I guess. Yes, that Bible has so much character and holds a lot of God’s work in my life in between its pages.

Most recently I’ve come to enjoy reading the paraphrase The Message. What’s so great about The Message is that verses I’m tempted to kind of skim or say, “yeah, yeah, I know what that says already” become a whole new thing for me. I slow down. I pause. I see Scripture in a new way. I believe God gifted Eugene Peterson very specifically to complete this paraphrase. (If you’re curious how Peterson started writing it, check out Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading where he shares the story. It was originally meant for the church he was pastoring and it morphed into something that has changed many, many lives.)

I always, always read The Message alongside the NIV. I have loved NIV for many years as well since that’s what I used at my Christian middle school and high school. It is familiar to me. This last May, Jeff bought me a parallel NIV/The Message. I love it so much. I wanted to carry it everywhere with me for at least two weeks after I received it.

There is no way around it, God’s Word is special to me. I love it. I love it because I love Him and I believe I love Him more because of His Word. I’m beyond grateful to have access to Scripture, to read it, and to share it with others. When I open my Bible I almost always feel a sense of excitement, even when I’m just doing it as part of my job. I sometimes open just to check that a passage is stated correctly but that doesn’t make a difference. I simply love the possibility of what can happen when God’s Word is open and how He will work through His inspired Word as it inspires me.

Friday, September 18, 2015

From Behavior to Beloved

Here is Day 5 of my 30-day Faith Challenge for work....

Sept 18
Write down your feelings about God's love for yourself. 

Romans 8:39
"No power in the sky above or in the earth below - indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord."

God thinks you're special. Does that make a difference in what you think about yourself or others? Write down your thoughts to reflect on later for a reminder of God's love.

Keller has a Jesus Loves Me book given to him by his godparents. This book not only plays the song when you push the button but features illustrations of children playing and eating with Jesus faint in the background looking over the children and participating in their activities. 

I love these images. I always point out Jesus to Keller as we read the book (and he pushes the music button over and over and over….). I say, “Jesus loves Keller. See, Jesus loves His children. Jesus loves Keller.”

As children I think it’s easier to believe the foundational truths of Jesus made me and He loves me. There isn’t really a doubt until the hard things of life come our way to cause questions. 

For me, that time came in the transition from sixth grade into seventh grade. That was a hard year for me. That’s when things like shame and feeling put down over my choices—whether good or bad—became the main thing. Through Jr High and High School I was constantly judged and questioned for every little thing I did or liked. What you like that Babysitter’s Club book? Don’t you know it has a storyline about divorced parents in it? It’s bad to read. Or a better interpretation: You are bad for reading it and even liking that. Over time these feelings seeped into how I believed God felt about me.

When my parents separated during my junior year of high school, I used to read Psalms for hours and hours in my room. I cried out to God for help and that book in the Bible gave me words filled with emotion when I had none to offer. Yet, I was told I “wasn’t having enough faith” by youth leaders during that tumultuous time in my life. I was so confused. I’m pretty sure that if I had shared about my Psalm reading, it would have been doubted and questioned and I would have been asked to prove it. 

And so, during that time in my life, behavior and morals became the main thing and I began to believe that was the main thing God cared about too. Jesus loves me? Well, I prove my love by what I do for Him. He gave His life for me so I am supposed to give everything for Him, even to the point of risking my own health and well-being. I was also told what that should look like in my life, dictated by the leaders in my faith community. I operated this way a lot through college as well. 

Now, I got by living this way for a while but then I had children of my own. Taking it a step further, I got a job writing for children. 

Upon being hired, I was ready to roll up my sleeves and teach the basics. I had learned how to help others be good followers of God by that time. There was memorization of Scripture to teach and morals like the Ten Commandments to help them learn. 

As I began my writing job, I discovered this would not work. In fact it was the exact opposite of the foundation of my curriculum. I was tasked with reading a couple books to get an idea of this new philosophy of leading children to a place where they could encounter God—not teaching facts and information that would make them good little children in society.

I also discovered this was in the power of the Holy Spirit, not my power. In meetings I was forced to look at Scripture according to what God is doing, not what I was supposed to take away and do. This….this changed my life forever. Have you ever looked at a passage of Scripture just to see what God is doing and what it says about Him? I sure hadn’t and I found a bunch of stuff in the Bible I had never, ever seen before. 

We began with Old Testament passages. It was a rough started because I began on the Genesis 3. Yeah…try teaching about sin and the curse to 6 year olds. But as I found my groove, more emerged. For example, let’s look at Jacob. Jacob means “deceiver” and deceive he did. He worked such a number on his family that he was forced to run away for fear that his own brother would kill him. After running for a bit, he finally stopped to rest. (This account is found in Genesis 28:10–22, by the way, if you want to read it.) 

Until this point Jacob had done all the wrong things. Yet, God came to Him. (Via a ladder extending from the sky—what?!) He assured Jacob of His presence with these words: “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” This is all God. All God! And Jacob knew it. See his response in verse 16: “Surely, the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” Yeah, man, I can relate.

Now, we can argue that Jacob was in the lineage of Abraham (someone else God came to and made a promise to even though he was a pagan worshipper prior to Genesis 12) and that is why Jacob received special treatment. But, aren’t we His children? Haven’t we been given promises by God that He will be with us (Matthew 28:20)? Haven’t we been “grafted in” to the promises given to Abraham’s family (Romans 11:11–24)? If so, how could I believe that what I do makes a difference in how God treats me, in how He loves me and what He thinks of me?

This is possibly where it all started for me, at least that’s one point I remember well. (Around that time I also read some pointed thoughts about my Identity via Chapter 4 in Spiritual Parenting by Michelle Anthony.)

After getting through Jacob and then Joseph’s part in the Bible, I jumped into New Testament passages for lessons. I wrote a little about my experience with the Gospels in a post called “God Sees” found here. This is where I began to see Jesus—God in human form—and His love in tangible form. Look at how He treats those around Him—including women and children. There is nothing and no One like Him.

Slowly I began to believe that God felt that way about me. In times when I had nothing to offer Him or had disobeyed, He was still there. He was comforting me, loving me just for being me. Just as I was.

I spent two and a half years writing curriculum and wrestling with these concepts. I was committed to helping young minds grasp these concepts too, not just during those elementary years but for lifelong faith. So that when shame hit them in middle school and beyond, this was there identity: Beloved of God. Always and forever the Beloved of God.

Along the line, God changed me and showed me the same things.

When the project ended, I was a different person. Toward the end of creating the lessons, our team didn’t know if the project would end or morph, but one day, I got a call from HR. Just before the phone rang, I got a text from a coworker and friend saying, “I’m in a meeting. It’s not good.” And I knew. I knew that particular season of writing and wrestling was over. 

As soon as I got off the phone with HR, I opened my computer and sent a message to those people who had been praying and grappling alongside me as I wrote lessons. Here’s a portion of the e-mail I wrote on that day in 2011:

I am grateful for my time at Cook because I believe it served as a strong stepping stone in my journey. I had wanted to work for Cook for almost 10 years, and that was accomplished. I made a ton of great friends there and found a love for all things related to spiritual formation. Also, I got to spend a LOT of time reading and studying the Bible. I learned incredible things about who God is because of that, things I never knew about Him before and how much He loves me. I AM His beloved. I am seen.

I was thinking last week about how I worked on this project with the leaders, kids, churches, and families in mind. But I wonder if God didn't create the project just to shape and grow me. Would He do something like that? Move an entire ministry to fund a project just for my spiritual growth or just the members of my team? I don't know for sure. However, I think it is possible. I will not take that for granted.

My pastor’s wife responded:

Yes, dear Becca, your God would move an entire ministry to fund a project just for you. He loves you that much!

And I believed her.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


--> I'm now on Day 4 of my Faith Challenge for work. If you're reading along, thanks for doing so!

Sept 17

Make a list of things you would like to change
Ecclesiastes 4:9 "Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed."
Write down some things that you would like to change and who you can turn to for help and support to make those changes happen.

Change is hard. Making a list of things I want to change is harder.

I also know it’s not healthy for me to make a list of things to change. I go a bit crazy with lists because I have to DO ALL THE THINGS in order to be successful. Leave off one thing or don’t complete something and I’m losing sleep over my “failure.” As a result, unless I’m making one for the grocery or something for work, I don’t really do them anymore.

But I get the point of this prompt. It’s good to make things tangible. A little like what I wrote yesterday about finally verbalizing my loneliness and how that brought about change.

Instead of making a list that’s something like 1–10, I’m going to talk about a couple key things that I’d like to change.

First, my physical health. I was an athlete in high school and college, and while I’ve never loved things like running, I always appreciate how good it makes me feel afterward. When I exercise, I’m more likely to choose healthy food as well because why undo all the hard work with a cheeseburger or a couple of donuts? Jeff and I used to work out together too but my first pregnancy came pretty quick after getting married and I haven’t been able to find a groove since…almost 12 years later. (sigh)

I’ve tried some things over the years: pilates on my living room floor, working out at 24 Hour Fitness (when we got a great discount through Jeff’s job at CCU), and working out while at work. Inevitably, just as I got a good thing going, our scheduled changed due to seminary classes or I had another baby and so on.

Earlier this year, I had to get a mammogram for a lump on my chest. This is not the first time this has happened to me. In fact, I’ve had several other (benign) lumps removed from my chest. But this time was a little more scary. I’m not 20 years old this time, like I was when the first lump was removed. I hadn’t been exercising or eating great so I was very afraid something was wrong. (All tests came back okay, by the way.) Then a couple months later, we went on our first family vacation and I did a ton of walking (up Seattle hills) and hiking. Felt the best I have in years so I’ve been continuing walking regularly at work or on weekends. I fight for this time more now. I also have been adjusting some of my eating habits. There is more room to grow in these areas but this is a good start for me.

One other thing re: this area is that the idea of holistic health is fairly new to me. Most of my life, I’ve put emphasis on my spiritual health and believed that is what God cared about most. However, I see how God gave us every area of our life to steward—emotional (God gave us emotions for a reason and I plan to use them), sexual (it’s about way more than purity talks before marriage and avoiding affairs afterward…there is plenty of outrage AND intelligent analysis going around about this in faith circles right now), and of course, physical health (my body is a gift from God, not just something we will cast aside when Jesus returns). I want to care for my body. It matters to God. It’s part of who I am.

Secondly, I am working on compassion. I recently finished Brené Brown’s book on rising from failure titled Rising Strong. In the sixth chapter, she talked about an encounter she had with a rude woman at an event. She shared this experience in a counseling session and received this question from the counselor: What if people are doing the best they can? She was appalled by this thought because people make their own choices and there are consequences, right? I get Brene’s response. I am SO black and white. My motto might as well be “You break the rules, you pay.” But Brené’s words made me think. She polled people around her and eventually came to the conclusion that we can’t know everything about every person’s circumstance, and it’s best to give them the benefit of the doubt and offer compassion.

I am sure my propensity to judgment is based on my personality and also my growing up in fundamentalism. Where, as I mentioned in my post on Monday, God is ready to smite thee for one misstep. Plus, I believe that I am SO hard on myself that I find it hard to give others a break when I’m not doing the same for myself. I believe there is no excuse for my mistakes, therefore, same to you. No excuse.

But I decided to be more conscious about compassion and some of what was shared in Rising Strong. Kaelyn joined a new sports team recently and so I was thrust into being around a new group of parents. Ugh, this produces such anxiety in me because I think that right from the first introduction they are judging if I’m a good mom. So, I am also prone to judge them right away. My armor on first so they can’t hurt me, right? Then the parents began talking amongst themselves about some of the other children and families on the team. So….this isn’t helping at all because I’m sure that as I walk away from them, they’ll be talking about me. Plus, this particular group of parents has been together for years and I’m the outsider. However….I decided to say they are doing the best they can to myself and entered into some conversations to ask questions about this new team of kids and find out where people work, how long their child has been on the team, etc.

The parents asked me a little too. Before I knew it, a dad got up to help the coach with a drill and he called Kaelyn by name. I thought that was a pretty nice thing to do to memorize her name right away. Then, I also noticed the sideline was filled with both moms and dads. Not something you see every day, right? By the end of the first practice, Kaelyn had an invitation to a birthday party. How sweet of her to be included. These parents care, I thought. I could feel my heart changing toward compassion.

As I mentioned, change is hard. We all know that. I think the key is to stay aware. If XYZ is hard, then that’s when I ask God to help. Jeff once said to me many years ago to invite God into those things—into all things in my life. That is true discipleship; that is following Jesus in all things. It’s also how real change occurs. I have to ask the Holy Spirit to give me His gift of compassion. Can’t do that on my own. If it were all up to me all the time, it would be ARMOR ON so I can’t get hurt. Change—and the ability to do it—is part of what God gifts to us in salvation. We work out our salvation over time with His help (Philippians 2:12).

He’s also the One who told me no more lists because He knows that’s not good for me. So I listened.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Here is Day 3 of reflections for my Faith Challenge at work.....

Sept 16

Think of family or friends to have be a part of this journey with you.
Genesis 2:18 "Then the LORD God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.'

Think of a few family members or friends that help and care for you. Ask them to be a part of this journey with you. Ask them to hold you accountable and encourage you along the way.

A few years ago, I was so, so lonely. I was a young mom but unable to join mothers groups or do playdates at the park due to working fulltime. Playdates at the park at 10am was the kind of mom I thought I would be and it was hard navigating the young years with a strong-willed toddler without any other moms doing the same around me. This is not to say that I didn’t have great people in my life. At the time I had wonderful coworkers while working at a nonprofit. We handled difficult phone calls and letters and so everyone in our dept was hired because they had skills in discernment and empathy. I received daily encouragement and prayer from them. But something was still missing.

I knew this when I was cleaning out my library one day and discovered three copies of the book The Friendships of Women. Uh, hello. Yeah, when I collect books on the same theme (or even the same book in this case!), there is clearly something lurking beneath the bookshelves. Not long after that, I remember running into a woman from church named Barb and in the course of our conversation, saying to her, “I’m just so lonely.” She replied that she would be my friend if I need and gave me a big hug. She and I couldn’t have been more opposite in life stage, she being a single in middle age and me a young mom. But I was so grateful for the hug and it was a relief to verbalize that feeling.

I began praying and praying and praying for deep friendships. For people to do life with me. I longed for people to really know me enough to laugh and cry and understand why I might be upset from everything including losing a coupon for Target to Jeff’s loooong ordination process that took us years to walk through.

God answered these prayers. He really did. I look back and see the handful of my people God sent in that time since declaring my loneliness aloud. They joined my journey at different times. They know me. All I have to do is text and they come running (or texting back). While I was in Kansas for a year, God gave me a huge gift in my friend Jessica. I did some of those playdates and we shared meals together with our families on pretty much a weekly basis. Okay, you bring the meat this week; I’ll bring the beer. Out of this or that before we grill? We’ll go get those things together. Load the kids in the minivan. Also, have you seen the newest product at Trader Joe’s?

Even though I’ve been back in CO for three years, Jess and I still talk on almost a weekly basis and text several times a week. If I’m cracking up over a text, it’s usually her. She is also fantastically indignant on my behalf over mostly everything. She has fought for me when I was attacked on Facebook and she sends the best articles. She lets me rail about authors and books and joins sometimes too. Last week one of her texts began with these words: “Feminist win of the day!” and then she proceeded with an awesome story about telling off a misogynistic plumber. You go, sister! All the emoticons coming your way.

Another person I’m likely to text regularly is Christy. Christy is my fashion consultant who took me shopping when I was going through my Wear I Am crisis last year. She helped me find clothing that say ME and she even created a personal color pallet based on my fashion board on Pinterest. Christy attends our church and lives in our neighborhood, which is fun. She brings me snacks in the form of Pringles, texts me when she’s on her way to Target midweek in case I need anything, and encourages me in my job. Her gifts in leadership and creativity are off the charts and I am blessed by her regular presence in my life.

There are others: Rebekah patiently listens to my journey of church planting and banters with me about who is winning in MasterChef. Jenna regularly texts just: “How are you?” and watched Keller for us last spring. Vicki helps me watch out for my kids too. She knows my little ones inside and out (having taught my oldest child in those strong-willed years) and encourages me as a mom. I’m blessed once again with wonderful, understanding coworkers too. I already know these people will be with me on this Faith Challenge journey because they are there in my life.

I believe there was something important about verbalizing my loneliness that day to Barb. God heard me. Barb and I didn’t become best friends but I see her from time to time. She still offers me hugs when I do.

I also got rid of all my copies of The Friendships of Women.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

In, Up, Out

This is Day 2 of my Faith Challenge at work...


Sept 15
Look In, Up, and Out
1. Look in to prepare your heart
2. Look up to God for strength and guidance
3. Look out with the help of others and you can achieve more

1. Look in. I think I’m actually pretty good about looking in my heart to prepare. This is due to my stepping into Anglicanism almost a decade ago. This expression of the church helps us with preparation by walking us through the seasons of the church and things like prayer as a community, confession, and receiving Eucharist on a weekly basis. It has instilled a rhythm of preparation. This is not to say that my heart isn’t hard on a daily, weekly, or seasonal basis. It’s just that the liturgy walks us through worship with our whole life and whole body, whether we are ready for God or not. And we do it together as a community. It’s not only a preparation for myself.

2. Look up. The concept of looking up is a bit hard because I usually picture God with me, beside me. But I get the idea is a posture of humility before a great, powerful, and awesome God. It’s a little like kneeling in prayer. It’s an expression of worship and reverence. I admit I find myself looking to the sky when I’m frustrated with God when He and I are “having words” (that’s usually me having words while He patiently listens). I actually wonder if I only look up in those times because I picture Him far away? But when all is well in my life, I picture Him there with me? Something to think about….perhaps I need to go back to Step 1…?

I will say this about the posture of looking “up” to God for guidance. It comes with the idea of the fear of God. For many years, the Fear of God was instilled into me like God is a monster. As in, I should be scared of Him because He could squash me like a bug and He’s ready to do so with just one misstep. Remember how God promised to bless the Israelites for obedience and cursing would come to them for disobedience? Well, just imagine that running in your head every time the “fear of God” is mentioned in the Bible? Not exactly a pretty picture. And why would we want to serve and worship this God anyway? Simply out of being scared of Him? Well, that invites worry, which is what God tell us not to do because He is with us. It’s a pretty vicious cycle…. Until….

As I was writing children’s curriculum a few years ago, I had to wrestle with this concept. You guys, sometimes I would wrestle with these concepts (especially some Old Testament ones) to the point of tears. (I cried for two weeks when I wrote a lesson on the Ten Commandments….just ask my husband.) This was one of those times. How in the world do you I teach the fear of the Lord to six year olds without inciting worry, the kind of worry that kept me up at night when I was that age?

Then, I thought about those moments when I see the power and wonder of God in full glory, the kind that brings me to my knees without being able to stop myself. I thought about crackling thunder during a rolling storm, and when I’m face to face with a lion at the zoo, who is only inches from my face with only glass as a separation. Those are the moments that make me shake with wonder and fear. Who is this God? Then I remembered this is the One by my side. He’s not the monster God waiting to strike me. He’s the One who promised protection. When I look to the sky to see a bright flash of lightning while driving home in a storm, that is my looking toward my God and remembering that strength—His strength—is a gift He promised me. I think I’ll try looking up a bit more this week, not just during the storms.

3. Look out. This is where I am able to do things with God’s strength and not only with Him but also with others—with my faith community. This is not just Jesus and other and you spells JOY. But I think this is relying on the gift of others—those we know are safe people—to help us see what God is doing in our lives and being able to share when we see Him working in others. This is me sitting with drinks at the bar (Bar Louie!) and laughing with a friend because we are remembering the joy that comes from life and then talking in hushed tones because we’re working through the crap of life together too. It’s knowing you are seen and heard and that happens by being with others. From those places—those safe places—we are able to go out and be a safe place for others as we live out who we are. Good friends who love God love us enough to say He’s made you this way and He wants nothing less for your life because He’s good. And we can bless them before they go out into the unsafe places again.

 Go in peace, friend. Know you are loved. Know you are seen.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Hands Full

I'm doing a Faith Challenge for work where they give me a prompt to reflect on each day for the next 30 days. I haven't written in so long that I thought I would share some of my journaling, as I feel I want, with you here. Here's Day 1...


Sept 14
Reflect on how you will use His strength and guidance.
Philippians 4:13
What are your goals for this challenge? How will you become the best version of you in the next 30 days?

In The Message, Philippians 4:11–14 says:
I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. I don’t mean that your help didn’t mean a lot to me—it did. It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles.

I’ve been having trouble with contentment. My Sunday morning confessional prayer over and over is: God, I’m sorry I don’t trust you. When I’m discontent, I think He isn’t for me or with me. I start to try to make things happen on my own. As Brené Brown says, you can’t script a conversation. I think it’s a similar concept—I can't script my life. I shouldn’t script my life with all of my plans. Sometimes things just happen or as OneRepublic says, “there’s bullsh-t that don’t work out.” There is plenty that hasn’t worked out, at least in my timing. If I was 12 or even 16 looking at my life today, I would think I had it all—great husband, wonderful (3!) kids, and my dream job as an editor. Plus, we have a church we love. Talk about “hands full” (see above in Philippians). That’s it. I’m hands full. To the brim. I can’t even hear myself think to remember this is good, that my life is good. I’m bogged by the expectations of being a good mom and wife and employee. Those things feel so BIG.

But for as much as those things are big, God is bigger. His expectations of me are lower than my own and His love and care is bigger. I sometimes wonder if I’m the one taking care of my family, then who is taking care of me? This is why I’m tired and weak. When I’m weak, strangely, I take over more. I try harder. I’ve been working on not saying these phrases to myself: “I’m trying” and “I should…” because I know those are the times I’m about to take over my own life and put a burden upon myself. A burden that weakens me and makes me feel less than I am. I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am (Philippians 4:13, The Message).

My goals for this challenge are simply to write my thoughts each day. That is actually a huge step for me. When I write, I’m relying on the Holy Spirit to shake things loose and work in me. When I write, I’m actually giving up control. I’m becoming more of me when I let the words flow. And I haven’t been in this place in a long time. My friend Denise once started her blog with “Where have I been all my life?” I don’t want that to be my question when I’m nearing my last decades. But to even make it that far with wholehearted decades behind me, I need to write. Writing reminds me of who I am, what I have, and what God is doing through His strength and timing, not my own.