I recently read a book called “Hiking Through” (often I read backpacking books when I have an insatiable itch to go on a long backpacking trip but alas, cannot).  Aside from a man’s journey hiking the 2,160  mile Appalachian Trail, his constant reflection back on his life were all the things he’d missed out on by allowing himself to be busy and pursuing career or ‘stuff’ over being present and enjoying life.  Ironically enough, between managing a few too many things in my life, have been processing that idea for a few weeks.

This week I read a short something called “Your Story and His Story” and consequently it stuck a deeper chord.  The page long article written by Dr. R.L. Pratt Jr., caused me to ask myself some questions; questions I believe we, who call ourselves Christ followers, should consider.

Dr. Pratt presented the story of Hannah and Samuel (see 1 Samuel 2:1-10).  In reading we see a heartbreaking yet hopeful story of a woman who experienced great pain and great blessing.  Yet in the narrative we see a woman with a deep abiding knowledge that God’s story was bigger than she could see, and further that her story was a part of God’s.  We may not directly relate to the experience of long being without child, then having the blessing of a child only to give him back in service to the Father in the Tabernacle, but we relate unreservedly to the pain of life, the ups and downs.

Every human on this earth (every honest human) can give an account of the ways we have been frustrated, disappointed, then elated, and again felt the sting of disillusionment.  In reality our story may be nothing we would want to admit because it pales in comparison to Hannah’s story.  On the other side, our story may greatly surpass Hannah’s and be nearly unbelievable.  Here’s the beauty, it does not matter how big or small and comparing to others pain doesn’t help.  We still have a scar, we still have our own heartbreak.

But more importantly, how do we see our pain?  How do we see our ups, our downs, our insecure moments of doubt?  Do we allow it to throw our lives into complete turmoil or do we ask God to show us glimpses of how our story is intricately woven into the bigger story He is weaving.  I ardently believe that our stories are part of God’s greater story.  For example,

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have it’s full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
— James 1:2-4

There are many other beautiful examples of God using our stories as part of His story, but frankly the entire Bible is a testament to the ways God uses broken, normal, weak people to accomplish His will.  I believe it takes reading the whole thing (over and over) to really understand the depth of this.  Picking and choosing little moments really doesn’t do justice to the beauty within The Word.

In Hannah’s story, along with many other, I am affirmed that God has not abandoned me or gives little consideration to my pain (be it large or small).  He does not promise that He will remove the hurt of the world (remember Genesis & ‘the fall’), but He is faithful to be with me and use the pain to draw me close to Himself and restore our souls — everyone has heard Psalm 23.  Go read it now.

So, with my relative rabbit trails — I want to get back to what I set out to say.  How often do I dwell on my circumstances?  Do I allow myself to compare my story with that of another friend?  How often do I form conclusions that are false?  How often do I believe ‘something else’ will make me happy?  Do I let myself get caught up in dwelling on the worries of this world versus dwelling and abiding with Christ?  How often do I sit an relive the past or worry about the future?

I don’t want, nor do I believe God wants us, to steep in the mire or worry, regret or disappointment.  He has continually blessed us and throughout scripture promises to grow us and pour out wisdom through His Spirit.  If that’s not a blessing I don’t know what is.

I want to be present.  I want to be.  I want my eyes and heart to be open to the ways God is moving around me each day.  I want to enjoy time with my wife, my family and my friends now.  Because we aren’t promised tomorrow or even our next breath.  I don’t want doubt or worry to cloud my thoughts.  I don’t want my ‘to do list’ to keep me from Abiding, dwelling and making my real home in Jesus.  I don’t to make it to 31 years of age and think, “Ugh, what have I even done with my life”, then proceed to list off my pathetic disappointments.  I want to choose joy now.

“You make known to me the path of life;
in Your presence there is FULLNESS of joy;
at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
— Psalm 16:11

I am going to choose to be.  And ask the Father to keep me. 



unrelated side note:  In case you were curious, hiking the entire Appalachian Trail is high on my wish list for the future.   I would consider accepting applicants for hiking partners.

A Balancing Act…

484 days ago I started my most favorite adventure. When my husband and I began this adventure I added a new title to my repertoire…we both did. I am a wife. I am a daughter. I am a sister and a friend. I am a teacher. I am a leader. The lists of who we are can be a mile long. We are constantly being pulled in various directions. Time feels so valuable and also so so short.

It’s a balancing act to manage it and manage it well.

And the trickiest part of it all is that some days I don’t feel like I am balancing it all…at all…and some days I have a pity party of 1 because obviously everyone else is managing to balance it all and they balance it so well…

Except they don’t.

And His grace…His grace is enough and it’s so, so sweet. So I take a deep breath, because it is well with my soul.

Balance is different each day. There are the floating days…the easy days…where time feels like it has been multiplied and I have more than enough time to do all.of.the.things. It’s easy to forget His grace on those days…

Then there are the days that feel short. There is seemingly no time to be spent on things that feel so important. There are tears and unfinished tasks. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by His grace on those days…

I am learning that balancing all of my hats is so different day to day…incomplete tasks are ok…resting and abiding in Jesus is the upmost important thing. I must trust Jesus in the undone….

I must rest in the Truth that Jesus is committed to me…and to my emotions…and my ‘not enoughs’ (that aren’t real)…He’s got this…my worth isn’t in being the best wife…teacher…daughter…friend. My worth is in Jesus…

And it is well with my soul…

|Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. || Psalm 62:5|


His Joy Comes in the Mourning…

As I scroll through my newsfeed on Facebook…as I receive text messages from family or friends…as we pray through the prayer requests shared by my fourth graders as we sit in a circle on the rug…I am constantly reminded of one thing. We are hurting and life is hard. We are mourning a laundry list of items and some days it just feels like it’s too hard and it won’t get better. There is conflict everywhere. There is then division and then things are even harder….or so it seems. I so desperately want to turn my eyes. I want to look away beyond the gray skies and to the rainbow on the other side.

But I can’t. I can’t dwell on what is hard, because I know…

I know sin is real. Sin is all around us, and until Jesus returns, sin isn’t going anywhere…and this can make me tired…

But, there is Hope.

It is so hard to see the hard in our day to day and rejoice. It seems as though we are doing something wrong when life is hard but we are full of joy. Can I live in a broken world…and rejoice? Can I walk alongside my friends who are hurting…and rejoice? Can I find joy in the midst of this mess? Can I find joy in the mourning?

Yes. Yes, I can…because the Lord delights in me.

My prayer is that I would live a life of balance. On the days where all I can do is mourn…may the Lord restore in me the JOY of my Salvation…even if that is all I have to cling to. On the days that are the opposite…when all is well and Joy is all I can see, may my eyes be open to the hurt in the world and the world’s desperate need of Jesus, and mourn with my brothers and sisters….I am praying this for you, too, friend.

Lord, turn our mourning to joy…Clothe us with your joy…Thank you for Your joy, that comes in the mourning…

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy. |Psalm 30:11|




Sometimes life is overwhelming.  Be it just normal pressures we place on ourselves or things far more embarrassing…

And more often than not, the words & emotions are difficult to convey.  However, I suspect they are shared emotions of many today — and as such, it seems like I should be bold to admit they can be struggles, that they are real and present (despite the fact I think & know them to be ridiculous).

Let’s start with social media.  Can we just admit that it makes life more difficult sometimes?  Even when I know it’s unwise to assume the facade of someone’s online life is a perfect reflection of their real life — it can sometimes be painful.  Even if you didn’t want to be invited somewhere, being excluded or unintentionally feel ‘forgotten’, is a difficult & common emotion.  It’s obnoxious, but FOMO (as my younger friends and peers call it), the “Fear of Missing Out” is lame, but very real — and very divisive at times.

(NOTE: please know this isn’t a response to things friends have posted online recently 🙂 this is just culmination of thoughts that Clara and I have talked on an off about for a long time and the issue behind all of this is deeper, it’s a matter of heart, not circumstances — no worries!)

In addition I will sometimes, albeit not often enough, stay away from Facebook or Instagram.  That way I am not reminded of ‘whatever I am not or don’t have’ or ‘ways I am lacking’ — which is indeed a lie from the Enemy (Satan).  What I mean to say, it’s easier to avoid social media than fight against the lies we are told/shown every day.  Lies like, we aren’t good enough, you are less valuable than them, you aren’t as wise, smart, successful or attractive, you are forgotten, you are less loved… Those are hard thoughts — and lies we are all told constantly (in one way or another), whether we see it or not.

Regardless of this world — I know my heavenly Father loves me completely & perfectly (see the Bible, all of it).  But seriously, it can hurt to feel less loved than you should.  We’ve all been there, sometimes we are good at brushing off the lies, or speaking truth to ourselves.  But not always…  All that to say, we know the TRUTH — and I personally must repent of the moments that I believe the lies.  Jesus, send your Spirit, give us the Truth & help us abide in the Truth.

“Come to me, all who are weary & burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy — and My burden is light.”
— Matthew 11:28-30 NASB

We can’t expect to be perfect or lead perfect lives.  We can’t compare ourselves with all the ‘masks’ or ‘facades’ that we and our friends put online.  It’s not intentional (hopefully!), but people can’t show everything online — and shouldn’t.  But for me it is just too easy to see:

  • what I don’t have and/or want
  • what gifts others have and I don’t…
  • how great their homes, their lives all appear to look (compared to mine)
  • they’re more blessed & I am ‘behind’

Even IF those things are true, it’s not wise or good to believe the lie that any of those make a person more loved or valuable to God the Father.

It’s easy to feel left out in life too, not just social media.  We ‘think’ friends have ‘left us behind’.  So rarely is this true.  Satan, the Enemy wants to destroy us & community we have — we must watch for that & guard against it — (see John 10:10 and 1 Peter 5:6-9).

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

— John 10:10 ESV

John 10:10 says and reminds us that Jesus came to bring ABUNDANT life.  Not defeated life, or sad life, or, ‘left out and behind’ life or ‘limping along’ life — NO, he came to bring ABUNDANT LIFE.  I don’t know about others, but that’s a promise from Jesus direct, and it’s a promise I want to cling to, a promise I want to find constant peace in, and to abide in.

That’s my confession for now — and I thank God for the forgiveness of those moments when I believe the lies.

— Brian
(12:17 am, 8/31/16)


I rather like how you sometimes stumble upon quite profound truths, even in random emails.  Today I received an email from the subscription list for Rend Collective, the Irish folksy Christian group.  They tend to focus greatly on the community, the gospel & what God has called us to as believers in the Truth.  I like that.  But today’s email struck me, and I am thankful to have read it.  They were excited to discuss their new album, a follow up to their previous ‘Campfire’ album.  The first was naturally, recorded around a campfire.  The second installment will also be recorded around a campfire.  For many reasons I won’t go into — I love anything outside, outdoorsy or campfire — but that’s not the point.  In this email, a particular statement stood out in regard to worship and the idea is quite opposite the norm & haunting in it’s depth.  The quote reads,

We’ve been thinking a lot about simplicity in worship.  A phrase that’s been bouncing around in our camp has been ‘simplicity breeds authenticity’.

I personally found this incredibly refreshing.  I am possibly one of the rare folks I know who gets a bit overwhelmed by the flash of modern worship in evangelical circles.  It is not something that appeals to me, and I believe distracts from the core focus we are called to, the Gospel of Jesus.  Not only did I find this quote refreshing, but perhaps indelible.

In regard to simplicity and authenticity — I believe removing fluff helps us as broken people to remove the masks.  I don’t need to pretend to be better or more gifted in order to keep up with the flash of modern evangelicalism.  If the church culture teaches me we have to make everything better, bigger & more impressive — I am left to assume that I must also be better, bigger & more impressive.  Thus negating the Gospel and putting me on track to perform and slip on a mask when I am not measuring up.  Yikes.

In complete fairness, these thoughts are subjective — being my opinions, observations and preferences.  They are in no means brilliant and are probably not of great divine inspiration.  However, when I read the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John), when I read Acts and all the letters of the early church — rarely do I see mention about making sure our worship is anything more than simple.  The main focus is Jesus, the great Love of God the Father and the works of the Holy Spirit.  The emphasis lies more on humility, surrender, abiding in Christ, relying and trusting the Spirit, loving others, protecting the unloved and forgotten and being set apart and not captured by the snares of the enemy.  Do we really focus on that in our worship?   Or is it more about, “finding ways to draw people in…”?

Psalm 149 & 150 certainly speak of the instruments used to praise God, and things for which we should praise God, but I don’t get the impression it was meant to impress outsiders — it was meant to glorify God.  And in the Spiritual Kingdom established by Jesus that we dwell in, it is about worship in Spirit & Truth.  I cannot read John 4:23-24 without getting excited chills,

“But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
— John 4:23-34 HCSB

I love that verse, worship in Spirit and Truth, true worshipers — wow, isn’t that what we really long for?!

Resoundingly in the New Testament I read a narrative, a fervent teaching that the Gospel is enough to compel people to true worship, Romans 12 worship (Romans 12).  And don’t we want true worship?  If we are seeking to pull people into the Body of Christ through ‘excellent programming’ and ‘killer experience’ and ‘relevant sermon topics’ are we diminishing the grandeur of the Gospel?  Are we taking the power of God into our own hands?  Are we not confident enough in the Gospel’s power?

To me, worship is getting ourselves out of the way to adore God for who he is, without our issues or agendas.  But the flash of modern worship ‘feels’ like an excuse to add more between us and God, rather than remove and draw near to the Father.  When is the last time you heard that in church… “draw near to the Father”?

I was fortunate enough to bounce this ‘mental chewing’ off a co-worker today and was given a very interesting perspective.  Upon giving him the statement “simplicity breeds authenticity”, he provided the response, “authenticity can breed simplicity”.  I wish I was eloquent enough to unpack the thoughts in my mind, but my co-worker’s reversal of the words is very profound.  I agree upon further thinking that he is indeed right, meanwhile I still agree with the original statement too.  I suspect they are interwoven, which is typical of most things I have learned of God.  They are rarely as surface level as we may initially think, they are always richer, deeper and more beautiful than we would dare to imagine.  This is something I dearly love about God.

Simplicity breeds authenticity. 
Authenticity breeds simplicity. 

Perhaps this is all rather naive and idealistic, but if there is some truth to it, I want to take it seriously and draw nearer to God & His word to help me unpack it more.

When it comes down to it, none of these things — lights, impressive music, beautiful sets, professional production and/or created experiences are by any means wrong or bad — but if they detract from truly worshipping God, they should be sacrificed to Glorify the only one deserving — our Heavenly Father.


I was really convicted last night, and it was a long time coming — and I am glad!

It has been on my heart/mind for a few weeks, but particularly since this Monday.  We have worked hard to save money the last year we’ve been married & it’s been tough.  We’ve said yes to some items and projects we should have probably waited on AND we’ve said no to a lot of things we knew we could afford but didn’t want to overreach.  But unfortunately I have become a frequent user of a couple bad bad phrases.

  1. We can’t afford it.  (ugh, really Brian?)
  2. We don’t have any money.  (idiot.)

So here’s the story of the ‘conviction’,  I’ll try to be brief.  I got Clara a very awesome anniversary present… but somewhat costly.  Unknown to the good friend who knew about the present, I paid very little.  Between gift cards & store credit (that we had no other need for), the present was literally an insane deal.  But from an outside perspective, hearing I purchased a relatively extravagant gift, there was some confusion, maybe even concern.  For example, “How could I justify spending so much money when I am always saying we have no money or cannot afford things…”.  Really, really good JAB TO THE GUT!   Far too frequent uses of the above ‘taboo Brian’ phrases had caught up with me and caused issue with a gracious, understanding & loving friend.  Good job Brian, not.

There is a pretty significant difference in “We can’t afford” and “choosing NOT to afford”.  In reality what I am usually trying to say is, “It’s just not in the budget”.   Which, clever turn of events, is exactly what I have begun saying (just this week actually, let’s be honest — this is fresh off the press people).  NOT defending myself in the slightest, but I have a tendency when I am trying to focus on losing weight, being thrifty, getting organized, etc. to overshare.  Partly because I want to be honest and open but mostly because I am preaching to myself to keep ‘on track’.  I am ALWAYS re-learning this delicate balance.  And in this scenario, I need to shut it.  Something it happens, it’s real, it’s okay 🙂

The truth is, we are exceedingly blessed beyond what we deserve.  We have a beautiful home, which we lovingly refer to as the ‘Homestead’, we have nice furniture that was surprisingly either gifted to us, handed down or sold to us for a bargain.  We have nice newer cars, although if another rock or hail stone comes at my car, I may just lose my mind — sorta joking, sorta.  I could go on and on, but seriously — God has very much blessed us.  I don’t get why He has been so generous with us, but I need to be much more thankful and conscious rather than speaking of what “I can’t afford”.  To some extent that is a slap in the face to God; that he’s blessed us tremendously and I have the audacity to focus on what I can’t afford versus how I am blessed.  In all seriousness, shame on me.  It is certainly something I need to repent of.

In fairness, we are not ‘rich’ by most standards.  There are a LOT of people who have WAY more than us & always will.  It’s difficult to sometimes not feel a bit ‘simple’ or struggling when you compare yourself.  On the flip side, we have LOT more than others.  Clearly a simplified argument against comparing oneself to another.  But that’s not the point today.

A lot of people are probably JUST LIKE ME, but that doesn’t excuse it.  We are blessed to be a blessing in this world and we are called to be set apart, to not conform to the ways of this world (Romans 12:2, p.s. I am a big Romans 12 fan, just an FYI).  So when I feel the habit, or temptation coming to say, “We can’t afford it” or “We don’t have any money” — I need to quickly call myself out (quietly, of course) and instead look upward and thank God for the tremendous blessings He has given to an ungrateful fellow like myself.

Perhaps this confession was a tad too honest — to me it’s a big thank you to God for the blessings He’s given us and a BIG thank you to the brother I received a gut check from last night.




Better a day in Your courts than a thousand anywhere else. I would rather be at the door of the house of my God than to live in the tents of wicked people. Psalm 84:10 HCSB

The past 6 years I have spent my school years with 9-10 year olds. A lot changes in a child over the course of the year, and I am thankful the Lord saw fit to mold my heart in a way that adores these years with these little people. I can always rest easy at the end of the year knowing that if the Lord taught them half of what He taught me through them…we can call it a success. 

One thing I am reminded of through my 4th graders from year to year is the idea of contentment. I am reminded more than anything that contentment is learned for the most part. As a child, it’s typically not intrinsic. Beyond that I know, too, that 9 year olds are constantly watching my every move. As they watch, they learn more about my character. 

What story does my character tell? Is it a story of contentment?
It’s a punch in the gut EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Brian and I have been blessed beyond measure. We have a home. FILLED with more than enough, and yet I still find myself flipping through home improvement magazines longing for the day things stop breaking and we can finance the fun additions to our cozy home. Sometimes I get lost in the dreams of ‘someday’ or what could be.

It’s in those moments where I lack contentment. I forget how blessed we are. I forget that this is a fun adventure that I am sharing with my favorite person. I forget that our home is a ministry, and that more than cute Pinterest projects, we desire for our home to be a safe haven to our friends when they need a place to just be.

The Lord has an incredible way of redirecting my eyes to the cross. To His story of contentment. To His perfect character FULL of grace…peace…contentment.

It’s in those moments where my ‘wishes of more’ become prayers of contentment

HE is enough.