Sunday, March 27, 2011


What would you do with three hours all to yourself? (Cue the "Hallelujah Chorus!)

It hardly ever happens--but yesterday I had a block of time alone. I knew for weeks that I would have this alone time, and thought a lot about how to spend it. I wanted those three precious hours to be marked with purpose and intentionality.

Would I go home and clean?

Would I go somewhere and read?

Would I sit at a coffee shop and write?

Hmmm....all valid options. I was almost overwhelmed at all the possibilities--it really only mattered that I'd make the time count. I really hadn't decided what I would do even by the time this alone time rolled around. But once those three hours began, I set about to make every moment count.

I asked the LORD to order my steps. I asked Him to lead me every moment of those three hours.

I went to Barnes & Noble first, and prayed for one of those comfy chairs to become available. It never happened--probably because I wasn't going to be there long. I grabbed a coffee and a copy of "Crazy Love" and read the first two or three chapters while standing up. But then it was almost like an alarm went off in my head: Time to go.

Next, I headed to Target to pick up a few household items that needed restocking. Doing this during my "Me" Time meant I wouldn't have to drag my kiddos out with me later, earning me a little more "Chillin'-At-Home-With-Them" Time later. While I was there, I picked up a card for my husband and his favorite Frappuccino from the Starbucks in there. On to the next thing.

I pulled up at the soccer game my husband was coaching. I wrote on the card, and then put the card and coffee drink in his car to surprise him. After a few minutes of watching the game, there was that stirring again...Time to go.

I spent the rest of the time driving and praying and worshipping and singing my heart out to Him. It was the sweetest time, really. Just a time of declaring who God is, and being so in love with Him for it.

And then it was time to go pick up my babies. I scooped them up and gave them a million kisses, rejuvenated from a few hours of solitude.

So right now I should really be asleep (Hello, 1:09am), but I keep thinking about how intentional I was about those three hours. And when it came down to it, I spent that time completely mindful of and being about the business of the three things I SAY I love the most--my God, my husband, and my children. And so there was tremendous peace in how those three hours were spent--and I truly believe the Holy Spirit led me through those hours.

But what if I was so intentional about the other hours of my life? And what if I was so quick to say, "God, lead me in the path You have carved out for me. Direct me in the way I should go"? I do this--from time to time. What would it look like to be as desperate for His leading in my day to day life as I was for those three hours?

Andy Stanley said something one Sunday morning years ago that has stuck with me all this time: "What you do with your time really matters, because your time equals your life."

It's common for people to evaluate their finances, like what investments they're making and where their money is going. Why not take the same approach to time? How do we spend our days? It just makes me see the need to go over how I spend my time with a fine-tooth comb. Where am I spending? And--every bit as importantly--where am I wasting?

At the end of those three hours, I had answers for how I had spent that time. I want the same to be true at the end of my days and the end of my life. Because at the end of it all, every last one of my minutes will have been gone--spent in one way or another.

And I'll tell you right now, I want a darn good answer for how I spent them.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


I was cutting my son's hair yesterday when he suddenly jumped up--mid-haircut--to see how it looked.

His jaw dropped when he saw his hair in the mirror.

"It's all a mess, Mommy!" he exclaimed.

And it was. One side was short, the center was patchy, and the other side was long and sticking up. But in my defense, I wasn't done working yet.

Hmmm...familiar. Because I am very much in a "mid-haircut" kind of time in my life. And while I should simply remain still and allow God to finish what He started, instead I find myself jumping up from that place of stillness to stare at my current state. And what I see leaves me thinking, "Oh no, that isn't even kinda cute!"

I've found myself saying "Look at this mess!" to the One who isn't done working yet.

I suppose I'm in good company here. Because somewhere between God calling Moses to lead His people out of slavery and the fulfillment of that promise, things got plenty ugly.

There was a lot that happened in between the "burning bush" moment of Exodus 2 and the parting of the Red Sea in Exodus 14. In the middle was Exodus 5--a very "mid-haircut moment" in which Moses looked in full view at the circumstances--and it wasn't pretty. He even cried out to God in anger and confusion, "Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has brought trouble on these people. And You have not rescued Your people at all." He'd gone to bat for the Israelites but his intervention appeared to make things worse. He incited Pharaoh's anger against God's people, forcing them to work twice as hard with less material. And it didn't improve--Pharaoh's heart remained hard through countless plagues. None of this looked promising. Just looked like one big ol' mess!

But deliverance was coming. And it was soon clear that what Moses saw as a disaster was nowhere near the end of the story.

That means everything to me today. It means that I can sit peacefully, knowing that He who began a good work will be faithful to finish it. It means I don't have to look at my halfway-through circumstances in fear, because what might look like a mess now will one day be seen as a God-ordained, beautiful finished product.

He is the Author...Perfecter...Finisher of our faith.

"He has made all things beautiful in its time--no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."
Ecclesiastes 3:11

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


1. The fact that His kindness leads to repentance.
2. My husband's jokes and dry humor. I know the punchlines already, but the sparkle in his eyes as he tells them still cracks me up.
3. When my son says "We know You're our provider" during mealtime prayers. I want his life to be full of acknowledging the LORD.
4. My daughter's voice (which sounds like someone sucked in a bunch of helium. There's something chipmunk-y and tremendously sweet about it).
5. Hot cocoa with whipped cream and crushed candy canes sprinkled on top.
6. Any mention of California. Love me some Cali.
7. Quiet times by the Christmas tree, or outside early in the morning.
8. Affection. I grew up in a home where we'd often just stop as we were passing each other in the halls, hug each other, speak a word of love, and then keep going. When I moved to Boston several years ago, someone gave me a hug and it choked me up--because I realized I had not been hugged in over a month.
9. Oreos. Double-Stuff. Dipped in milk for 11 seconds to soften them juuuust enough. You can see I have this down to a science. Which is why I hardly ever buy Oreos.
10. Laughter. It feeds a very, very big part of me.
11. John Acuff's new book "Stuff Christians Like." Hi.lar.i.ous. I laughed outloud so many times, I lost count!
12. An out-of-the-blue word of blessing or encouragement. An unexpected "You came to mind today" and especially "I prayed for you."
13. Wearing sassy pink toenail polish.
14. Flip flops. I never really understood the "big whoop" about these things until I was pregnant and discovered their glorious comfort. I am often asked why I don't wear warmer shoes--and it's true--I wear flip flops about 350 days out of the year. Plus, they give me a chance to show off my sassy pink toenail polish!
15. When God speaks on the same thing repeatedly, but in different ways. That sermon that ties in with that in-passing comment someone said that ties in with that interview I heard on the way to work that all ties in with Scripture and the confirmation of peace from the Holy Spirit. Love it!
16. Bringing clarity to the Word.
17. Presenting the Word in a way that makes it stick.
18. Cooking just for fun, adding and tweaking to make the perfect recipe. You'll notice that baking did not make this list. How on earth can you simultaneously manage to burn AND undercook the same thing? Oh, but somehow I manage to!
19. Hearing "Mommy!!!!" when I pick my children up after I've been away from them. Oh, it's good stuff.
20. When my husband fixes something for free that we would've had to pay big bucks for someone else to fix.
21. Plush, green grass.
22. Long drives in the car--alone. Well, not entirely alone--They are some of my sweetest times of prayer and worship. When I was a single woman, I went out for a long drive almost every night. That was before gas was like 7 bucks a gallon! Every now and then I still get in a long prayer drive. Absolutely refreshes my soul.
23. A cleaned-out car. Yes, I love it...But the biggest reason this makes me smile is because I know it makes my husband happy.
24. Our small group. They have grown so dear to me and I genuinely light up inside when we're together.
25. Kelly, my "bestie." It is an indescribable blessing to know and be known. Today is actually our "Best Friend Day." We became friends this day 21 years ago. Such a commemoration is lost on some people but it is dear to us. She sent me a little necklace with the initials of my husband and two kids--and honestly, it is exactly what I would have chosen for myself. Amazing. Plus, the girl is flippin' hilarious!
26. Putting my hand on my children's heads. I love doing this. Right now my hand just kind of rests on their heads as they stand at my sides, but as they grown I won't be able to just rest my hands on their heads--I'll have to reach up to the tops of their heads!
27. Chocolate-covered almonds. Oh, I know I'm speaking to somebody!
28. Sunshine. It can be 20 degrees outside, but as long as the sun is shining, I'm a happy girl!
29. The fact that our God positions us for His glory, "for such a time as this."
30. Zumba!!!!
31. My siblings. Being away from them is tough, but it's just so easy to pick up where we left off when we are together! Truly, my home was a safe place with a lot of love and laughter. And the three of us appreciate that foundation in our current lives.
32. Having absolutely nothing to do and nowhere to go. Each of the four of us is a bit of a homebody. We spent most of our weekends at home simply resting together as a family. And it's fun to have the freedom to go and do, simply because we want to. An open day on the calendar makes me smile!!!
33. A full camera battery, room on my camera card, and capturing priceless moments in a picture!
34. Hymns. I grew up singing them and they are precious to me! The other day I heard "Christ the LORD is Risen Today" and thought of my Nana belting out this very song every Easter. I also have to laugh when I remember how my dad used to change the words while we sang in church, like singing "When we get home I'm going to have some of that leftover pizza" to the tune of "What a Friend We Have in Jesus."
35. Successfully sneaking healthy stuff into my kids' food and watching them gobble it up. Mwah-ha-ha-ha!
36. Making memories and creating traditions. I'm doing it while I can because I don't know how many more years I'll be able to get away with painting Ailey's fingernails green while she's asleep and telling her the Leprechauns did it. But I want them to delight in Family Movie Night and Christmas traditions and Family Prayer Time and celebrating Christian Birthdays (Trev's was yesterday)!
37. Simplicity. I am truly happiest with the basics. I do not crave complication, nor thrive on being busy. I bloom where stillness is cultivated and wilt where it's not.
38. Discovering something new in a passage of Scripture I've read a dozen times. Loving the living and active Word of God for how relevant it is to you and to me today, right now, in these very circumstances.
39. Fellowship. Yes, I am absolutely an introvert--Love me some alone time. But fellowship is just so tremendously important, and I love being with people who know and love God.
40. A good dance-able song. I wonder at what age will I no longer feel the need to shake what my mama gave me when I hear a good song? I have not yet reached that age, I can tell you that!
41. When my husband uses his sweet name for me.
42. Running. Ha! I'm soooo kidding...
43. Seeing people get onboard with having a consistent quiet time with God. Very unfortunately, I think having an intentional, very deliberate, scheduled time with God on a daily basis is lost on so many believers. But if we believe that there's something to be gained from meeting with God, then shouldn't we reason that there's something to be missed if we don't? I'm just a tad passionate about this one. ;)
44. Frizz-free hair. You'll really only get this one if you too look like Diana Ross at the slightest exposure to humidity.
45. Being a girl. I love being a girl! I love the treasures of femininity.
46. When He moves mountains.
47. Seeing those little-by-little measures of growth in regards to fear of rejection and people-pleasing. There are times and instances when I know that something would have leveled me in the past, but standing in God confidence keeps me just that--standing.
48. Being in a place of utter and total dependence on God. I say that with a bit of mixed emotion because being in those places often means we have come to the end of ourselves, our resources, our ability to handle the situation, and that's so UNcomfortable. But there is no place sweeter!
49. Winning the "Pocket Lottery." Nothing like pulling your jacket out of the closet on the first chilly fall morning and finding a twenty in there!
50. Standing facing the ocean and considering the vastness of my God. He made it all, and he made me, too.

Monday, March 21, 2011


A theme has been forming. It started a few weeks ago when I took this photo:
And then I ran across these photos of the bird nest on our porch last spring...
Then yesterday I was giving my daughter a shower, and although she's never done this before she tipped her head back, opened her mouth wide, and tried to drink the water.
All these images of heads tipped back, mouths open...coupled with the Holy Spirit bringing that verse to mind that says "Open wide your mouth and I will fill it."
I looked it up this morning. It's Psalm 81:10 and says
I am the LORD your God who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.
As I looked at it in the Hebrew, it translates like this:
I am Jehovah, your Elohim, who brought you out from the wilderness. Open up and make room and I will fulfill and accomplish.
But I'll be honest--I am too worn out and weary and broken emotionally, spiritually, and even physically to open my mouth and receive. He's calling me to do so--clearly He is. And I know that what He has called me to do, He will strengthen me to do. Good thing, too--because this girl has run out of herself. He has lovingly led me out of places of wilderness before, and I know He is mighty to do it again. I know it, even if I don't feel it right now. I want to "make room," that He may fulfill and accomplish and get every last bit of the glory. I just kind of don't even know what that looks like and I'll need Him to unveil that for me.
What will it look like for me to "make room?" I suppose it might start with me being emptied of myself.
And it might involve turning my focus from what is seen.
And I'm sure it will have something to do with some of that "against-all-hope" kind of faith and assurance.
And to be honest, it will probably only be possible if my Heavenly Father strengthens me to open my mouth.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Yesterday my daughter picked up this framed photo and was walking around looking at it. This was taken when Justin and I first started dating. I remember we'd taken the ferry over to Martha's Vineyard to have dinner that evening. Such a sweet memory! Those were the early days of the life we now share together.
After carrying this photo around for a few minutes, my daughter set it down onto my Bible that was sitting on the coffee table. "There you go!" she proclaimed.

I just took in the sight for a moment. I was struck by the image of me with my eventual husband resting upon the Word of God.

What a perfect foundation.

Because I think as believers, our common ground as husband and wife can become reduced to "Oh, yeah, we're both Christians." And while that's a really important place to start, what if there was more than that? What if the foundation of our marriage was not merely the fact that we both know Christ as our Savior--but that His very words from Proverbs to Song of Solomon to Ephesians were the basis for how we interact and speak and love?

I honestly can't think of a firmer foundation on which to base this whole "'Til death do us part" thing.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I am a faster (Is that even a word when used in this context?).

In fact, I am one of many "fasters." My dear friends in my small group have committed to fast and pray together on Wednesdays for the next 12 weeks.

I must say, I am awesome at fasting. For the first hour of the day, anyway. That first waking hour seems to just fly by with ease. I'm like those disciples who had no problem staying awake for like the first 10 minutes when Jesus asked them to keep watch and pray.

But by about 7:05am I'm craving...and by the time we all break our fast when we arrive at small group on Wednesday nights, I am *ready* to do so. I make the expected pleasantries on my way in the door, but what I want to say is "For the love of Julio, get out of my way--you're blocking the chocolate!!!" My spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak.

And it's not just chocolate I can't have. What I've opted to do--the Daniel Fast--is like going vegan for a day, only even more restrictive. I did make a list entitled "You CAN have..." and tacked it to the fridge. I won't lie, there's really not much. The list would've fit on a post-it.

I'm whining a bit here, but only for the purpose of levity. I know that in fasting, we're called to go on living without ho-humming our way through it. This is just my honest admission that it's been tough! But my struggle is small compared to 40 days in the desert or the excruciating hours on the cross on my behalf. And as His follower, it's actually been an extraordinarily appropriate thing to deny myself, to refuse those whims to satisfy my flesh.

We're just not meant to cave to every craving.

One of the guys in small group said he'd heard this saying: "Fasting without focusing on God is just dieting." True words.

So it's not just about not getting to eat chocolate. Or meat or dairy or eggs or sweeteners of any kind. It's about feasting on the Word of God, refocusing my mind in prayer, and identifying with Christ in His sacrificial sufferings with every pang of hunger. Because 12 hours of brown rice couscous instead of chicken tortilla soup deliciousness 1 day a week is nothing compared to what my Jesus laid down. His body was not merely tamed by a few disciplined hours here and there. It was instead broken and pierced and wounded. Because had He not done so, there would be no hope for me. Should I dare count it too high a price to limit what I allow myself for a few hours each week?

I have never participated in Lent, but it's been on my heart to do so this year. I ultimately decided to stay off Facebook during this Lenten season. Again, it's about focus. I don't for one moment think Facebook is the root of all evil--I have seen God glorified through Facebook time and again. But in this season I am sensing a need to refocus on the LORD--especially as we approach Holy Week. It's so easy to get all the way to Easter Sunday morning without thinking about what Jesus did on our behalf, and I want it be my consuming focus rather than a fleeting thought sometime in the month of April. My family is also worthy of my undivided focus as well--another benefit of eliminating distractions right now.

Sure, I'll miss reading the fun status updates and seeing the photos for a few weeks. But again, what can be gained from a renewed focus on the things of God far outweighs it all.

Never in my life have I been so inundated with the words "fast and pray" as in recent months. It seemed so clear He was calling me--and several of us--to deny ourselves and fix our gaze upon Him in this way.

I can't wait to see how He reveals His love, His purpose, Himself in these coming weeks.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


The older of my two children can be trusted to stay in the house. I don't really have to worry about him walking out the front door and going a-wandering. He's old enough to get the fact that the safest place for him to be is within our four walls.

The younger of my two children can't be trusted to stay in the house. If we didn't approach the situation with the diligence we do, I'm sure she'd be halfway to California before we even noticed she was missing. This is where deadbolts and doorknob covers come in! She hasn't yet learned that it's unsafe for her to be outside these four walls.

I think the same has been true in my own walk with God. In my early years as a believer, I heard sermons about it being worth it to remain within His will, but I think a part of me was still skeptical. I mean, was it really so detrimental to venture outside and do my own thing in certain areas? I think it's simply been time--experience--maturing and growing up in Him--that has served to convince me more and more that truly the only place I even WANT to be is within the safety of His will.

But I still have a way to go.

I'm like 95% convinced, anyway. But that other 5% is the part of me that goes jiggling the door handle, trying to get out of the one place where I'm safe. But just as my children grow in understanding of where they are safe, I want nothing more than to grow in that same understanding.

The only safe place to be is within the freedom of His will. I know that with my head, and I want that truth to penetrate every place in my heart. Maybe in time I'll be 100% convinced--and hopefully long before I'm soaking my dentures and trying not to break a hip!

LORD, please let me grow in the grace and knowledge of You. Remind me of how worth it I've found it to walk in your ways, and how dissatisfying it was to pursue any other path.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Several years ago my Grandma was injured when she leaned against the railing on her back porch, and it snapped like a twig, sending her several feet down to the ground. The railing had rotted through and gave way the moment she put her weight on it.

She had leaned on something that simply couldn't hold her up.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5). We've read it a million times, but have we considered why we aren't supposed to lean on our own understanding?

Because it's flimsy. And it just plain cannot hold us up.

And yet we do it, don't we? We operate on assumptions we make based on what we feel, and we make decisions based on what we perceive our circumstances to be. But our small, limited understanding of things is flimsy.

"I have nothing on my calendar and see nothing on the horizon."

"There's no way these bills are going to get paid."

"I'm over this relationship--it's never going to change. I'm done."

It's tough to lean on something other than what we can see. It's not easy to operate on faith, but the One in whom we have faith is a strong tower, a firm foundation. "Do not lean on your own understanding." It just can't hold you up.

But He will.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


What if you believed that you just might be in your own "right here, right now" for a purpose? What if you considered the same question Mordecai asked a frightened Esther:

"And who knows if you have come to this position for such a time as this?"

What if you are married to your spouse for such a time as this--for these very moments within the eternal Kingdom of God? And what if right now in your marriage matters tremendously?

What if you were positioned to bear and raise up those very children (who are probably smudging up your windows and hiding crackers in the DVD player as you read this!)--the little ones who have the sweetest kisses and want an extra bedtime story and look to you to teach them what is true--What if your "right now" investments in them are really investments in the Kingdom?

Think through your current circumstances. How did you end up where you are? How did you end up where you are living--your state, your town, your street, your house? What if you have been planted there for such a time as this--for these very days you're living right now?

What about the way you earn your paycheck? What if you are in the position you are in right now because God has used you there, is using you there, and will continue to use you there? And what if these were the very moments in time you were meant to work there?

Think about the fact that you have been born in a time of crazy technological advances. Facebook, blogs, smart phones--what if you were positioned here on earth in this moment in time to use those things for His glory?

Going back to Esther--a woman who won her royal position strictly on the fact that God granted her FAVOR. What a position to hold! But it was not just about her. She was positioned to speak on behalf of the Jews whose annihilation had been ordered by Haman. She was put in that place--at that time--for far more than just to park her tush on a throne and smile pretty.

If God has granted you position--of any kind--husband, wife, parent, neighbor, leader, friend--then our ON-PURPOSE GOD has your good and His glory in mind. And it's about things that are way more far-reaching and long-lasting than you and I could ever imagine.

What if we are where we are for such a time as this?

...And what if we lived like it?