Friday, January 29, 2010


Sometimes things look nothing like they should.

Today we were at the doctor for Aila's well visit, and they had dot-to-dot worksheets there so I grabbed one to do with Trevor. He needed a lot of help, and he pretty much held the pen and drew lines from number to number. I told him where to go next, and he drew the lines.
Unfortunately, he took a lot of liberties while drawing the lines from number to number, and this was the result:
"What is it?" Trevor asked me excitedly when we finished. The problem was that I didn't know what to tell him. I wasn't able to recognize it for what it was.

Determined to solve the mystery, I grabbed another dot-to-dot sheet on the way out of the doctor's office and when I got home, I did it myself (sans the help of a 4-year old boy). Here was the result:
As I stared at the paper, it hit me. Sometimes we take so many liberties with the commandments we've been given to love, that the end result doesn't look anything like love.
Love is:
calling to say you'll be late
showing her mercy
rooting for them
using gentle hands
speaking truth
saying, "I'm sorry"
picking up the pieces when their worlds shatter
praying over him
forgiving wrongs
taking the opportunity to say what needs to be heard
building up with words
spending time
motivated by another's good
serving him the bigger piece
speaking well to/about them
Love is not:
making him feel like his efforts aren't sufficient
berating them for spilling the juice
drudging up the past
sarcastic words
avoiding that difficult-to-love person
Believe me, I'm anything but an authority on this. This past week LOVE has been on my heart, and surprisingly enough, it has nothing to do with all the Valentine's Day stuff everywhere I go. I think it started when I saw someone who has in the past sapped me and taken, taken, taken without a thing to give. And when I saw her I thought, "I don't have it in me today" and headed in the opposite direction. I am extremely UNPROUD of that. Because yes, boundaries are appropriate, but LOVE is far more so. And as I spent the rest of the day (and this week) considering what love is, I've come to conclusion that love just doesn't do stuff like that.

I can take all kinds of liberties when it comes to the call to love. I can justify all kinds of UN-love. But I don't want my Heavenly Father looking down on my life, thinking to Himself, "That's supposed to be love? I don't see it." Oh, that my marriage would look like love. Especially to Justin. And that the way I treat my children would be recognizable as love. Especially to Trevor and Aila. And that what I have for others would be love--not something so far from it that it's unrecognizable.

I want to love well, but perhaps I have a long way to go.
Lord, thank You for Your example of love--greater love hath no man than the One who gave His life for His friends.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Kickoff Highlights

What a night! Let me first say that when I came down off the platform Friday night, I easily could've curled up on the front row and fallen asleep. Still jet-lagged and weary from preparing, I was exhausted...but elated.
Exhausted is why I haven't yet written an update. Elated is why I'm so excited to do so now.

First, I was in the prayer room when Jodi and several women from Cobb Vineyard came in to pray. And as they were praying (which in itself was pretty powerful), I heard the worship team practicing in the sanctuary. And they were practicing "The Stand." It was several months ago that I was at North Star and heard just the bridge of "The Stand," but the words were SO in line with what God was already putting on my heart that I prayed that if I had the chance to do a kickoff, I would love to close with that song as a call to commitment. So everything was in place to do so, and I knew the worship team would be able to close with that song. But it was amazing to be praying only minutes before the kickoff as that very song was the backdrop of our prayers. It just blew me away that this vision the Lord had given was really coming to pass--He made the way, and allowed us the joy of just getting to walk in it.

Another highlight was after I had spoken--I came down and sat in the front row by myself as "The Stand" began. Beautiful, powerful worship. I had my eyes closed, and then when those words came...

I'll stand with arms high and heart abandoned
in awe of the One who gave it all
I'll stand--my soul, Lord, to You surrendered
All I am is Yours

...I opened my eyes to see the shadows of so many hands raised. I will never forget that image in my mind. I wanted so badly to grab my camera that was at my feet and capture the moment, but then I realized, "Is there even a chance I would actually forget this?" So the camera remained at my feet, but the image is burned into my heart.

Then on Saturday my friend Teresa said that during one of the stories I shared, a girl near her began to weep. Then Teresa saw that at the end during the call to an "Arms Raised" life, the girl held up her hands, but her friend next to her came behind her and held up her hands for her. Awesome.

I really believe the Holy Spirit had his hand in that whole night. Such love was poured into every part of the kickoff--planning, set-up, worship, everything. As an added bonus, my mother-in-law Ali was down from Boston and was able to be there. Other friends were there as well, which meant so much.

There were also previews of the studies being offered, and I had goosebumps watching those. I am so excited to get going on this next season of studies and see what awaits!!!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Day Before You

Two years ago today, I was DONE. Like, stick-a-fork-in-me done.

I'd felt like I had been pregnant for about a year. But it was just that I was nearing the end of my second pregnancy in a year's time. 10 months earlier, we were blindsided with a missed miscarriage, and then happily shocked 8 weeks later to learn I was pregnant again. And I could not wait to hold THIS child in my arms.

I knew I was at least close, but at the end of this high-risk, too-many-concerns-and-scares pregnancy, "close" just didn't feel close enough. My due date was 15 days away, but I really, truly, honestly didn't feel like I could go that many more days before holding my baby girl. I spent that day praying and crying and worshipping, but I was READY for her. I told the Lord, "I honestly don't think I can wait any longer to have her here in my arms."
And the next day, she was.

I think of January 23rd as my "Day Before You" with Aila. I've got one for Justin (July 13, 2000--the day before I met him), and for Trevor (February 13, 2005--the day before I found out I was pregnant). With Aila, it was the day before her birth. Because we'd been on a long road. A long road.

Some of us are still in the "hope deferred" category, or to put it simply, we're in a WAIT. I was there on July 13, 2000, February 13, 2005, and January 23, 2008. But I was ONE DAY AWAY from being in the "longing fulfilled" category and I didn't even know it.

I love that about hope. We can be in the middle of a WAIT, but we never know when we might be walking through a "Day Before You,"--Just one day shy of our wait ending. We never know when God is primed and ready to blow things wide open and FULFILL. And always in ways that are "immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine" (Eph. 3:20).

Happy birthday tomorrow, my beautiful Aila Grace. You were absolutely, positively worth the wait!

(Last two photos by Jeff Hayes, Turlock, CA --

Friday, January 22, 2010

Hot Potato

Lord, let me ascribe to You the glory due Your name. You have so clearly shown me that Your glory in my hands is as a hot potato; If I quickly pass along all praise to You, I will be kept safe. But should I hold it too long... will burn me.

You are awesome, God, and You are too vast, too immeasurable, too majestic to share Your glory with another. Keep my hands from grabbing at Your glory.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Time to Ask For Prayer

Good morning from the West Coast!

Okay, I'm going to ask for some prayer. Cobb Vineyard Church's TWL Kickoff is in 6 days and even though I've really been preparing, I have SO MUCH these next few days and will have far less opportunity to go over my teaching--the days when I would most want to be able to prepare.

And so I'm calling out for a God Stretch.

Would you be so gracious to just stop right now and call out for my efforts to be sufficient--for Him to take what I've offered up and what I will offer up and allow His favor to rest on it all? I really have a heart for these women--most of whom I have never met--and I feel burdened to share this teaching with excellence. I just don't want to get in the way. I actually praise Him for this feeling of weakness, because I know it's a chance for HIS power to be shown perfect. And yet I don't like this feeling of wishing this week held more opportunities to prepare. So I'm calling out for prayer.

I'm in California for a few days, having an awesome and important time with loved ones. I know I'm right where I need to be in these days. But I also want to feel ready for the task at hand. This time of rest is legitimate, and this time has truly been blessed. But "next week" has become "this week" and I want to do what I've been given the opportunity to do in a way that brings glory to His name.

Thanks for your prayers. :)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Roddy's Story (Worth your time, I promise!)

Need some inspiration and encouragement today? Keep reading! This story SO stirred my heart yesterday, and I just HAD to share this with you.

Yesterday in church a guy named Roddy Chong came to play violin. I did the announcements in church so we were all in the green room ahead of the service, but I didn't have a chance to formally meet him. So we all went out for the start of the service, and Roddy opened the service with an AMAZING performance--that's when I realized this wasn't some amateur violinist.

Next, he shared a few minutes of his story. His mom made him start playing the violin at age 2, and now he sees how the Lord was using those tedious lessons and practice sessions to unfold His will in Roddy's life. a particularly low time, Roddy had prayed and asked the Lord to be his "agent," so to speak, to open doors for him to play since he didn't have an agent. It was 2am and Roddy was driving in his car when he heard a song on the radio--a beautiful voice and a violin. Roddy had never heard the song before, but was moved to tears as he sat and listened. And when the song was over, Roddy felt like the Lord was giving him a glimpse of things to come:


So he practiced that song and prepared just in case he ever had the opportunity to do so. Now TAKE A LOOK AT THIS (it gives me chills)--Praise God!

I talked to Roddy after the service and tried to communicate just how powerful his story had been to me. I don't even know why it hit me so much, but I felt the Holy Spirit stirring in my heart like crazy. And he told me that just 2 weeks ago, he wasn't even sure if he should still make the trip (he flew in from Chicago). But I KNOW the Lord ordered Roddy's steps. I was meant to hear his story yesterday, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

This is where Justin would jump in and quip, "Do you think you're supposed to audition to play violin for Celine Dion too?" Um, no. And I don't know why I was so moved by the story. But I was.

Hope it blesses you today!

Friday, January 8, 2010

I Didn't Want This!

I remember the first time I colored my hair. Not fondly, I might add.

My friend Megan used to color her hair all the time, and tried for months to convince me to color my hair. A few months later I caved and said she could color my hair, but I sneakily chose the hair dye that most closely matched my natural color. After all, I was born to be blonde!

So back at Megan's house, she applied her hair dye and then proceeded to help me with mine.
I SHOULD HAVE BEEN ALARMED when, after applying the color to my hair, Megan turned her head to the side and had a strange look on her face as she stared at my hair. But then she shrugged and went off to rinse out her own hair, so I assumed everything was okay.

It was NOT. So when Megan emerged from the bathroom after rinsing her hair, she took one look at my hair and her eyes got just way too big . The next thing I knew, she grabbed me, threw my head in a sink and began rinsing and apologizing...just rinsing and apologizing.

So it turns out that somebody had opened my BLONDE Loreal hair dye box at the store and swapped the dye out for some BURGUNDY-ISH Clairol hair dye. And we never even noticed until it was too late.

We drove way too quickly over to Walmart to try to get some sort of a refund, and I was so upset that when I got up to the customer service desk with my still-wet burgundy hair, all I could bring myself to do was point to my head and cry, "I didn't want this!" And the lady behind the counter said sympathetically, "Oh, Honey--I don't want that for you either!"

It took well over a year until my hair was somewhat normal again, including my hair being dyed a highly unnnatural looking platinum blonde color to strip the burgundy color, and then a brownish auburn color at one point to deal with the roots. It was just one really big catastrophe, to say the least!

I think of the times when my ignorance or negligence or even my conscious decisions have left me with a mess, sometimes with lingering consequences. And I've taken my big mess to the Lord and tearfully declared, "I didn't want this!" And you know what He always seems to say in response?

"My beloved, I didn't want that for you either."

So what DOES He have in mind for us? I'm sure you've read this a hundred times, but please try to read it with new eyes. This is His heart for you and for me:

"I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, January 7, 2010

All Set to Save the World

This morning Jack tried to squeeze behind the couch and got stuck, so Trevor ran into the kitchen, and grabbed a Target plastic bag to use as a super hero cape so he could go rescue Jack. He asked me to help him put it on, and after I tucked his arms into the handles I said, "Now you're all set to save the world!"

Oh, how my heart is compelled to gird that boy up with what he needs to go out into this world. I know he's not the one to save the world, but I am hungry to see him speak of the One who came to save the world, and to proclaim Him by the way he lives.

I wish I could be the perfect mom. I am so NOT. But I am desperate to give both Trevor and Aila everything they need (read: JESUS) in these years that I have them under my roof, that they may go out that door one day to spend the rest of their days bringing glory to our God and knowing Him intimately. And when they go out from here, I want to kiss them goodbye completely covered with the peace that I showed them Jesus and covered them with everything they'll need to make an impact on their corner of the world.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Slow Cooker

This morning I was putting some chicken in the crockpot for tonight's dinner. I love my crockpot because I can stick a bunch of ingredients in it, walk away, and--voila--dinner's ready several hours later. And the chicken is so tender, you could cut it with a plastic spoon.

The beauty of the crockpot is that you don't have to think about it all day, but for some reason, I did. Several times today.

I kept thinking about how that slow, multi-hour process yields something tender. I can certainly cook chicken in a lot less than 6 hours, but it's not nearly as tender.

I can be a pretty impatient person. Mostly with my own "work-in-progress" status. I don't like waiting, I don't like going through the process. I'd rather skip the steps, rush the deal, and fast-forward through it all. And at the end, I just want to be the woman God wants me to be. I just don't want to have to wait for it.

And yet I know that the long process, the waiting--these things make my heart tender. One of the longest waits of my life was for our second child. I was ready for Baby #2 when Trevor was about 6 months old. Well, 2 years, a miscarriage, and a high-risk pregnancy later, I held Aila Grace in my arms. The waiting process held everything from praying to crying to hoping, and required of me a level of trust and faith that didn't come naturally to me. But the waiting, the slow process, produced a tenderness in me that couldn't have happened any other way.

And it couldn't have been sped up with the same results.

Think back to the things that came to you without a wait. Now think of that "something" or those "somethings" that required you to hang out in a wait. And think of how the Lord was able to do a work in your heart through the process that just plain had to unfold over time in order to accomplish what He purposed to take place IN YOU. Have you ever noticed that when things come quickly or easily, it's easier to take them for granted? But when something costs you a long wait, it seems the outcome is a tender heart that cannot contain its gratitude. When Aila was born, I got to hold her for a moment, and then they took her for a few minutes to wrap her up and take care of her, and I just sat there saying outloud, "I am so grateful. I am so grateful." Words that flowed from a heart made tender while walking the long road of a "wait."

Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing (not lacking anything). James 1:4

So when you and I are hanging out in the smack dab middle of a slow-cooker kind of process, it won't work to try and crank up the heat to speed things up.

Because the results just aren't the same.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

On the Doorframes of Your House

This is my front door. You might completely miss what's above it, but it's been there for the nearly 7 years that we've lived in our house, so if you've been in our home, there was a blessing over you when you left...
And here is the close-up version. My January 2nd post, Her Legacy, was all about my friend Evelyn and how she (literally) wrote truth on the doorframes of her house.

I remember when we were house hunting, I was totally ready to buy this one house that was itty bitty and in an odd location--all because it had Scripture all over the place in there. We didn't buy that house, but I have always LOVED Deuteronomy 6:5-9 (see below). I was thinking about all of this today and it made me wonder what truths I've scattered around our home, so I went on a hunt and this is what I found.

The living room...

...the kitchen...

Trevor's room...

Aila's room...

...our bedroom.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

~ Deuteronomy 6:5-9~
Be glorified, Lord, as we set Your truth before our eyes in this house.

Why Isn't it Working?

Just in time for my New Year's resolution of continuing to drop the baby weight (especially since my "baby" is about to turn 2), I got Jillian Michaels' workout DVD "30 Day Shred." I brought it home and put it with my other DVDs and waited for the pounds to melt away and for my rock-hard abs and my buns of steel to emerge.

And yet nothing changed. "I spent eight bucks on that workout DVD. Why isn't it working?" I wondered.

Turns out you have to pull it off the shelf and USE IT in order to see results.

Sounds like a no-brainer, but there's something else that we tend to think will bring about a transformation just by having it in the house. We feel good having a Bible on the bookshelf for some reason, as though its truth will be able to penetrate our hearts as it collects dust.

So anyway, I finally took the DVD off the shelf and began my journey to having the perfect body (Okay, I'm laughing out loud right here). And the first time I did that video I gasped for breath and cried out to Justin, "Tell the children I love them!!!" Okay, I'm being dramatic. But it was a stretch for me, I will say. But it's becoming less of a stretch, more normal. And I'm seeing a transformation.

The same thing happened when I started to drag myself out of bed to get into the Word in the mornings. It was unpleasant at first to get up earlier and sacrifice that "warm under my covers" time in the morning that I so cherish. But in time it became normal. And then normal turned to NECESSARY. I can't NOT be in the Word now--I am too hungry for the collision between my heart and His truth.

And I'm seeing a transformation.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Her Legacy

13 years ago today, Heaven welcomed Evelyn, a woman who was all about making Kingdom dents in this world as she passed through. She suffered with Chronic Progressive Multiple Scelerosis for 7 years, but in the few months I knew her, her only "complaint" was that at times her eyesight wasn't sufficient enough to read her Bible.

Shortly before her death, I spent a lot of time chatting with her, and listened to her longing to leave a lasting legacy. But I think one of the things I'll remember most about Evelyn was her front door.

Her front door? Isn't that kind of an odd thing to remember about someone?

Well, with MS, Evelyn had good days and bad days. And by the time I met her, a good day was one where she felt strong enough to be removed from the hospital bed that had taken up residence in her bedroom, and taken out to the living room to sit in her wheel chair. And on one of her "good days," she was out in her living room and took out a sharpie and wrote a blessing right onto her front door. Her handwriting wasn't quite as lovely as it had once been, but the words she wrote were beautiful:

"You will go our in JOY and be led forth in PEACE.

The mountains and hills will burst into song before you,

and all the trees of the fields will clap their hands.

Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree,

and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.

This will be for the Lord's renown,

for an everlasting sign which will not be destroyed."

Isaiah 55:12-13

She wrote these words to be a covering and blessing over her husband, son and daughter every time they walked out the door. But her whole life was about praying over them, serving them, and loving them. What a legacy.

It made me think about the legacy I want to leave. Guess that will be my next post.