Release (Five Minute Friday)

Two songs could easily describe my struggles lately. One old and one new but both with similar messages.

LET IT GO... such a catchy tune but so hard to do in real life. Why can’t I seem to let go of the things I need to in my life? Why do I hold on so tightly? I can’t seem to release the pain from broken dreams and a broken heart. Grief follows me wherever I go. New wounds open old wounds and I pick up the things I had once released. Oh, why can’t I just let it all go?

PLEASE RELEASE ME... This has been the song in my heart lately. Please release me from the hurt of betrayal and disappointment. Release me from the anger from false accusations and verbal abuse. Please release me from the chains of people pleasing and approval seeking.

And then I hear His voice… Singing over me a new song. My song. Telling me I am His. He is for me. He is in me. He is with me. I can let it go because He’s already got it. And as He sings I feel my heart begin to release the things that bind me. I am filled with His peace. I am released to face the giants and I am chained only to Him.

*five minute Friday is fun way to join other bloggers over at She gives a word prompt and we write for five minutes with no editing. Just writing what comes to our mind.





The Storm


I come by my love of storms quite honestly. Whenever we felt the winds growing stronger and the sky was getting darker, my mom and sisters and I would gather on the front porch and watch as the sky lit up with lightening and the trees swayed in the yard.  When the thunder boomed we would cover our ears and hide our faces but we stayed there on that porch as long as we could, enjoying the thrill of our own bravery.

And, still, even today as I was cooking dinner and I looked out the window to see the sky darkening and the wind whipping the jungle of weeds in our yard, I had to stop and run onto the porch so I could watch the storm roll in. Standing there with the wind and the rain and the thunder was where I needed to be in that moment.

Tonight I’m thinking about that and wondering what it is about a storm that draws me in so strongly that I have to stop and watch. Not just watch but be right in it. It’s so many things really…

it’s the display of power and me feeling so small

it’s the wind blowing in my face and me feeling so free

it’s the thunder crashing and me feeling so brave

it’s the rain letting loose and me feeling refreshed

it’s the shelter of my porch and me feeling safe.

One storm, coming in so quick and then gone, and it leaves me feeling changed, better, stronger.

raining hands


I’ve seen my share of real storms but it’s the storms of life that have left the biggest mark in my life. I can’t say that when I see those kind of storms coming I run out to meet them with such eagerness. No, these are the storms that make me want to hide under the covers until it passes. But life isn’t like that. Try as we might, there are some storms that we have to face head-on and I’ve seen my share of these also.

And while I may never look forward to them, I can face them and I find that with each one I feel a little stronger. I’m learning to look at them for what they are….life. Life is full of storms and we can run from them, be angry about them, or learn from them. Here are some of the things I am learning.

A storm helps me to grow. I have been studying and memorizing the words of James 1:2-4 in the last several weeks, Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. It’s hard to look at my storms and see them as a gift. At least the kind of gift I don’t want to return unopened.  But they are really. When I look back at the storms I’ve come through I know that I’m a different and better person because I weathered them.  And, you know, I want to be mature in my faith. I don’t want to be found deficient in any way.  I want people to be able to look at me in the midst of my storms and see my faith and its true colors and not find me lacking. So I’m learning to let the storms work in me.  And it’s hard. But worth it.

Storms force me to run for cover.  When it storms we all look for shelter, don’t we?  We look for a safe place to land and wait it out. And that’s what happens when the storms come in my life.  I find myself running for protection and I always find it in the same place; He will shield you with his wings. He will shelter you with his feathers. His faithful promises are your armor and protection (Psalm 91:4). I run to the shelter of His wings and there I find my safe place. I remind myself of His promises and His faithfulness and protection in the past. And as I hide myself in Him I find comfort and rest in the midst of the raging storms.

Storms show the glory of the creator.  When we watch a storm we can’t help but be in awe of the sheer strength, the beauty, the power. When we look at the storms of life we see the same. We see the way He works in us and through us and beyond us and we are in awe of His power to calm us in the midst of the worst of the storm.  And, in the end, His glory will be on display. Right now I am storm-tossed. And what am I going to say? ‘Father, get me out of this’? No, this is why I came in the first place.  I’ll say, ‘Father, put your glory on display.‘”(John 12:27-28)   All around me is the evidence of His work in my life, Him using the storms to bring out His beauty in me. If we let Him do His work in us, we become the rainbows, symbols of His glory and faithfulness to those looking for hope in their storms.

Praise you in this storm


There is no way to escape the storms and there is no way to soften the blows. Storms are hard. Storms are scary. Storms are powerful. But, in the midst of the storm, we can praise the One who is more powerful. We can thank Him for what He is doing in us and for us and through us as we walk through the storm. You are strong and He is stronger.



The beautifully scarred Bride

I came across these words recently and I have not been able to forget them. They stirred up feelings in me that I cannot just push down or ignore. It seems I cannot rest until I put them down here and share them with you. Maybe they are meant to help one of you, or maybe they are for me alone and that is okay too.

How baffling you are, oh Church, and yet how I love you! And where should I go? You have made me suffer, and yet how much I owe you! I should like to see you destroyed and yet I need your presence. You have given me so much scandal and yet you have made me understand sanctity. I have seen nothing in the world more devoted to obscurity, more compromised, more false, and I have touched nothing more pure, more generous, more beautiful. How often I have wanted to shut the doors of my soul in your face, and how often I have prayed to die in the safety of your arms. No, I cannot free myself from you, because I am you, though not completely… -Carlo Carretto
I don’t know the person who wrote these words or why they were written but oh, how they ring true for me. This world has not always been kind to me and I have scars, long and deep, to remind me of the pain and loss. But no scars run deeper than those that have been left by the church. The one place we should be able to run to for shelter from the storms of this life can be the very place that causes us the most pain.
And there have been times I have wanted to run from Her and forsake Her for the world. I have looked at Her and seen, not a bride, but a bully. Instead of a place of comfort and peace, I have found conflict and discontent and I want to walk out and harden my heart against Her charms. Because the pain of loving her is too great and the burden too heavy.
But, then, how I love the church!  At the times of my greatest weakness, She has scooped me in Her arms and held me up when I could not stand. Her songs have washed over me and soothed my wounded soul. Her people have stood with me beside the hospital beds, beside the casket, beside the open grave and whispered life back into my dead heart.
And I linger there, beneath Her shelter, afraid to leave.  Wanting to stay and feel the love and acceptance. Basking in Her glory and knowing that in Her I find my hope.  She is my most faithful friend.
It is such a terrifying thought that we, the church, can be all of these things. It sometimes feels hopeless to me. Will we ever be that pure and spotless bride that Christ calls us to be for Him?  We are made up of people with ambitions and agendas and selfish hearts. We push for what we want and when we don’t get it we hurt each other or we leave. And we leave behind scars. The bride is blemished.
But, beyond my wildest comprehension, God has chosen to use this blemished and scarred bride as His instrument to bring His message of salvation to the world.  We, in all of our messiness, are His rescue plan!  He looks beyond the scars and He sees the loveliness.  He sees the pureness. He sees us, not as we are, but as what we can and should be and uses us to bring Himself glory. There is no way the world could look at us and see anything but the ugliness of who we are if it were not for the grace and blood that cleanses us and makes us pure and beautiful.
So, I guess that is why I stay. If God can look at me and see beyond my darkness then can I not do the same for the church? This church is His plan, His idea, His bride. And, despite her flaws, I want to be a part of Her. I want to be there waiting when He returns for Her. Together, all of us wounded and scarred, we are beautiful.  And though we may whine and complain and hurt each other, He has chosen us and called us His own.
And so I will stay and allow God to use me and purify me and through me show the world that the Church will prevail. And I will love these fellow wounded and wounding people of the Church until He takes us Home.

Five Minute Friday- Jump

I spent my summers as a teen working in a little ice cream stand.  Those were days filled with friends, sun, watching movies, and going to work.  We had fun there, laughing and singing to the radio as we scooped ice cream and filled orders.  One summer, in particular, I remember the song “Jump” by Van Halen was popular and when it came on the radio we would grab our ice cream scoops or a broom or a mop and start singing and jumping without a care in the world.  Those are fun memories but I wish that song had played out in my life.

I could sing, “Jump! Go ahead and jump” but I couldn’t really do it.  I was cautious and scared most of the time.  I didn’t jump into things.  I waded.  Stuck my big toe in first to see if the waters were safe.  Jumping has never come easily for me.

I look back now and wonder what life would have been like if I had jumped more.  Would I have chosen differently?  Would it be better?  Or worse?  I don’t know but I do know that I am ok with the cautious person that I am.  I don’t regret it.  But maybe, just maybe, the next time I feel the nudge to jump into something I will turn that Van Halen song on and just do it!

Go to to see what this Five Minute Friday thing is all about!

Five Minute Friday- Here

Here. Such a small word but such huge meaning in my life.  I have struggled with this word.  Wrestled with it.  Tried to understand it.  Accept it.  Change it.

So many times and places I wished to be there, not here.  Somewhere else.  Somewhere new.  Somewhere easier. But not here.  Here is hard.  Here makes me uncomfortable.

It took the death of someone I love to make me realize the difficult truth.  I will never be truly happy here because my heart, my soul, longs for someplace else.  A place I can only dream about and long for until my time comes to go there. And until then, I am here.

I am here in this imperfect place with these imperfect people.  All of us broken and beautiful.  All of carrying scars and trying so hard to hide them.  All of us trying to find happiness here.  Here where we don’t belong.  Here where we don’t fit in.  Here where we have been placed to breathe and walk and grow and change and live.

Here can be beautiful.  Here can be full of imperfectly perfect moments that give me glimpses of what is to come.  Help me to be grateful.  Right here.


Go to Lisa’s blog to learn more about five minute friday.  It is basically five minutes of unedited, unrehearsed writing on a topic she picks.





Five Minute Friday- Broken

Broken.  The world we live in teaches us that broken means ruined.  Broken means worthless.  There is no use for the broken things of life.  They may as well be discarded like the morning trash.  We throw off the broken things and people and move on to the new.

Broken.  Only the upside down message of the gospel can look at the broken and turn it into something beautiful.  On the cross, the broken body of Christ became the salvation of many.  The brokenness of a grave became the sign of victory over death itself.

Broken.  Because of Christ I can look at myself and all my brokenness and see myself as He sees me… beautiful, whole, complete, worthy.  There is power in the broken.

Five Minute Friday is five minutes of unedited writing with a word prompt provided by Lisa-Jo Baker.


I remember a hot night in August when we drove to the hospital so that labor could be induced and how I labored all the next day so that I could meet you.  You came with screaming and wailing and my life was never the same.  Those blue eyes that looked at me and I knew life would never be about me anymore.  It was about so much more.


I remember a cool night in September when we drove to the hospital and I was pushing my feet against the dashboard to keep you from coming out before we were ready.  I remember the doctor saying that we needed to do an emergency surgery to bring you into the world.  You came with soft kitten sounds that told me that my world was about to change again.  We were on a new and scary path.  A path that led to tears and empty arms.


I remember opening an email and seeing your sweet face and knowing that you were mine.  You were a world away but you were my daughter.  Several months later I traveled for days to meet you.  You came into my arms quietly, looking at me with trusting eyes and I knew I could never let you down.  You were the completion of this family.  Fit together with brokenness and love and faith.


This is my first post on my “new” blog which is currently under construction and my first Five Minute Friday post.  Five Minute Friday was started by Lisa-Jo Baker.  She gives you a word prompt and you write for five minutes with no editing or going back.  It was challenging but fun.  I think I’ll do it again!

Facing Change and Letting Go

This new year has snuck up on me and I’ve been living in a bit of denial that it’s here.  Not that 2012 was so awesome that I want to stay there or anything, but because 2013 brings with it big changes in our family.  They aren’t bad changes.  Just changes.  And who really likes change? 

As I sit here in a coffee shop with my daughter, Allison, I look across the table and see the evidence of the biggest and hardest and most exciting change to come.  She will soon be leaving our little nest to fly with her own wings on the path that God has been preparing for her.  I am excited for her, really I am, but it it hard to imagine our day to day life without her in it.  With her, she will take a joy and light that makes our home so bright.  She will take her strength and resolve that inspires me.  She will take her compassion and servant’s heart that makes those around her see the world differently.  So many things she will take with her and make her own way in this world. 

I am learning through this process of letting go that it is futile to dwell on the things she will take.  Instead, I am trying to appreciate the things she will leave behind.  So many memories and lessons she has taught us in these eighteen years.  As I have watched her walk through the hard times she has had to face in her short life I have leaned on her strength and faith and I have been changed by it.  With her bubbly spirit, she drew the goofy and silly parts out of her serious mama and taught me to laugh more, sometimes out loud even.  Her passion to do the right thing and her sadness when she messed up reminded me that Godly sorrow is necessary to live a holy life.  Her grace and forgiveness gave me permission and freedom to grow and learn and fail as a Christian mother.  Watching her openness to new experiences is guiding me through this season of change.  She is leaving our home a better place and she will always be a part of us.

There are things that I hope she takes with her and holds in her heart through the years to come.  I hope she takes with her the assurance that she is loved unconditionally and that wherever we are will always be her home.  I hope she takes the confidence of knowing that we are so proud of her and the person she is now and that pride will only grow as we watch her in the years to come.  I hope she takes the lessons she has learned from watching her flawed and imperfect parents fall down and get up again… and again… and again.  I hope she takes the faith and hope we have tried to plant in her that you can make the world a better place when you serve and love those God places in your path.  Most of all, I hope she takes the promise that she has watched me try so hard to live that no matter what this world and the people around us try to tell us- we are daughters of the King, dearly loved and beautiful, and created to bring Him glory with our lives.


 So, 2013, bring it on!  Bring the change.  Bring the good times and the hard times.  Bring me through it all a different and better person because I have loved and been loved by those around me and I have lived each moment in the very best way I know how.  And with God’s help and strength, I will keep letting go and facing the changes with grace.

Breath of Heaven

Christmas… a beloved season for so many, including me.  I love the way life stops and we have permission to just be… to be with our families, to be quiet, to be merry, to be like a child, to be a believer of miracles, to be in awe of the gift of our Savior once again.

But sometimes Christmas is hard.  And instead of being, we are bent. We can’t find peace because we are in pieces.  There is no wonder, but only wondering.

I know because I’ve been there.  I remember that Christmas like it was yesterday.  I can feel the ache of disappointment, the weight of worry, and the despair of hopelessness.

It was supposed to be a happy time.  Not just because it was Christmas but because a baby had come into the world.  My baby.  My Emma.  But her birth didn’t bring the joy we had expected.  Oh, we loved her.  We were so overwhelmed by love for her but also fear and confusion and shock.   There was no warning, no time to prepare for all that we would face.  The days after her birth were filled with tests and procedures and an awful diagnosis and prognosis.

Finally, after many weeks in a hospital, they sent us home with our baby.  Just in time for the Christmas season.  Our directions were to make her comfortable.  The underlying message was that she wouldn’t be with us for long.  But we were so happy to just be home.  For Christmas.

It was so hard that year.  Days were filled with appointments and nurses and setbacks and ER visits.  It was overwhelming and I remember just sitting in the dark living room holding my little 5 pound girl with the oxygen tube and the feeding tube, feeling lost and forsaken.  But just holding her while listening to Christmas music as the tears rolled down my cheeks and onto hers and I would just be.  Be scared, be thankful, be angry, be so tired.

And then came Christmas Sunday.  It was going to be an exciting day.  It was Emma’s first time in Church and my first Sunday back since her birth.  We were having her dedicated.  But it was such a terrible morning.  She was so sick.  She was throwing up blood and I was losing it.  I just couldn’t take care of such a sick child.  God had chosen the wrong mother.  I just knew it.  I wasn’t strong enough to do this.

We somehow managed to get to church that morning.  I was pretty angry with God.  Instead of placing my baby in His arms I wanted to walk away that day.  How could He have done this to her?  To me?  Where was He?  Did He know how scared I was?  How much we needed a miracle?

And then I had to get up on the stage and sing a song that had already been scheduled into the service.  I remember singing these words…

I am frightened by the load I bear.
In a world as cold as stone,
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now.
Be with me now.

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.

Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.
Breath of heaven.

Do you wonder as you watch my face,
If a wiser one should have had my place,
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of your plan.
Help me be strong.
Help me be.
Help me.

I was just trying to get through that service and that song.  But as I sang this song, Mary’s Song, I realized for the first time what it must have been like for Mary.  Did she wonder, as I did, if God had chosen the right one?  Was she so scared she couldn’t breathe?  Did she feel as if she could just fall apart at the seams?  Did she feel alone and abandoned?

I don’t know but those words became my words.  As I sang them I could feel my heart pleading with God… Breath of Heaven, hold me together.  Lighten my darkness.  Help me be strong.  Help me be.  And in that moment I felt some healing.  I could feel Him breathing life back into my wounded spirit.  I knew I wasn’t alone.  I knew He had a plan for this baby and that I was a part of it.  And I was the right one.

As we dedicated her to Him that morning I also dedicated myself to His plan.  I offered all I had to be used to complete His work in this little girl’s life.  And beyond.  He was my breath that morning and every morning since.  Through the days of grief when I couldn’t catch my breath, He was my breath.  The breath of Heaven.

There have been many Christmases since that one.  Many are still hard.  But I can know for sure that I am not alone.  That the miracle of Christmas is that the Savior of the world came down to be born in a lowly stable and He also chooses to breathe Himself into me.  Not because I am worthy but because I am loved.

So even when Christmas is hard it can still be wonderful.   

Don’t Pray for a Bushel and Carry a Cup.

I was at Diane’s funeral when I heard these words.  Words her daughter had found written on a scrap of paper in Diane’s purse.  I don’t know where they came from.  She may have read them or heard them in a sermon or thought them up herself.  It doesn’t matter how they came to her but I know God spoke them into my heart as I looked at them that night because I have not been able to stop thinking about them.  They have stayed with me the last couple of weeks.  Working in me, challenging me, changing me.

Don’t pray for a bushel and carry a cup.

That’s it.  Nothing flashy or profound.  Simple words.  At least on the surface.  But they have gone deep within me and made me think about my own prayer life.  In a year that I am focusing on prayer I guess they caught my attention and stayed with me. 

Don’t pray for a bushel and carry a cup.

I pray for bushels all of the time.  I ask God to heal my anxiety, to bring family members back to faith in Christ, to protect my family, to do awesome works in our church. So many things that seem bigger than a bushel to me. 

But I carry a cup.  I ask God for the bushel and then hold my little cup toward Him.  My cup is small because of my small faith or  my low expectations or my unwilling spirit.  I want the bushel but I don’t want to do the work so I settle for a cup. 

And I wonder… what would my life be like if I went to God with all that I am and everything that I have and offered it to Him.  Not a cup, but a whole person willing and wanting to be filled.  Nothing held back.  The truth is I can’t even imagine what it would be like because it is beyond what I could comprehend. 

Don’t pray for a bushel and carry a cup.

As I walked through this Thanksgiving season I was very aware of the blessings God has given to me.  Even when I only offer up my cup He finds ways to pour His presence into my life.  Sometimes I am so focused on the cup that I fail to see the bushel.   But this year I was looking for the bushel and I found it.  Unnoticed gifts all around me.

So, my prayer is that I will no longer be a cup kind of girl.  I want to pray for a bushel and carry a bushel and be aware and thankful when He fills it to overflowing.

 Because He is a bushel kind of God.