Growing Pains

“It’s the heaviness in the air from the warm front” she explained. Yet it’s awfully hard to comprehend; a spring storm bringing such a layer of doubt over my quaking heart. And the weight suffocating caused me to call upon her for prayer. “I just want to fix it Mama. Want the depression to be gone.”

Knowing full well that His grace is sufficient for me and His power is made perfect in my weakness but believing it is another mindset entirely. How do you believe when the weight of all that is wrong in the world crushes your spirit like a landslide and you. can’t. fix. It?

“Yes, I will pray.” And her assuring words bring some comfort but her unusual prediction of a storm bearing the weight of the world to come sweeping right over our grace filled home leaves an impression that clings to the back of my mind.

“Grumpy.” That’s the description of my mood and mindset from the concerned husband. And I don’t even argue. But that the heaviness that suppresses my soul is a correlation of a spring storm and knowledge of all the intense pain that goes on among us people is more than mildly disconcerting.

Because I. can’t. fix. it.

And I lay, face down on the floor with baby girl softly cooing to herself unaware of my inward turmoil of soul and I search for something I must be doing wrong – something separating me from my God because where is He? And faith is not an emotion, not a high, but I need something to cling to, to believe in. And the first thing Satan attacks is your identity.

I am founded, grounded, rooted, and inscribed on the palm of Jesus Christ and that truth requires something far beyond emotion to stabilize a shaking heart and a quivering lip. And God I really just need to hear You. Speak.

But what do you do when God is silent? I know His presence because I know the lack of it and that… is a terrifying place. He is here with me.

Get up. Move on. Still shaken but by what I don’t know. But this I do know and have full confidence in: He will never allow pain without bringing growth.

Growing pains. You can’t see them but they hurt so bad like a seizure inside a muscle tearing, sewing, ripping, healing, growing. Bigger, stronger, and suddenly there is more to you than there ever was before and people notice.

They notice how you change and they see the gait with which you carry yourself and do you dwell on the memory of the muscle spasms and rubbing and rubbing till hands are raw or do you walk taller, confident that you are somehow more than you were before the pain?

And that spring storm it comes and with it angry torrents of rain ridding the air of the awful pressure, dissipating clouds to bring forth the light!

His light shines in the darkness and the night is like day to Him.

And with it the dawning realization that there is nothing you can do but hit your knees and kick the lie that you must be doing something wrong, that maybe there would be no guilt if you did more, were more.

And behind every awful self condemnation is the tell-tale shadow of a cleverly orchestrated scheme to rob you of your God-given security and the devil himself is behind your misery.

Well that changes things doesn’t it? When your battle isn’t with the weather or your own faith. The battle is against the devil who claps his hands in giddy delight at your face down on the floor…until he realizes to whom and with whom you are conversing and it’s his soul that will feel the chill when the trumpet of your God sounds. And the declaration “I will rescue my child” overthrows and overpowers and overcomes satan’s plan for your despair.

Hit your knees, beloved, but don’t you stay there. Because “there is a God in heaven” (Dan. 2:27); and there is nothing weak about our God. Rise and count your joys – they are numerous.

An Honest Lie

You know what it is. It’s that burning hot feeling spreading fast over your chest and your heart beats. Breathe quick and it dances around you – taunting, whipping, stabbing fear. F.E.A.R. You want it gone, oh, you plead with it to go; but as it leaves you think “maybe”. Maybe there is something there? Does fear have something that I need? So wait, don’t go… not just yet.
And it looks over it’s shoulder – smile wicked with empty promises of security and justice. The things that demon promises makes your heart beat. “Not this time” you think. Distract yourself. But he will wait. Shrouded in a sickening cloud he will wait for you to ask him: “Is there? Is there something that I need to know, something hidden that God hasn’t made known? Is there a sin to be revealed, a twisted act unknown?”

“Has God really said that you will die if you eat of this fruit? Surely you will not die.”

So just this once. Allow him the pleasure of usurping your stronghold built up by months of prayer. No, it won’t kill you. It will torment you. Do you know the meaning of torment? Freezing life paralyzed in a world of your imagination simulated by none other than yours truly. He is an expert marksmen, Fear. His jagged daggers slide skillfully into the part that hurts most pleasing. Because he just might have something you need. Maybe a better body? Maybe knowledge of betrayal: he doesn’t love you – did he ever really? Your daughter – will she be ruined under your care? Your failures cut bone deep. Fear suffocates and all the while fills you with an aversion to oxygen. You poor, starved creature biting the hand that heals in the name of self-preservation. You. Are. Secure. Secure and dead to peace. “After all”  he lies, “what is truth except a false sense of security and now you have both”. Gifts from Fear.

See, what Fear didn’t tell you about truth and security is that they aren’t attainable without Trust.
And you can’t survive on vaporous fumes of old truths. Security comes not with a return policy but with an eviction notice. Evicted from your own peace-starved soul you will stand to hold your shallow evidence, your knowledge so longed for. And taking his departure, Fear bows out with one last, honest lie; “Isn’t this what you wanted”?

So, God-daughter, Fear does not give you truth, he incinerates your hope and leaves not the slightest inclination of the peace you sought. Bright and bold the world will be and vague, your God given ownership of dignity. What did that man say? “All is vanity and grasping for the wind.” And the things hidden by God are for God. What is made known to man is made known to all. If you play God, you inevitably lose. Your demons come in the form of whatever it is you most fear. You white-knuckle love and twist it for fear of losing it and that demon will strip it from you lightening fast.

We are called to trust Him. To lay back in the down of His goodness and mercy as He guards us. He is a Lion, our God. A force to be reckoned with and He does not take lightly the tempting of His children. But you have caged Him. God can not rescue she who will not be rescued.

Fear is natural. God created natural. God controls natural. What if God held your loves and your fears as He holds you? What if when that demon comes with his appealing message of infinite security you step aside and allow him to reckon with your God. A gazelle laughs at a lion caged but an uncaged King will shred a gazelle before grinding its bones to dust. Allow God’s power to be un-caged in your life and demons will become dust before Him.


The Art of Mentoring

In a sudden moment the words that came from her mouth dealt me a speechless hand.

“What do I do now that my chance to be her friend, to maybe have saved her, is gone? How do I find closure?”  And a hurting heart formed tears of guilt much to heavy for a fourteen year old girl that slid down her cheeks.

And I realized all too late that perfectly planned lessons and well-written books are not preparation enough for the art of being a mentor. Sitting cross-legged in front of me three beautiful, young junior high girls all waited for me to answer the dazing question regarding the suicide of a school acquaintance.

This was not in my plan. But it was in God’s. So thoroughly engrained in my head were d-group meetings and Bible reading and sharing prayer requests – what do you do when a prayer request is a life altering moment? When something buried deep within the soul of God’s daughter brings her pain and she brings it to me, it’s humbling. And the fear of inadequacy threatens to rise in my heart. While I am on the verge of yielding to the temptation of offering some scripted answer about how bad things happen and that’s the way of the world, God shoves that tempting answer down back to Sheol where it came from and says to me – “YOU take care of her”.

And my heart gets involved. Attaches to the hearts of these girls with strings of steel refusing to leave them at the mercy of a scripted answer.

I’d be lying if I said then and there God gave me words and I spoke truth to them. In all honesty I can’t remember what I told her. What I do remember is we prayed. We prayed.

Hands clasped because a cord of four strands is not easily broken, we begged God for healing. Entreated Him to some way somehow be glorified in this tragedy.  And carved the memory in our minds – forever etched so as to not forget the compassion of the Father. Pleaded that we would not become numb to pain but in strength would rise up through it. Grasping for some glimpse of hope that can not be obtained by earthly measures. We prayed.

Discipleship suffers under the expectation of perfection but it thrives under the expectation of glorifying God. It takes place when a text is sent and received during days apart – inquiring about school, family life, friends, temptations, joys. When prayers for one another are lifted up together and apart. When growth is measured not by perfect church attendance but by the vindication of sin and the presence of the Holy Spirit in each life and is God being glorified in every circumstance?

It happens when they look out from the stage or up from the court of their musical or athletic event and see you there – proud of them, cheering them on because your heart is now connected and your support speaks volumes. That kind of encouragement has insurmountable effects on their identity and time you invest beyond bible study will have the greatest impact.

Take them out for coffee or froyo (that’s frozen yogurt) just because. Ask them to share their story. Set a time aside to share your story – even the ugly parts but always always connect it to your relationship with Christ. They know you are human – but you must be their source of strength. Your source of strength must come from God or you will burn out. Your time with your “mentees” is not your time to share in depth about your struggles. Save that for your own small group. NOTE: If you are not actively involved in a small group of  your age – develop one. It is vital for your spiritual growth.

A good size for a mentoring group is 2-4 students per 1 adult. I would not advise including more that 4 as a good amount of energy is needed to effectively minister to them.

This next point may sound cold, but it is not without good reason.  The purpose of a small group that is led by an adult is for the girls (or guys) to be able to share their hurts, disappointments, and maybe eventually long-kept secrets. For these reasons, a small group should consist only of students who maintain a solid level of maturity and all girls must be comfortable with the presence of each other. This will require some awkwardness at first, asking each one (privately) if she is comfortable with the other girls; it is a necessary step.

As with all small groups privacy is key. It may take weeks, months, or a year, depending on the mentee, before she is comfortable sharing with the group. And it must be made known before the fact that all things shared are kept within the group. And nothing about what is shared is discussed -even among group members- in the absence of the one who shared it.

With that in mind, a dangerous promise you want to avoid is secret-sharing with a compromise. ie: “I’m going to tell you something but you have to promise not to tell anyone.” I would advise you to never take this offer. If a student uses this approach, I would respond with, “I am honored that you think I am trustworthy, but if what you are going to tell me has the potential to be harmful to you or anyone else, then I can not promise that I will remain silent.”

Thus far I have assumed mentoring is same gender. I am stating it now in case there is any confusion: Your mentoring MUST be with the same gender. For obvious reasons. One on One time, sharing struggles, (it would be vastly inappropriate for a young boy to discuss a pornography issue with a woman) etc.  Just – don’t.

And finally – prayer. For yourself as a spiritual leader. For your girls who are looking to you. Cover your life, saturate it, drown it in prayer. Realize that God has placed you in your position for such a time as this. Allow Him to cultivate your successes and failures into a grace-embracing life. God willing, your small group will continue on for years to come. Loving and learning together and growing in Christ.

So remember: 4 key elements of mentoring

1) Weekly time set aside for Bible Study and prayer

2) Texts throughout the week. Not a stalker-ish amount; I usually shoot for once a week to each girl.

3) One on One outings. These have the potential to be especially personal or very laid back. I have used this time to discuss future missions trips, family struggles, testimony sharing, or simply catching up.

– Also included in this category is attending sporting events, musicals, or anything else that your small group students are passionate about. Support her in this!

4) Prayer, prayer, prayer.   Ann Voskamp puts it brilliantly:  “The prayers we weave into the matching of socks, the stirring of oatmeal, the reading of stories, they survive fire.”

A Quick Response to the Anti-Abercrombie Bandwagon

America took great offense at the appalling declaration of Abercrombie CEO that A/F would not be distributing sizes above large.

Okay.. so maybe it hasn’t made National news, but in the world of facebook, ambitious people are defiantly posting their thoughts on the recent quote from Jeffries. And one young man took it a step further and cleaned out the local thrift stores of the brand and distributed them to homeless people. Bravo.

But stick with me… here is what entered my head soon after mentally applauding this young man’s creative protest:

Aren’t we, as Christians, exclusive? Do we not preach from pulpits everywhere that

1) There is a Heaven

2) The only way to “get there” is through Jesus Christ?

If that’s not exclusivity, I don’t know what is. But hear me out – I am not associating Christianity with Abercrombie and Fitch. I am not here to undermine the truth of John 14:6

(Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me).

Considering that God has made every individual in His image, you should be disgusted at exclusivity based on physical weight. But really? Boycott Abercrombie?

Here is my question:  Why only Abercrombie? Why so infuriated with one man making a comment about his desire for his company? Jeffries’ comment stems from a lie we’ve accepted as a culture: You are only as valuable as you are beautiful.

You know who those rejected people are in your life. Yes, you do. Compliment them. Every day.  You’ll make a bigger difference by complimenting a heavy person(or ANY person) than you will buy re-posting the story.

Why not buy the .99 t-shirts and hand them out to the homeless? Why have you not already gone through your closets and given up your name-brand clothing?

If you care so much about people who are in need, give of your time, money, and clothes for the heck of it.

Not to make a point. Do it because it’s the right thing  to do. Do it because people are made in the image of God, and deserve to be loved.

And when you do, don’t post it on facebook.

To Be Needed

You look up at me with your mohawked cowlick and your eyes wide with wonder. When did you grow so big?

Because it was yesterday your father drove anxious to the hospital and I birthed you out red faced into a world in desperate need of the warmth you brought.

I pushed you out cold and you gave your warmth to my whole, trembling soul.

My baby girl.


And they bled your foot and my heart bled more until I had you back in my arms – all wrapped up like a baby burrito.

And no one ever tells you that a child is really just your heart walking around outside you, exposed to the elements and it’s not the last time your heart will bleed for them.

They told me to let you “cry it out” but never said how my ears would pierce until my arms soothed you back to sleep. And you slept just fine, so peaceful that I couldn’t even give you back to your bed until your breathe steadied me.


You don’t own one comprehensive word in your dialogue but I understand your unspoken need for me for the fourth time that night and utterly exhausted as I am, I need you to need me. Because I have aches and nightmares too and your daddy holds me and traces my skin and needs me to need him and we all need Christ.

They told me to “just wait” until it gets worse. At church, in grocery stores, in the neighborhood.

Like the ominous advice of the world is to enjoy what I have now because it won’t last forever.

“Enjoy being single cause men are animals.”

“Enjoy not having kids cause you don’t have a life after them.”

“Enjoy your kid while she’s young cause in a few years she’ll be a terror”.

Well I’ve heard enough “enjoy it nows” and not one of those fallible prophecies has come true and God’s got this.

My life is joy. Not constant happiness; but always, always joy. And yes, I think I will “just wait” and when the next comes I’ll just wait and keep on basking in the brilliance of my moments with you.

Now you’re eleven and a half months and I wont wait for you to be one whole year old to realize I only have seventeen left.

Because love is patient. I count every laugh and the only memories that keep are the ones I grow from and love from and live for.

The moments of God-struck wonder at all His goodness and why should I be so blessed when third-world mothers can’t feed their babies one egg a day? Too many hours of pointless status updates, too many pins are wished for and anyone would wish for my life.

What brings me to my knees when I have no crippling pain to lay before Him? Goodness. Pure, resounding mercy. Overflowing from that vats of all He has to offer.

Little One, in all it’s gravity and unsurety, pride and insecurity, your heart must be His to be anything. Every success attributed to Him with every failure embracing His grace and all glory rising up.  Will yourself to give when it’s hard and deflect the enemies lies because comparison thieves joy.

Brought to your knees in trial, raised off your feet in victory. Our God, Your God, is able to do all that you could ever ask or imagine.


“Do you see little Scout? Do you see what God made?”

Her little fist pushes into my shoulder, her neck cranes to see the newly fallen snow. Curtains drawn, sunshine bright still not breaking the cold. Billions of miles away it’s fiery inferno does nothing to warm the ground. Image

Stand at the window, will the sun just a little bit closer.

Little One grasps at blueberry muffin crumbs pincer style. What am I grasping for? In my perfect, undeserved life, with no current worry to bring me to my knees, what draws me to Him? Image

The golden words of C.S. Lewis ring in my ears, “The created glory may be expected to give us hints to the Uncreated, for one is derived from the Other and, in some fashion, reflects it.”

Hers is the face of created glory. Her watching eyes do not see life as merely good or bad but as something to discover and dissect.

Untrained. Uninhibited. Beautiful.


When did I quit discovering and begin judging? Life categorized via pleasure and displeasure. When morning coffee became injected energy instead of a calming enjoyment to accompany a devotion. Seeking to be good instead of becoming good.

I am drawn to His glory by its very reflection.


When goodbyes are rushed and lack touch.

Smile first. Hug back. Stop grasping, start embracing.

“Go slow. Be God-struck. Grant grace. Live Truth. Give Thanks. Become the gift.”                                                                                                                  ~ Ann Voskamp


“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways Your ways                          declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than yours.”  ~ Is.55:8-9

Of Virtue and Zombies: Essential things to understand about your man’s world.

Of Virtue and Zombies: Essential Things to understand about a man’s world

His Hobbies

I have a confession to make: I like to play Black Ops. I mean… I realllyy enjoy a long round of Nazi Zombies. For you girls who have not been introduced to the world of first-person shooter games, they are mindless. And in my humble opinion, a lot of fun. My first attempt at playing zombies was while hanging out with my husband (though at the time we were in the we’re-not-officially-dating-but-everyone-knows-we-will-be-soon stage). I ran around like a chicken with it’s head cut off and tried to avoid getting bit by the hoards of zombies. But it only took a few games before I was brave enough to venture out and buy guns, defend my own window, and assist in reviving other players.

My thorough enjoyment of the game made the guys around me stop what they were doing and stare. In a matter of moments I realized something that had never dawned on me before. As much as any girl loves being surprised with flowers or gifts, any man’s jaw will drop when a girl enjoys doing the same thing he does. To my married women out there: Does your man like to read, work on cars, play video games, etc? Do it alongside him! Even if you would rather scrub floors than pick up a controller, or throw up before you put on your running shoes, the very fact that you are attempting to enjoy his hobbies will send his heart through the roof!

His Friends

Caleb bought a house right out of college and at the time lived with his three best friends. A wall constructed of cement blocks and plywood shelves divided the dining room and living room and held three TVs and endless lines of cords connected xbox’s to the 60 inch flat screen TV right in the middle. Unmatched couches and lazy boy recliners lined the rest of the walls. It was college-bachelor heaven.

Okay, quick like a band-aid….

Ladies, if you want your husband/boyfriend to want to spend time with you, do yourself a favor and don’t keep him to yourself all the time. Let him hang out with his friends. It may be his favorite thing in the world to cuddle up with you on a couch and watch a movie but that doesn’t mean its what he’ll want to do every free night. All men are created with some amount of testosterone and they need to have their time away from you and around their guys – yes, even after they are married. In our marriage, this is called “man night” and though I (oddly) prefer that they all come and crash our house, I don’t always want to be around for their manly… uh…exploits.

Ew. Gross. No thank you.

For the sake of laughs I will share this story with you: On one such “man night” Caleb and his three best friends rigged up a flat screen tv in the back of a pick up truck and drove around (on the highway mind you) playing x-box. Through the Taco Bell drive through, while stopped at intersections, they roared and laughed and had fun. These men are 24 and 25. But they work hard, and they need this time to release tension and just be boys.

If its hard for you to be alone knowing that he is having fun with his friends, be intentional! Schedule girl’s night at the same time. Get together and eat chocolate and watch girl movies and paint your nails. God knows we would be in a sorry state if we had no one to understand PMS, the latest tragedy that you endured at the hands of a paperback book, or go figure, those confusing men. Thank God for girlfriends!

His Environment

A man’s world and a woman’s world are about as similar as My Little Pony and Harry Potter. While they may coexist within the same general lifestyle and schedule, they view different things very differently. “Well duh!” You may be thinking. “You try explaining to my husband why he has to forfeit hours of his life every December standing in lines and wrapping presents and untangling lights.” My husband and I have had this discussion many a time. Growing up, Christmas day (or any holiday for that matter) meant a nice dinner and family time. In his words, he “may have been tossed a toy gun on Christmas morning”. When I heard his expectations for holidays my jaw dropped lower than a basset hound’s ears. I come from a large family of eight kids and holidays are prepared for at least a month in advance. Christmas shopping begins on Black Friday at four in the morning. Decorations go up before December arrives and the anticipation nearly drives everyone up the wall! We take turns going in pairs to pick out gifts for each other. The gifts are not big, but they are given with love and some end up being completely homemade. I love everything about Christmas, so when Caleb blurted out that he had never given a birthday or Christmas present to anyone… ever… I had never been more confused. Needless to say, we gave Christmas gifts after we were married. But back to the environment thing, it takes very intentional communication between both parties in order to avoid hurt. I’ll give you another example:

I have always prided myself in being a very emotionally stable girl. I’ve never been given to random hysterical breakouts that seem to plague other women. Even that “time of the month” rarely brought roller coaster emotions. So when I became pregnant and felt like crying every other day, Caleb learned real quick to simply hold me and not say a word… not a single word. About four months after giving birth I was hit hard with postpartum depression – an emotion I had never experienced and had no clue how to deal with. This depression brought back insecurities that I had struggled with in high school. I will go into more detail of dealing with these merciless burdens later on but for now we will focus on this story.

For a long time my insecurity was such that one day after Caleb failed to tell me I was beautiful half way through the day, I found myself changing into a more attractive outfit and walking past him multiple times; subconsciously hoping for some poetry to spew from his mouth – you know, the kind we listen to country love songs for. The kind that not even those country singers write, they just sing and make ’em sound real.

After my sixth or seventh time walking by, still nothing. Not even a smile. Of course, he obviously doesn’t think I’m pretty anymore.Poor Caleb. I’m sure he wondered for a while where his totally confident and self-assured wife went! To this day I couldn’t tell you exactly what overcame me back then but it was definitely a lesson that I needed to learn; as women we absolutely can not depend on men for our self-esteem! Nor do they want us to. That’s a lot of pressure for crying out loud! I love how Beth Moore says it: “A man is infinitely more attracted to a secure woman than to an emotional wreck who insist he can complete her.”1 Looking back I realize that I could have walked by in a clown costume and he wouldn’t have taken a second look. You know why? Because we were in the middle of remodeling our house and he was way over his tall head in things he wanted to get done. He was digging up our driveway and fixing a water pipe and installing garage doors for crying out loud! And I wanted him to stop and spend a few moments building up my stupid, self-absorbed ego. It humbled me immensely when God finally sat me down to think about how selfish I was being. Instead of admiring Caleb for his God-given ability to fix anything and everything, I was more focused on how he was making me feel. Don’t get me wrong, its not wrong to want to feel beautiful and please our husbands – it’s in our very God-created nature! And what an awesome thing it is when a wife captivates her husband with her body. Can you imagine how disappointed our guys would be if we all of a sudden didn’t care about our outward appearance? Not to mention how boring getting dressed would become. No, it is very important to take pride in your appearance, but it must not become the center of your focus.

  Save yourself a lot of future hurt and frustration by taking the time to see where his mind is focused.

1Beth Moore, “So Long Insecurity” p. 8 (Tyndale Publishers, copyright 2010)