Saturday, April 30, 2011


It is rare that I post this late at night (11:30pm is soooo late, haha...) but tonight I must share this incredible song.

The song is "Blessings" by Laura Story.

The lyrics to this song are not the kind you just write because you need a song about the hard things in life. This song has a raw, authentic quality to it, so I had to know the story behind it. I found it [here].

Laura and her husband Martin have been married for 7 years now. Martin was diagnosed with a brain tumor a little less than 2 years into their marriage. Though God has brought tremendous healing to him, they're still in a place of waiting for that healing to be brought to completion. She admitted "we have a whole lot more questions than we do answers."

A quote that really stuck out to me from the story is this: "Sometimes He gives us what we need rather than what we want. And sometimes He lets us stay broken in ways that we might not feel comfortable with, ways that we might not expect. Because it's like that shattered, like that broken vessel that His light can beam through."

He lets us stay broken.

Not exactly a popular Sunday morning topic is it?

God is sovereign over all and has our best interests at heart. While we may try to pray according to His will, we miss it from time to time. As a loving and supremely wise Father He simply cannot give us everything we pray for. He knows whether immediate healing will strengthen us or spoil us. He knows whether that job or relationship or dream we've been praying for is truly His best for us.

He loves us enough to say "no" sometimes. And while the "no" may hurt and our heart may break, He is there through it all to hold us close to His great heart. That is, if we will lean into His arms.

This song is a beautiful portrait of the sovereign blessings of God even in our brokenness. I pray it will minister to you as deeply as it does to me.


"Blessings" by Laura Story

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long we'd have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

Friday, April 29, 2011

sometimes I forget...

Sometimes I forget to stand in awe...

Yesterday I was driving my 24.7 mile drive to work. After the first mile the entire drive is in the country. Farms, farms & more farms. It was one of many recent misty, cold days and I was feeling more-than-a-little bitter about that.

I looked at the clouds and thought, "Wow, there are so many of them!" And in that very moment my bitter crankiness subsided. I remembered how I stood so much in awe of the sky and its Maker when I moved to Indiana in 2005.

Growing up in New Jersey I didn't see much sky except for at the beach (I could see Philadelphia's skyline from an upstairs bedroom window, however, which is pretty cool!). I was rarely in an open space with no buildings or trees. (Yes, I said trees. Lest you think there are only cities and buildings in South Jersey, I must clarify that there are also many trees! The Pine Barrens are part of the 1.1 million acre Pinelands National Reserve. Trees [and ticks] abound.)

But wide open spaces... miles and miles of sky... these were a rare scene.

When I moved to Indiana I became a little obsessed with the hugeness of the country sky. Sunsets were more brilliant; thunderstorms were more thrilling; even a cloudy sky was simply breathtaking. Daytime skies were beautiful, but nighttime skies were over-the-top dazzling! A clear night under the stars in a place with very little light pollution is uh-maze-ing!

But sometime between then and now I forgot to stand in awe. I didn’t even realize it until I noted the sheer size of the cloud blanket I was driving under. I immediately praised God for His creativity and for its breathtaking beauty. Next I began to sing “Cowboy Take Me Away.” Don’t judge me.

My challenge to you is to take delight in something beautiful in today.

Embrace the wind.
Examine your fingerprints.
Stand in wonder of the vast sky.
Delight in your good-lookin' spouse.
Give your kids an extra-tight squeeze.
Be captivated by the intricacy of a flower.
Smile as the sun kisses your skin with its rays.
Heck, enjoy the scent of your grass as you mow!

All of creation was hand-crafted by God, and I’m sure He wouldn’t mind getting props for it!


Saturday, April 16, 2011



Ten years ago this month my parents separated. I was a junior in high school, my sister a freshman. Just eleven months later they were divorced.

In what seemed like only a moment, our entire world was turned upside-down. 

A Little History Lesson
Growing up I was a kid who stuffed my emotions away. I perceived from an early age that anger and disappointment were "negative", so I tried to just be happy all the time. I thought my parents and teachers would be pleased with me if I was happy and didn't complain. (note: I am the middle child. If you’ve read any birth-order personality books you probably know we tend toward secrecy and are peace-keepers who avoid confrontation.)
“Keeping it all in” proved poisonous to me. As a young teen I struggled with depression thoughts of suicide. In my high school years I searched for happiness in many places, finding temporary comfort in the darkness of addiction.

When Everything Fell Apart
When my parents separated in 2001 I worked feverishly to keep the appearance of “togetherness”, as I had my entire life.

I was truly in a state of shock. One day we were a family. A mostly-happy, mostly-normal family in my estimation. The next day my sister and I lived in a single-parent home. It was devastating.

I was numb with depression but hid behind the mask of a smile. I spiraled deeper into addiction, desperate to medicate my pain. I quit dance lessons after 12 years because I did not have the energy or desire anymore. I rarely cried when thinking about my parents, but cried about anything and everything else. I experienced rage for the first time, and plenty of it.

Things that Hurt, & Things that Helped
I wish I would have known then what I know now: Divorce is a kind of death, a tearing apart of something that was designed for permanence. With death comes grief. Divorcees and their kids are grieving a terrible loss and need lots of love and compassion.

Things that Hurt:
·         Continually being told “You’re so strong & have so much joy in all of this… I’m so proud of you.”
This may not sound harmful, but connecting strength and joy to approval can damage a vulnerable young person. For me it reinforced the need to put up a mask. People wouldn’t be proud of me if I was weak. Yes, that’s really what I believed.

A better thing to communicate to the young person is that it is okay to be weak and broken. A favorite Scripture of mine is 2 Cor. 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” God tells us to be strong in His mighty power. Embracing weakness is really to our advantage once we bring our weak selves to the Cross. It is there that the fullness of God’s perfect power rests in us.

·         “At least your parents were married growing up. You were fortunate to have your parents together as long as you did!” Yes, I really heard this. A lot. I heard this from adults and even peers with divorced parents!

Nothing could be LESS comforting to a hurting person than “things could be worse” & “look at the bright side” statements. Focusing on all the things “you still have” doesn’t change the fact that there was a terrible loss. Belittling their pain will not help them heal and can even cause a person to feel guilty for grieving.

A better way to help is to validate the person’s grief. A grieving person needs to know that their pain matters. Don’t minimize their situation even if it doesn’t seem like a big deal to you in the grand scheme of things. It is a big deal to them, so refrain from making comparisons to other people’s situations.

·         “How’s your mom?”

As a teen I absolutely hated this question and rarely received it as a caring gesture (even when it was!). Everything inside of me wanted to explode: “WHY DON’T YOU ASK HER YOURSELF?!” Even when my relationship with my mom was rocky I loved her and did not want to see her become the object of gossip. I figured if people really cared about my mom they would give her a call, maybe ask her to meet for lunch or coffee.

Also, a divorcee’s children have likely acted as liaison between their parents enough already. It is not right to put them in the position of having to answer questions about their parent’s spiritual, emotional or financial state.

A better thing to do is to tell the teen, “I’ve been thinking about and praying for your mom. Could you please give me her number so I can give her a call this week?” Then follow through with the call! The teen will know you care without feeling stuck in the middle.

*I was nervous to bring this one up, because people still ask this question every time I am home. Those of you who still ask—I know all of you well—and I know your intentions are pure. You’re the ones who’ve been making phone calls and sending emails and loving my family for 10 years. I appreciate and love you!*

Things that Helped:
·         Being invited over for holidays. People at my church were great about this!

Holidays are hard for divorcees and their kids—family gatherings may not take place and once-valued family traditions can stir up great pain. Inviting a divorcee and their kids to your home for a holiday communicates a sense of love and community.

Even if you figure they have plans, invite them to your gathering. I think a lot of people don’t ask not because they don’t care, but because they figure someone else already has. Sometimes, no one else has! Show some love by inviting them over—it can bring a lot of joy in a hard season.

·         Being part of a church family.

Ever been in church when it’s a special time—maybe communion or a candlelight service—and families are supposed to pray together? These times can be really awkward and lonely for kids from broken homes, kids whose parents don’t attend church, divorcees (and all single people while we’re talking about it!). Pull a stray teen or adult into your family and pray for them like you’d pray for your own family. Prayers from my church family communicated love and a sense of belonging.

My youth leaders (most of whom were no more than 10 years older than me) became family to my sister and I when our parents separated. They’d buy us lunch after church on Sundays and sometimes hang out with us all afternoon. They’d ask if we needed a ride to or from church—they made sure we stayed connected. They sent emails and wrote us cards and encouraged us during some of our darkest times.

Ten Years Later
All I can say is this: God is really, really good.
I have a great relationship with both of my parents. I have a great friendship with my sister. I have a joy-filled relationship with God. It’s taken a long time, but He’s done a lot of healing in my heart.
There’s still a tinge of sadness around every holiday. I cry about it if I need to then enjoy my day. And sometimes it’s still strange going to Jersey and having to coordinate “whose house and what time” for family visits. It’s not how things are “supposed” to be, but it is how they are—and I need to make the best of what I’ve got.
What I’ve got is a lot. I’ve got people who love me, and I love them right back!


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

In This Season

I'm currently sitting in a Caribou Coffee in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Not to be confused with Grand Rapids, Michigan.

I've been wondering lately what the next leg of my Wild Goose Chase is going to look like. I consider myself to be quite fortunate to live the kind of life I do. It is not always easy being a person who moves frequently, but I've come to accept that, at least for now, this is my life.

I believe life happens in seasons.

In this season:

1. I'm grateful to be single.
Don't get me wrong. I believe marriage and motherhood are great adventures and certainly ones I desire for my future. But right now, in this season, I am so blessed to be unattached. I am blessed to be discovering again and again how God provides for His own. I am blessed to be in the process of learning who I am in Christ apart from another person. I am blessed to be in the center of His will for me right now. I am blessed to be under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, learning to submit my will to His.

2. I'm so grateful I'm debt-free.
One reason I'm able to move freely is because I am 100% free from debt. I can't take the credit for this, though I usually tend toward frugality. All the glory goes to God. He's given me opportunities to work and raise funds and has prompted the hearts of many to give very generously to me over the years.
While on the topic of finances, I want to put in a plug for Master's Commissions & small Bible schools everywhere. Through my 2 years as a student and year on staff with MC I am 2 months away from earning my bachelor's degree.
Want to know how much I owe for student loans?: $0.

3. I'm especially grateful for family.
I must confess I have not always appreciated my family as I do today. But throughout the past 9 years of me living like a nomad they have been so supportive. I am blessed to have parents who let me be my own person. I was 17 the last time I got unsolicited advice from my Dad. I've gotten plenty of advice from him since then, not because he insists on giving it, but because I askMy mom calls me from time to time. She doesn't nag me if I don't call her back right away, rather she leaves it to me to share with her, and that's why I do! My parents allowed me to spread my wings instead of trying to clip them. My twenties been anything but "normal" but they accept me as the oddball I am:).
Then there's my siblings: My brother and I only see each other once or twice a year but every time we're together it's like we haven't missed a moment together. My sister is my best friend on this planet. She's stuck with me through thick and thin (figuratively & literally!) and is my #1 confidant. My brother-in-law is God's perfect match for my sister and has become one of my favorite friends over the years!

This is the only picture I could find of my whole family since the '90s...
From Mike & Melissa's wedding almost 3 years ago!

What season of life do you find yourself in? How are you embracing life in this season, and what are you grateful for?