Since I wrote my last blog, so much has changed. I am a year older, a first time home owner, but most of all I suffered the loss of my grandfather. All this has happened within a weeks’ time period. As I type about this week I ask that you be in prayer for me. There are so many moving parts in my life right now. The worst feeling for me in the world is to feel so unstable with the weight of so much constantly looming over you. “But God…” I love when Paul says that in the Bible. I often smile when I see it and even say it to myself. To me when I read, “But God…” it indicates that no matter what happened before, God is rectifying everything. And it will be good. No matter what you or I feel.

When I got the call about my grandfather on June 28, 2016, it was so out of the blue. I feel this is happening all the time to me. I feel like the Lord is taking a lot of people around me home. In a selfish way I said to the Lord, “Can I please catch a break? Please?” My grandfather’s passing reminded me of February 2007 when I found myself receiving news that my father had gone on to be with the Lord.

Growing up my mother married a very special man who took care of me as his own. I would never call him my step-father because to me, it is offensive. In my family we never use those titles. You are sister, brother, mother, father, aunt, cousin, or uncle. My father was hands down the best father. He taught me everything: How to cook, how to drive, how to change a tire, to be faithful, to work hard, to serve, and how to be “good for nothing.” Now my father wasn’t going around and teaching his daughter to be what “good for nothing” normally means. Rather he taught me to be good and never expect anything in return. Never serve and do it from a place of expecting praise or for a fee. He was simply amazing. I am forever thankful to the Lord, because although my biological father was never in the picture until 5 years ago, our heavenly Father didn’t let me miss out on a thing. I don’t take that for granted. The Lord has truly had His hand in my entire life.

After the death of my father in 2007, it seemed as though our family all separated. For years I felt like all of a sudden we didn’t see anyone but twice a year. That was it, and I was so mad. I was offended, hurt, and felt like I was being rejected because I wasn’t blood. I took everything personally, and I spoke so poorly on this matter given any opportunity. I had so much anger from words being exchanged about money and family. It went from getting cards every year just to say something like “Merry Christmas” to only my little sister being acknowledged. For me, nothing would come anymore. If my father were here, that would not have happened. They treated me so differently, I felt. It was insulting at times. I thought it was on purpose, but it was a very ugly time in our lives. Funny, when we would see each other no one spoke about such things. We would act like nothing was wrong. It was like family members were a distant memory of good times but also a very present painful reminder.

This drew lines in the sand so to speak. My sister and I were hurt by the change we saw unfold right in front of us. My grandfather was a quiet man as it was, but he seemed to not care about us. When his son died, one would think that he would be even more diligent about his relationship with his only two granddaughters on his side of the family. He had remarried many years ago, and everyone over there thought he was the best thing since sliced bread. This was even more upsetting for many years. He seemed to be such a good grandfather to everyone but us. We couldn’t understand the problem. And we will never know what the main issue was all these years. But that is not the point of this letter to you all. I have something greater to share about what God did.

By 2016, a lot hadn’t changed, but I did notice some things over the years. Last year on my birthday he brought a cake over. For a few hours he ate, talked, and laughed with my husband and me. I was like a giddy girl; I couldn’t believe he was standing in my living room. I didn’t even know he had my phone number. Wow! God knew. He knew that this day would come, and this would be a moment I would look on for years to come. In his own way, my grandfather was trying to mend things. They weren’t these extravagant gestures, but it was something. Needless to say, I still wasn’t in a place where I could look past it all. I wrote prayers in my Thistlebend studies many times for the Lord to rid me of my bitterness towards him in particular. But, I hadn’t been intentionally killing my flesh on the matter either. Let’s just say, I knew I needed to be fixed in this area. I just wasn’t a willing vessel. Weird how that works.

So when June 28, 2016 came, I wasn’t ready to let go. I said to the Lord, “We had so much more to do, God. What is your plan here for us, Lord?” and for days I tossed, turned, cried, repeat. I became anxious at every moment, because in the days to come there would be people that I would see and that had blatantly ignored me since the death of my father. I didn’t know how to behave, I was distant, and thought that all I needed to do was shelter my little sister from any hurt she may experience. At one point I was introduced as the “adopted daughter” of my grandfather’s son. So I thought that I should be shielded, and really I was just hoping they would spell my name right in the programs (if my name was in them at all). I was nervous because I didn’t want to be left out, but I was grieving for my family at the same time. The family was becoming smaller, and there would be no way to go back and change anything. I couldn’t go back and right the wrongs. I couldn’t reach out anymore and be intentional with my grandfather. This made it so much harder. I couldn’t go back in time.

“But God…” All I kept seeing that week was the power of God’s grace and mercy. For the first time I said, “God take over.” I didn’t want to move without Him anymore at this point in this area of my life. His grace and mercy was the only thing I knew would shelter me and give me strength. I have learned that in this ministry time and time again. Even when you don’t feel like you want God to move, you confess that too. You have an advocate in heaven. His name is Jesus Christ. And no matter what situation you may be in in your life, He wants you to believe and trust in Him. He has left you with a Helper here on earth too, to lead, guide, and be a reminder of His promise (John 14:12-21; John 14:26; please read).

When the time came, I was over at my grandfather’s house. Something truly sweet from the Lord was shown to me. We walked up to my grandfather’s office and everywhere I turned there were pictures of my sister and me, and some of just me. I stopped and cried. I thanked God because at that moment I was so taken aback by the fact that he thought of us. He saw our face more than once a day. My grandfather cared. For me to see that he kept pictures from 1993 and move them around from place to place in perfect condition, showed that he cared about us. He took the time to make sure nothing happened to them. Their house was brand new and in his office was just a desk, a few wall hangings, and our pictures. Those were one of the first things my grandfather put up. And I could not contain my emotions about it. I said, “Wow, he thought of us!” My grandmother said, “Yes, Honey, he loved you all so much.” At that point it didn’t matter what happened in the past. All that didn’t matter. This was a blessing to my aching spirit. I felt confident in the room. With what she said I decided to speak at his service. And below are the words I spoke to a few hundred people to celebrate the life of a man who above all else was saved and had a relationship with God. That is truly the most important legacy any man can leave with his family. No matter what.

Today, I wanted to share a few thoughts that have been on my mind since the day “Paw Paw” was called home. I wanted to share these thoughts because everyone else has or will do an amazing job eloquently expressing what I wish I could say about my grandfather. Today, I wanted to speak directly to my family. To my grandma, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, and our spouses [I named each one directly]. In February 2007 I stood before you at the age of 15 and read a poem, “God Doesn’t Make Mistakes.” Now in 2016 at 25 years of age, I share the exact same message with you. But this time, I say it with confidence, I say it with a firmer sense of understanding, and a deeper appreciation. This time I wanted this to be a message of hope and a reminder of what the important thing about our “Paw Paw” was.

You see, he had faith. His faith in Christ Jesus grounded him, kept him, cradled him, and carried him. This same exact faith is always [aware that God has] a plan for our lives. And in this plan we often feel our faith tested, tried, and stretched to its maximum. This plan for our lives never looks like what we humans think it should. It never is composed of all the pieces we think it should be. But this plan was created by the very same God who molded the universe, and strategically placed every star in the sky. I think we forget how big of a deal this is. When you feel that strong breeze on your face or look into the night to see the moon perfectly suspended in sky, I want you to remember that the same air you are breathing in this very moment was given to you by the same God who orchestrated this very plan. The same plan that you and I try to fashion to our own liking all the time.

What if I told you that you were supposed to simply trust this plan?! Surely we can trust the plan of the One who knows every hair on our head, and every thought before we even think it. For some of us trusting is hard. We have been hurt many times, and we feel like, “Lord, why?” What if I told you that from this trust is a hope in His plan for you? If you truly believe in Him, He has already worked this out for your good. Just read Romans 8:18-39, where this plan is talked about. That passage also says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18).

There is a plan for us all. And I know that from these ashes, there will rise something truly beautiful. He will one day get the glory. We may not see it now. We will hurt sometimes. It be so uncomfortable. We will have sleepless nights. We will have this flesh until we are called home. We will often forget what we have been promised in the Word of God. There will be many days when we doubt Him. There will be days when we will rely on our own strength. There will be many times when we catch ourselves questioning the One who stitched every fiber of our being together.

But hang in there! We will love one another unconditionally through this. We will encourage one another. We will be there to remind each other that the same Jesus who died on the cross is the same Jesus who rose from the grave and gave us direct access to that strength. So give yourself a break, lean in to this, and rest in this strength. Trust in His plan, be renewed in your mind with the hope that Christ gave on the cross, and have faith.

This is what “Paw Paw” believed. And THIS will live on forever in eternity. This is what I need you to remember him for.

All for His Glory


“I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God” (Psa. 17:6).

“I don’t like limits,” my 12 year old said in response to the pediatrician’s suggestions regarding screen time. The pediatrician was taken aback but responded professionally. She said she understood how people (like my child) who struggle with anxiety like to feel like they are in control of things. Limits – set by others – can be perceived as restrictions, which affect our ability to control any given situation.

I found the pediatrician’s words to be remarkably insightful – and helpful to both my child and me. As a parent trying to help my child work through anxiety, and as a person who also suffers from it, I know how crippling anxiety can be.

But as I reflected on the conversation, the Lord showed me something else that was crippling: the need to “feel” in control. It may be augmented in anxious people, but don’t we all like to think we are in control?

We are born into a world that cruelly tricks us into thinking we actually CAN control our lives, our homes, our careers, our finances, our schedules, our relationships, our health…and even worse, that we are entitled to be in control of all of it. When things go wrong in our lives, our jobs, our bodies – when we have trouble (and we will), we despair. We feel anxious. It’s terribly dispiriting to discover something we thought we controlled is beyond our control; that actually, we never did (or could) control it.

As we begin our In the Garden prayer study, the Lord is showing me that I have control issues too. I don’t like limits. I don’t want to limit “my” time at night so that I can get up early to spend time with Him. I don’t want to fully surrender “my” life because, if I’m truly honest, I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it. I don’t want to fully surrender because, somewhere in my heart, I feel like I know what is best for me.

Actually the Lord is showing me an even uglier truth: my need for control is an idol. It replaces my need for Him and prevents me from truly seeing Him as sovereign.

As Laurie said last week, there is worldliness in all of us. It’s inescapable. Our sin nature – our flesh – identifies with the world, is pulled by the world, lulled by the world, lied to by the world. Only time with our heavenly Father recalibrates us. Time in His Word. Time in prayer.

My prayer life is not what I want it to be. I confess this. I praise God that I can pour out my heart to Him, and that He will hear me. I praise God for the In the Garden study because I can re-learn the basics and beauty of an intentional prayer life. I need this study!

Dear heavenly Father, I praise you as my sovereign Lord. You are God and I am not. Your ways are not my ways. Help me to know your ways are always best.

Thank you for loving me, a weak sinner with a wandering heart. Give me a desire for you.

Give me the faith to see you alone as sovereign. Help me keep my eyes fixed upon Jesus, not on myself, my circumstances, or the world.

Lord, I confess my desire for control. I confess my dislike for limits. Grant me the faith to fully surrender to you.

May you alone be glorified as I seek your face in this new prayer study.

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life” (Rev. 22:17 NIV).

Growing in Grace


So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Cor. 4:16-18)

I read these verses in the introduction week to the new Thistlebend study we just started, In the Garden, and the Lord had me go back in my quiet time to think about it more. My husband and I are still on this adventure that the Lord began for us a few weeks ago. It has been quite the roller coaster of anticipation and quick decisions and now we’re in more of a waiting period to see what the Lord will unfold next. Like I mentioned in my last post, the potential at the end of this ride is something my husband and I are greatly desiring and the Lord has been revealing to us how much emphasis we are putting on this mundane thing that He may or may not give to us. I thought I was okay with either outcome, but this past week, for a brief time, it appeared like all the potential was going away, and I realized that I wasn’t okay like I thought I would be.

As much as I hate to admit this, when my husband was giving me the updates for the day that included that deals were falling through and communication was lacking, I tried to pretend like I was okay. I tried to pretend like I didn’t care because I was going to praise the Lord regardless. But my quiet demeanor, sharp tone with my husband, and an overall annoyance the rest of the evening proved differently. I was being a brat and pouting about the circumstances all the while trying to muster up the faith and do what I knew was “right” by saying, “Oh I’m fine; this is what the Lord wants.”

I confessed to the Lord the next morning my frustration and pride as He opened my eyes to reveal to me that while I say I’m trusting Him with whatever outcome He brings, I was clearly not living that reality. The next day also revealed new information and new clarification that brought me and my husband to the next crazy turn of our adventure and kept the dream we are desiring alive. As I sat in awe of this and what the Lord is doing for us, in spite of how I was acting, the Lord brought to mind a Scripture I had read in The Holiness of God: “Know, therefore, that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people” (Deut. 9:6).

I sit here and type, honestly in awe of His grace. I looked up the meaning of the word transient the other day when reading the verse from 2 Corinthians. Synonyms included short-lived, fleeting, momentary, here today and gone tomorrow. Circumstances here on this earth are literally here today and gone tomorrow, but yet I put so much thought, energy, and weight on what is happening right in front of my eyes. Scripture–the truth–actually tells me that weight really lies in the weight of glory in eternity with my Savior, without whom I am nothing.

I love hydrangea bushes, those huge snowball bushes that are popping up all over the place this time of year. For my first Mother’s Day, my in-laws let me pick out something from a landscaper in town (a family tradition each year) and I picked out some hydrangea bushes that my husband and I are waiting to plant. They haven’t been blooming like others that we’ve seen and I’ve been so disappointed, but I also must confess that it has been our fault due to busy schedules and not taking the time and/or intentionality to water them. Any time I think about watering them I get lazy and think, “Oh I’ll water them tomorrow.” The other day I pulled into the driveway and was so excited to see that there were buds on these bushes even in the midst of the leaves falling off and yellowing because they were dying. The Lord used these bushes to reveal to me, once again, that He alone provides the growth. It didn’t matter that my husband and I weren’t watering these bushes and that they were dying. If the Lord wants them to grow, they will grow. God is God and I am not. What the Lord is giving me and my husband right now is not the gift of a transient, earthly thing, but actually the eternal gift of seeing Him and His grace, a deeper understanding of Him and His character. Honestly, I can’t fathom His love and goodness, but I know it’s worth praising regardless of the transient circumstances that He may allow.

I am so weak, my mind and eyes are so deceived so easily. Praise God for having His way in spite of my frailty not just in earthly things but with eternal things. Lord, will you help us to look to the things that are unseen—to you and you alone in the midst of our momentary circumstances, good or bad.

Planted for His Glory