Does God Allow Grief?


The topic of grief has been a prevalent one for much of our country over the course of this past year. There has been so much loss…of loved ones, of routine, of jobs, of relationships, of normalcy. Grief upon grief seems to be a binding commonality amongst friends and strangers alike. It has been so commonplace that it begs the question…why? Why is this something that God would allow? To the detriment of my husband, this was a topic I could not get off my mind as we were standing on the top of Sugar Mountain in Boone, NC this past weekend. 

In a cool dad moment, my Christopher decided he would take all of us on an impromptu trip, five hours north to allow our kids an opportunity to experience snow. Among our adventures was skiing – he hadn’t been in years and the kids had never been. He was SO excited and I… was not entirely thrilled. My insecurities were much higher than my anticipation. 

Before hitting the slopes, we first had to gear up. It is important to note that I was already sporting 2 long sleeve heat-insulating running shirts, long running leggings under my jeans, thick long socks, a massive coat, toboggan and (because of Covid) a mandated mask. (The gloves were riding along in my pocket until we got back outside.) In other words, I was layered for warmth! We made it to the back equipment room with the multitudes of others who were also eager to suit up and hit the snow. But first I had to add to my layers an additional snow bib and ski boots. By this point the nerves were revved all the way up, the heat of the crowded room and weight of all of the attire was pressing in – bringing with it an unwavering rush of panic. I put on my first ski boot and instant claustrophobia rushed over me. If you have never skied, these boots are very big, heavy and obviously restrictive in your ankle movement. I had barely gotten it on when nausea washed over me. I genuinely thought I was going to jump out of my skin. I pulled it off as fast as I could, stripped myself of my coat, pulled off the mask and toboggan and inwardly freaked out. Then I looked over at the excited faces of my kids and immediately thought ‘How am I going to do this? There is no way that I can do this!”…

As I was struggling in this ridiculous moment, I could not get past how familiar this feeling was to that of grief – something our family has been battling with since the passing of my father-in-law toward the end of 2020. Grief. It is something that we always know is out there. We know that it is possible around any given corner, at any unknown…future time. If asked, many of us could give our best Webster’s Dictionary response as to what grief is… that it is a “deep and poignant distress caused by bereavement; a cause of suffering; a trouble or annoyance; an unfortunate outcome.” But until we are faced with it – there is no way to understand the weight it carries; how layered it is; and how at any moment any additional thing makes it instantly suffocating. Grief, in my personal opinion, is a vicious beast. It makes you feel overwhelmingly claustrophobic where your primary thought is “How am I going to do this? There is NO way that I can do THIS!” Unlike my ski attire, however, you can’t just start shedding things to help that feeling pass. It seems so overwhelming…a bit cruel even…surely this isn’t what the Lord intended for us.

And yet, God allows grief.

  • “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
  • “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
  • Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:12-13

It is something He allows, yes, but not without reason. It is an opportunity to lean in on Him. It is an opportunity to watch Him move first hand. It is a way to connect with the One who suffered far more than we will ever understand – even in our darkest grief. It is under the weight of grief that we are reminded of our need for a Savior, that we remember a world who is lost without Him and that we desperately need to cling to Him. 

Yes, He allows grief, but God also helps us process grief.

It took a moment, and some inward cursing, but I was finally able to get on all of the clothing and equipment I would need to safely step onto a slippery mountainside. We made our way from the equipment room to the door that led to the slopes, whereby I was handed my actual skis and poles (dear glory…more stuff!). We then promptly headed for the practice area. This practice area had almost no drop, but just enough incline to allow them the ‘downward’ sensation. It was only a matter of yards in length – not at all intimidating (to them). It was the first opportunity that everyone had to actually put on their skis and get a feel for how to navigate the ice and snow. Within minutes, they were all dropping; skis going one direction, bodies going the other. I tried to help Chris retrieve the littler ones and push them back to the top so they could try again. Each of our children reacted very differently to the difficulties that skiing presented them. One of our boys willingly flung himself to the ground as a braking mechanism. Our daughter fumed that the skis would not do what she wanted. All four processed and worked through it, and my husband graciously and patiently helped each one right where they were. You will notice my use of ‘they’ here as I had yet to actually put my skis on. It was an hour of practicing and they finally felt ready to try an actual sloped incline, when my six year old explained to me that it was now my turn to put on my skis. I reluctantly complied. I placed one foot in, and it immediately grew a mind of its own slipping all around while I tried to put on the other ski. I hemmed and hawed, made several excuses, and finally got the darn things on and attempted my own jaunt across the practice area. My entire body was tense, and I remembered – instantly – why skiing is not my thing. I had absolutely NO control. 

Similarly, grief is something that comes in and out whenever it wants to. It takes your mind one place, despite the fact that your body is trying to go a completely different direction. It is unpredictable and completely frustrating. It comes at you in random, unexpected moments. Sometimes it sneaks up and sometimes it literally takes the ground from underneath you. It makes you feel you have absolutely no control. So how do we process it? How do we navigate something that appears seemingly unable to tame? To process, scripture says…

  • “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:6-8
  • “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
  • “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

If you are the one trying to help someone to process it – may I suggest the strategy my Christopher took that evening that we stood on that mountainside. Chris knew my insecurities and reservations. He knew they did not match with his adventure and inhibitions. And while he knows well that skiing is something that can be powered through and figured out – he knew that he couldn’t force me to figure that out. It was something I was going to have to navigate at my own speed and in my own way. He gave me the freedom to take my time and to navigate what was scary and unfamiliar in a way that was more comfortable for me. He met me where I was. When someone you love is grieving scripture says to embody the fruit of the Spirit and fully explains how to demonstrate that love…

  • “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23
  • “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

God provides relief from grief.

At some point, Chris came and retrieved our littlest and took him over with the others to the ‘real’ slopes (turns out he was the best of all of them!) and I was left in the practice area. And for an hour, I stood at the top of the little incline, practicing putting the skis on, allowing myself to walk/ski forward, trying to make my way to the opposite side with the goal of stopping in an upright position – whereby I would take the skiis back off, walk to the top and do it again. I did this back and forth around 10 times. I ‘yard saled’ hard – several of those times. I hated the ‘out of control’ feeling every single time. But I was able to make it from point A to point B several times – fully upright. And I was SO incredibly proud of myself. I looked over and saw my kids zipping by on the slope beside me. I heard them calling out ‘aren’t you going to come over to the big mountain’. And I was overwhelmed because I had conquered a big mountain – big to me, but conquered nonetheless. Yes, we know that grief is something God allows. We know that He gives us encouragement in how to process it, but He also is gracious in ultimately providing us a way through it. 

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

While grief is universal – the process through it is unique. We can’t compare our grief to others. We can’t look at someone else’s timeline or their process as the measure of what we have to do and how quickly. The Lord may have a completely different time frame in mind for you. The timeline may be short, may be easy and may be filled with few obstacles. The timeline may be long and unending this side of glory, and filled with nothing but obstacles – but it will come to an end. The guarantee that we have is that it has purpose, He will walk through it with us and bring us to a place of hope and healing. For whatever you are grieving, for what you may come to grieve, for the grief that still tries to rear its head know that “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8 

Praying for you friend!

Taking Courage


Did you ever watch the movie ‘The Wizard of Oz?” Of all the various characters that we are introduced to throughout the film – I think that my favorite is ‘The Cowardly Lion.’ When we are first introduced to him, he is doing all he knows how to be the very best lion he can be; doing everything he can to play the role. He jumps around, roars at little Toto, and growls his fiercest growl. The problem is that it is all an act. One quick swat from Dorothy and he falls completely apart. He starts sobbing. He lowers his shoulders. He backs away from the others. He holds his tail and cries out pitifully. He is a hot mess! After regaining his composure, somewhat later however, he makes this grandiose speech – Courage! What makes a King out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk, in the misty mist or the dusty dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the ‘ape’ in apricot? What have they got that I ain’t got? – Courage!’ Have you ever given your own version of that exact same speech? Have you ever played the part of ‘having it all together’, but deep inside knew you were nothing but afraid? It is not the best feeling, is it?

In December of 2019, the Lord impressed on me the word ‘unafraid’. It had come to me at the end of a very difficult year. In January of that year, my husband changed jobs. He had been commuting about an hour away (Monday – Friday) and now was working out of the house, traveling one week a month to Washington, D.C. Because of this job change we realized that the house we were living in (that already felt too small for our family of 6) was not going to provide an adequate work environment for him long term. We knew we would need to sell our house, but having lived in it for over twelve years, there was going to be much to do to get it ready. So we immediately set out to renovate our home (while we all still lived in it and while he now worked out of it. Oh my.) Along with our decision to make ready our house to sell, we had also made the decision that we would use the year to pay off some of our dumb debt and get ourselves in a financial position for me to step away from the toxic work environment that I was in. So for twelve months he learned a new job and our family a new rhythm around that job; we took our house through massive renovations; we sold our house without an inkling of where we would be moving; found a home within weeks of our move out date; and moved. All while I was preparing things where I worked to carry on without me so my leaving would not cause any issues for them – oh and did I mention we were training for a massive marathon weekend where in 4 days we would run 48.6 miles? Love a duck! So needless to say, when the Lord pressed ‘unafraid’ into my mind – it made complete sense to me. I knew that as the year turned over to 2020, it meant figuring out a new neighborhood and meeting new neighbors (I’m an introvert and the thought of that makes me sweat even now.) It meant preparing to step away from several decades of a life working in church ministry. It meant having to find a new church. It meant figuring out what the Lord had for me next. It meant a great many changes were in store – and I won’t lie – I wasn’t handling all of the impending changes well. To put it delicately – I was a hot mess. I had no clue what 2020 was really about to bring. I had no idea the level to which I, and everyone around me, would be taken under by a tidal wave of fear. 

Over the course of 2020, I leaned in – hard – to finding out what God had to say about living life holding tight to Him, and not holding so tightly to the fears that seemed everywhere; what He had to say about living unafraid. In case you were curious, He has an extensive amount to say on the subject. Out of the 66 books that lie within the pages of the Bible, 60 of them speak directly to the subject. Each Biblical character that I read about, glanced over or knew of, all have struggles surrounding some form of fear. Every sin that I saw mentioned has roots that tie back to fear. It is a vicious animal, fear. It can sneak up when your back is turned. It can consume. It can devour. It can kill if we are not careful. To me, the visual that comes to mind is the most vicious of predators – the lion…sitting in the shadows waiting to pounce.

In actuality, this is something that the Lord intends for us to think of when we process the idea of fear. It is interesting to me the amount of times that lions are referred to in scripture. In Isaiah 31:4, the LORD references how a strong lion is not afraid. Proverbs 21:8 references their boldness. Isaiah 5:29 references their strength as a predator. They are used over 25 times as examples to help paint a picture of things we should expect, ways we should act and warnings of what to look for. Their strength is demonstrated countless times in a manner of something that should be feared and that can cause fear – in Judges 14:18, Sampson is even asked, ‘What is stronger than a lion?’ Each of these instances can be countered, however, with the truth that despite all of their strength the Lord can silence them and crush them. In the same way – fear can feel like something that wants to devour and destroy you but Lord gently reminds us that He stands ready to crush fear, silence it, defeat it – if we would but trust that He will.

Too many times to count, God asks for us to ‘take courage’, to ‘be courageous’. It is something we must chose. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, ‘for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.’ We can feel just like that cowardly lion mentioned above – convinced that this is who we are with fears that are too real, too consuming. Despite that – He still says ‘take courage’. 

  • “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
  • “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6
  • “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

As the ‘Wizard of Oz’ draws to a close, we see each of the characters come before the wizard with their requests, their needs. In response the wizard gives the cowardly lion a medal of bravery. A symbol of the courage that is assuredly within him; a reminder that any time fear wants to sneak in, he can be courageous. We have been given a very similar gift to remind us of the courage that we too can have, Christ Jesus. The events around us will continue to swirl. Situations will overwhelm, life will continue to pull the rug from beneath you…taking courage, living unafraid isn’t holding to those moments…it’s holding to Christ and becoming strong in the Lord. If this concept seems unattainable – pray. Ask Him to help you to ‘take courage’ – to have the physical courage to to stand up for your beliefs or to weather life’s storms. To take courage that no matter what – He has not left you; He will not leave you. Instead of just playing the part – begin to truly seek Him, know Him, draw close to Him, believe Him and yes, stand strong in Him. He WILL carry you through. He WILL calm your heart. He WILL direct your next steps. He WILL remind you that you are loved. He WILL silence those fears. No longer do you have to say ‘what have they got that I ain’t got’ because you ‘got’ Him! Praying this with you my friend!

It’s Gross – Get Rid of It!


On a scale of 1-10 (1 being ‘not at all’ and 10 being ‘yes and then some please’), I would admittedly be a 2 on an ‘enjoys things that are gross’ scale. Here are a few recent scenarios for you to see where you might fall.

  1. A few weeks ago, I was talking with my oldest son in the kitchen. He had just gotten up and we were talking plans for the day, projects due, etc. When I happened to notice, just past him, that there was something on the ceiling. As I was outwardly still carrying on the conversation with him, inwardly I was thinking ‘ugh…is that a spider on my ceiling?! Gross!’ I began to walk toward Isaac, and just past him, staring at the ceiling the entire time. As I got just underneath this mystery figure up above – it suddenly came clearly into view. It was in fact not a spider…but a scorpion. (I will repeat that for those in the back…) There was a scorpion…in my house…on. my. ceiling. For the absolute love! I could not scramble fast enough to get something to get rid of this thing. The whole time I was looking around as if an army of them were about to come screaming from the corners of the room, and my son went into action grabbing a shoe and smearing (yes…that was a fun side effect)…smearing it dead across the ceiling. So gross!
  2. Where we live in South Carolina we experience a lot of humidity throughout the year. It is normally crazy hot…but always always humid. This, coupled with the surrounding wetlands, and the result is good old fashioned mold. If you are diligent about keeping your water lines flushed out well and not letting the humidity become too centralized inside your house you can combat it pretty well. But let’s face it – how often do you get to keep your showers and bathrooms completely dry and beautifully spotless (if your answer is anything other than ‘hardly ever’ – you should probably exit stage left.) In truth, I just forget. I forget that the possibility of mold showing up is there. I forget to take those extra measures to dry things up. I just forget. Until moments like last week, where I was having a good old fashioned – I’m gonna stay in this shower until all of the water runs out – kind of shower and I began to look around. Suddenly in every corner, all along each edge I noticed pink moldy streaks. Within minutes – I was out of the shower, somewhat dried off and sprinting for the bleach (yes…bleach. I’m a tired mom who just needs to knock the stuff out – don’t judge). I went from shower to shower – armed with bleach, an old tooth brush and a mission to clean. An hour or so later – every shower and every bathroom sparkled and seemingly let out a thankful sigh of relief. Once super gross – now beautifully clean!
  3. My husband and I have been married for just over 24 years. It was around year 8 when we had our first child, around year 18 when we had our last child, and around year 21 before the first (and most likely last) pet entered the doors of our home. We appreciate animals – we are just not what you would call ‘pet people’. (I know I use bleach AND I don’t watch kitten videos – who am I even?) But despite this we found a little dog that seemed to be the right fit for our family of six. She will never be any bigger than about 5 pounds. She doesn’t have fur or pet dander. She doesn’t shed or make us sneeze. She is too little to destroy furniture. And if she barks – though a little annoying – it’s minimal at best. A good deal of our hesitation in getting a pet – beyond our mere disinterest in having to have another mouth to feed and life to maintain – came from a fear that given the extreme passion and gusto for life that my children seem to possess – that any critter we brought into these four walls would likely NOT survive. Amazingly enough though – this little pup has been with us over 3 years now and somehow survived all of the love she has been ‘forced’ to endure. All is not too bad for our little pup as one of the perks of living in a house with active energetic boys is that they are always eating and never careful about where their food lands. Translation – all kinds of yummy things hit the ground often enough that she plants herself firmly under their feet each night at dinner. She’s not a stupid animal. Normally this works out well for her, but on occasion, like a few mornings ago, they will drop things like the crumbs of their chocolate muffin. (Again, I said it was a wonder she was still alive…I wasn’t kidding.) I could tell she was a little off, and sat down on the floor next to her. She cuddled me for a moment and then slowly and methodically puked on the carpet beside me. Oh my glory – it was so completely gross. I scooped her up and got her settled in a more ‘puke friendly’ environment and then cleaned the mess like we were in a hospital, and the next patient was coming. I cannot truly express how gross!

Maybe these scenarios don’t bother you at all. Maybe you could deal with one, but not so much the other. Maybe you would have ignored all of them. Or maybe you would have been like me – grossed out by each in their own unique way. Regardless of how these things fell on your scale of 1-10 – I would wager that you would do the same thing that I did and get rid of the gross. Realistically, it is not wise to have live scorpions roaming around your house. While initially a seemingly mild thing – mold can potentially grow and cause genuine health issues. And dog vomit, when deposited directly in the middle of your living room floor, is just not something you look at and say ‘you know I was thinking this room needed a little something. Perfect.’ No. You get rid of it. When things are disgusting, potentially harmful or problematic like these – we are quick to take care of them and rid our selves of them. Why then, is this not the case when it comes to the enemy and his hold over you and me?

Satan has a knack for sneaking into areas of our heart and mind and setting up camp. It is almost as if he takes a flag and plunges it in declaring that this space, this experience, this insecurity, this past choice, this past event that now causes you grief or shame, belongs to him. He holds it over you anytime you strive to better yourself. He sends reminders ever so often of the claim he has laid to your heart and life – and time after time – we look on at the grossness of the area he has laid claim to – and we throw our hands up. We step back and say, “oh well, that’s his – I can’t do anything about that” and we allow him to stay there.

If someone broke into your home, plopped down on your couch, and announced to you that this was now their home – you’d high-tail their tush out as quickly as you could. It’s not their house. They have no right to be there, much less live there. Satan, our enemy, dear friend is no different. He has no right, no authority to come into your heart or mind, and he absolutely has no authority to take up residency there. So why don’t we kick him out? Why don’t we get rid of the filth he tries to heap on us every day? When I wanted to get rid of the scorpion I ran for a shoe and it was no more. When I wanted to get rid of the mold I ran for the bleach and it was gone. When I wanted to get rid of the vomit it was as simple as a paper towel and some rug cleaner. In the same way, we have the ability to get rid of the nastiness that the enemy wants to keep heaped inside of us. We just need to grab up God’s Word – and it will eliminate this trash.

If you believe God’s Word is true – if you believe in the promise and hope of Jesus, then you have to believe that every word of it must be true. Every promise, every challenge, every word…true…even for one like you. The enemy wants so very much for you to just ignore the mess he’s made in you. He would like nothing more than for you to throw your hands up and say ‘there’s nothing I can really do there anyway’ so that he can slowly take claim over more and more. If you are going to uproot this nastiness – you are going to need to grab up your Bible and run hard after every lie the enemy throws at you. Now chances are there are areas he’s been hanging out in a long time – so uprooting may take some doing. May I suggest that more than just reading through some verses that might apply to the situation that you turn God’s Word into prayers. Pray this grossness out with the most powerful tool available. Here are a few examples of what I mean…

  1. When the enemy tries to convince you that there is no one who understands you, no one who cares and that you are all alone. Counter that lie with this prayer out of Deuteronomy 31:6 – “Lord, help me to be strong and courageous. Help me not to fear or dread them. Help me to remember that you, oh God, always go with me. You promised that you would never leave or forsake me. Help me to cling to that truth.’ 
  2. When the enemy tries to remind you of every mistake you have made, of your weaknesses, of areas where you have struggled – seemingly shouting that you are nothing but a failure. Take a breath and pray John 3:16-17 – “Lord, You assure me that You SO loved the world…so loved me…that You sent your Son Jesus – not to condemn me…but to save me; not to cast me aside but to take me in. You said that those sins…those failures…were something Your Son chose to take on and take away. Help me continue to believe that – even when it is difficult. Thank you for the opportunity to get to know you, believe in you and by doing so spend eternity with you. What a beautiful victory that will be!”  
  3. When the enemy tries to distort the way you see yourself – be that in physical appearance or skills and abilities – causing you to see yourself as ugly, unlovely and inadequate, lay down the fun house mirror he is holding and pick up God’s Word. Allow the reflection of the One in Whose image you were created to be the One you fix your eyes on. Then holding to His truth – counter the lies of the enemy with this prayer based out of Psalm 139:14 – “Lord, it is so easy to get caught up in man’s idea of beauty and talent. God may I instead get caught up in Your idea of it. Help me Lord to praise you for who I am right now. Help me to remember that I was fearfully and wonderfully made by You! You did it – and I want so greatly to claim that truth today because Lord – Your works…ARE wonderful, I know that very well. So help me to stop forgetting that I am one of Your works.”

You are a precious creation of God, and as such, you are His. The enemy has no place to stake any claim over you – he cannot stake claim on what does not belong to him. Don’t you think it’s time to evict him? See God meant it when He said, “…that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you.” (Deuteronomy 28:7). It’s time to clean house – ‘Submit yourself to God. Resist the devil…” and friend he will have no choice but to ‘flee from you.’ It’s cleaning day! Praying for you!

Choosing What You Cannot See


Do you ever scroll through the TimeHop on your social media? My memory is terrible. And I have found that over the years that I find true joy over scrolling through past memories each day. Inevitably I will be surprised by things that happened – having completely forgotten that I had participated in certain events  – or I will get ridiculously tickled over some dumb thing either my kids or I had done – which are numerous! So I guess it shouldn’t entirely surprise me that when I decided to scroll through today’s memories – I encountered something of an anniversary on this date. It was a year ago today that I stepped down from my previous job. As with any major decision there is a lot of heartache and questioning that goes into it – and this shift was no different. I had been serving at a church for five years. God had made it so abundantly clear when He opened the door for me to work there. I had a thousand concerns, worries, and red flags – but through all of that noise – He continually confirmed and reaffirmed that He wanted me on that mission field. I love how the Lord can truly give you a peace over a decision, situation or issue. I am so thankful when everything else is a chaotic hot mess…His peace, His stillness, His voice somehow breaks through. It is amazing. What is not so amazing…is when He is quiet. I am not sure if you have ever encountered it, but there are times when the Lord can be deafeningly silent! And a year ago today was a perfect storm of both of those moments. He had made it SO clear that it was time to leave my job…and not just my job, but to step away from serving inside the four walls of a church. I had spent the previous two decades serving inside church walls – and now He was saying it was time to step out. This was completely clear. But where I was to go; what I was to do next; what serving Him in ministry would look like next? Yeah…you could hear crickets…but not His voice. 

Maybe I am an odd duck – in fact, I am aware that I am and am rather proud of this fact – but when faced with big changes like those listed above – I freak completely out. I, like so many, do not like change. Good or bad – change is still change and I don’t like it. Why? Because what I do like is to be in control! It is my favorite! I like to have a plan (okay…that’s a lie. I like to have six plans with another back-up or two just for kicks). I like to know what’s going to happen and what all potential outcomes might be. The Lord too, loves a good plan (as a dear friend reminded me earlier – just check out Exodus and his layout of the building of the Tabernacle. If you don’t think God loves a thorough, detailed, fully laid out plan – head there.) There isn’t anything that has appeared on this earth or happened in our lives that the Lord doesn’t have a plan for – there is peace in that and that truth absolutely deserves at least one ‘hallelujah’. He is just not always in the business of laying it out in front of us. He calls us to lean in. He calls us to take a step forward. He calls us to trust. He calls us to choose Him. 

As I sat here reflecting on my time in ministry, my time in my last position, and this day one year ago, God allowed another memory to come to mind as well. I have shared this before, but it is too fitting here not to share again. Several years ago…and by several, I think it was close to a decade ago, my husband selflessly allowed me to sneak away for a weekend. I say selflessly because at the time we had three young children, no grandparents in town, and he was going to be left to figure it all out on his own while I was away. (He is rockstar husband and father – it was just exceptionally meaningful to me that he gave me this little break.). Some friends of ours had a place about forty-five minutes from where we lived – and had offered it up to me for the weekend. I was very excited. I had planned do some prep for an upcoming Bible study I was going to lead. I planned to try and relax a bit, but I really planned to be laser focused and have some quality time with the Lord. (If you have ever seen a mama of young ones – you know time is precious, sleep rare, and time with the Lord as scattered as the crumbs and toys in the house.) Similarly, I was approaching a new season and it was time to get real with the Lord – to look at the areas where I had struggled, acknowledge the gifts He had given, and prepare for the unknown road ahead. It all sounded great – I was super excited, but also incredibly nervous about what the unknowns of what He had next for me.

I was thinking through these things as I drove when I came to the driveway of the get-away house where I would stay. And the thing He had next for me – that He put in front of me?…This nasty picture you see here (forgive the ugliness of it – but without the visual, you might not fully understand). I mean good glory! How completely gross was this little guy! It was bad enough that it was in the driveway to begin with, but for extra kicks it had landed itself smack-dab in the middle so my ability to ignore it wasn’t really an option. 

A random side effect of having little kids at home is that they tend to make you more inquisitive and curious than you normally would be, and I found myself inexplicably getting out of the car to check him out. Now please don’t picture this scene with any form of bravery or poise. I am relatively sure I crept from the vehicle, tip-toeing to his side, with my shoulders tight, my face contorted and a small groan escaping my mouth for no real reason. Please also keep in mind that this thing…this squirrel…was dead and I am ridiculous. As I got nearer to him (to take the lovely picture you see here), I quickly noticed that he was completely missing a leg. Bless this little guy’s heart, I don’t know what got a hold of him, but it did not come out well for him at all. I stood up and breathed a bit easier (now sure it wouldn’t attack me) and suddenly dread swooped over me again. What on earth was I going to do with him?

I’m a planner, remember – so I assessed the situation and quickly came up with four potential plans…

  1. Though obviously dead…I could get back into the car and repeatedly run him over just to verify death.
  2. I could find something to throw over it – covering it up so I didn’t have to look at it.
  3. I could pretend like I never saw him and just ignore it all together (though being right in the middle of the driveway…that was not super realistic.) Or…
  4. I could find a shovel and remove him to his final resting place in the woods.

Now put a pause on this scene from the nature channel…and fast forward to this anniversary date of such big changes that occurred a year ago today. I knew God’s hand was ushering me out, and I knew that up to this point He had never failed or left me – but the not knowing what would come next…the having to trust in the unknown and unseen…I didn’t know what to do. Insecurities overwhelmed me that maybe He was calling me away because I had failed Him. The insecurities of whatever is ahead, I’m not good enough for them, those areas where we (who are all sinners) don’t like to unravel and give God access to – what if I had to face those as I stepped out. I don’t know about you, but those unknowns, those quiet moments, those blind spots – are incredibly scary. And In that moment, I was faced with some choices…

  1. Do I replay past events, past choices, past sins repeatedly to verify that I am too worthless for whatever He might be calling me to and allow the fear of repeating failures to stop me in my tracks?
  2. Do I find something to throw over those areas of my life to cover them up and make excuses so I just don’t have to look at them at all?
  3. Do I pretend that He isn’t really calling me to something new? Why even bring it up with the Lord – let’s focus on the easy stuff and pretend that possibility isn’t there?
  4. Or do I get down on the ground, even it takes an ocean of tears, even if it’s painful, even if it gross…and scoop those past failures and fresh fears up and allow the Lord to put the junk in it’s final resting place so that I can move forward?

Back to my little friend. As I considered my options on what to do with this blasted squirrel, I really did begin to lean toward pretending it wasn’t there and just trying to avoid it. The only problem was it became all I could think about. First of all it was just icky. But let’s say I did leave it – what if it encouraged other critters to come out and feast on it right there by my car? (‘Ick’…intensified.) As much as I wanted to just walk away – that was not a viable solution. I wish you could have seen me remove this thing. It’s not like I even had to get my hands dirty. I just had to grab a shovel, scoop the dead squirrel up (although scooping was actually pushing it across the driveway until I could gain some traction to scoop) and walk a few yards toward the woods. I barely touched it and that gag reflex came over me, and I stood there for a moment shuttering. After a quick ‘man up’ speech…I pushed, scooped, and carried the little bugger to it’s final resting place (head turned away the entire time) and like that…the problem was solved… the yuck was gone and I could move on.

A year ago today was February 2020. I had no idea that within a month the world would shut down. I had no comprehension that I would take over as primary teacher for my children’s education. I didn’t know that a new technology would emerge allowing me to lead three Bible studies out of my home and across the states. My head and heart could not have possibly been able to process that I would lose my father-in-law (who was the only father figure to me). I had no idea what the Lord was calling me to and yet…He called me to it anyway. Sometimes He is quiet because the reality of what’s ahead is beyond our grasp. 

I hope you see where I am going here. The Lord has a plan for you. Even when you can’t see it, when you don’t understand it, when what’s in front of you seems awful and gross, and you feel you are far from prepared for it. Yes, you have lived a life of a thousand choices you wish you had not made – don’t continue to beat yourself up over them. Don’t try to hide away – hoping others won’t see and convincing yourself that He can’t use you or doesn’t want you. Don’t try to pretend that the unknown of what’s ahead doesn’t bother you, or that by avoiding God you will prevent further pain (the old ‘if I don’t talk to Him, I won’t have to hear what He says’ adage doesn’t ever work here). Don’t’ let current circumstances or situations have such massive victories over your heart and mind. Don’t beat yourself up over what you could have done or should be doing or might not ever get to do. Don’t hide away and think that absence will just make it all go away. Grab your shovel…fall to your knees…allow the junk that you think makes you too icky to be His, to get scooped away. Allow Him to take the insecurities and fears and chuck them to their final resting place. Yes, there will always be a multitude of choices – choose Him. He calls us to lean in. He calls us to take a step forward. He calls us to trust. Even when it’s hard, even when we don’t know what’s next, He is always the best choice!

“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 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV

A Matter of Time


We were on our way to our 20 week check-up. It was the appointment where we would get to find out – boy or girl. There were mixed emotions and hopes as we arrived – a buddy for our Isaac would be fun; the prospect of a mini-me…would be scary. Will they be able to tell? Would Chris cry? How would I respond? The ultrasound was underway and amidst an amazing display of technology (giving us a sneak peek of the little one inside me)…the technician remained silent. Asked if we wanted to know…the word ‘girl’ poured over the room in a crashing wave. Chris teared up – my mind raced – a baby girl. We smiled, we giggled…the tech remained silent. We were soon escorted into an office where we were met with the very somber face of an often jovial man. I have no clue what all he said in the moment – I only captured phrases like ‘never seen this before’, ‘cannot see crucial organs’, ‘unsure of survival’ and then we were escorted out a back door so no one would see me crying. No other answers would come for over a week, where after a more in-depth ultrasound, we were given the option to abort. Shocked that we declined, doctors gave us an unsure ending to this pregnancy. That is when my Christopher assured me that whether here on Earth or in heaven – we had been blessed to be called to be her parents and love her always. Peace washed over and trust in an unknown began. It was all just a matter of time. 

As the weeks passed…the Lord moved, He healed, and 13 years ago – today – a beautiful, determined, passionate, strong-willed, dramatic, artistic, big-hearted and healthy baby girl entered this world – forever rocking mine.

For a large majority of her childhood, Lacie has been a fighter. She fought being loved. She fought herself and the poor choices a poor attitude often brought her. She fought any and all figures of authority. Wrong someone she loved, however, and that fight would become deeply personal. From her earliest days I have been confident that the spiritual warfare that so engrossed my baby girl was because Satan was scared witless by her. He has come at her thoughts, her attitude and her heart mercilessly over these last 13 years because he knew that if she decided to cling to Jesus…then Satan was in trouble because all that fight would be directed his way. Only it wasn’t a matter of if but when – yes, it too was just a matter of time. Just a few days ago, Lacie sent the following message to me – something she had written and sent to encourage the girls in her small group. Something she sent to encourage me and something she has given me permission to now send to encourage you. 

“So I have been thinking a lot recently, and mostly about time. Like time on earth, and the time I get to spend with people – you know just time. Also recently I have discovered how much I miss my papa which brought me to this thinking of time. So I looked and I saw that wow I’m almost 13. What happened to the 13 years I have been on this earth? Sure there are memories, but it went by so fast. As I said we only live here for this amount of time .  So I experimented. I drew all day yesterday, and before I knew it – it was dark.  Time had gone by so fast.  I went downstairs and my brother asked me to play with him but I said no. Then my dad told me to play with him for at least 5 minutes – so I did. Before I knew it we were in a nerf gun war and even dad joined in. It was awesome! I hit dad in the head MULTIPLE times – great! After we cleaned up, I couldn’t help but say how fun it is to play with these people. If dad didn’t stop me- I wouldn’t have had such an amazing time. 

Time…. TIME! That’s when I saw it! Wednesday we were coming home from FUSE I had asked for ice cream (because I’m obsessed with the stuff) but dad said no because we needed to eat first. So I said ok and closed my eyes. When I opened them we were at Sonic and was like…what!?! He asked me what I would like and he got it for me.  

Time…. love… I realized how much I am loved by my mom who was there for every performance. She rushed from a airport just to see me on stage. Dad gave me ice cream even though he had said no. He wakes me up every morning to run. He always says nice things about me even when I’m a mess. I feel guilty. I feel like I don’t do enough to show them I love them. But realization comes over me that they DO know I love them – because it shows.

Time, love,…. music! A song! One of my favorites says  “how you live to how you die love is sacrifice. Let my life be the proof, the proof of your love”  Love is sacrifice. Dad sacrificed his money to give me ice cream. He sacrifices time from watching a movie to playing with us instead. Mom sacrifices her time just so that she can give me a hug or talk to me. All this made me realize that time is precious. It goes by so fast and if you don’t do something about it…. soon someone you love will be gone… your best friend will be gone… your time to spend time with others gone. It will all be gone if you don’t get off your phone when people want to talk to you. It will gone when you don’t pay attention in class and you get a bad grade. It will be gone when you start your project and finish it last minute. You wasted time. And then later on you will regret it. Gosh I wish I had gotten off the computer to talk to papa more – if only I had more time. NO! I did have time I just made that decision – that’s on me! In Hamilton! Elisa took her time to tell his story when he died- she stopped wasting time! 

People, seriously take the time to go tell your family how much you love them. Take the time to play with your brothers or your dog! Take the time to spread the word because that is why God put us on this earth in the first place!!!TAKE THE TIME RIGhT NOW!!!! Because before you know it….. it will be gone… time will run out one day…. and then you will think – did you do enough? You know, did you spread the word until you can’t breath anymore? Did you serve God’s purpose? Please look now because later you are going to look back and say wow what happened, I’m already 50 and I’ve wasted so much time! Take the time to love on people otherwise it will be too late and I know how that feels! I feel the regret!!! So I now know I can’t make the same mistake! Soon and I don’t know when but my grandma will die, my “Grandma Grape” will die and many others – so I need to use my time, sacrifice my time, to give it to others. Others who can’t see the good, who can’t see that they are running out of time!!! I’m serious! Don’t. Waste. Time. It’s too precious. You must do something now before it’s too late! So what are you doing? GO back to school. GO back to work. GO back to your family. GO put this phone down and enjoy company while it’s here. If not, you are going to miss out on what Hof had for you and how He can use you!!! Go love on those who disrespect you. Go love on those who don’t love you back. They need your time and energy please!!!! Again it will be gone before you know it. GO!”

So, from a young lady who was first looked at as completely broken, whose very existence was in question and who many first tried to discount before she ever took her first breath…comes hope and encouragement. Yes, from a young lady who has spent the majority of the life she was given fighting anger and frustration, fighting authority and constantly questioning how God could love one like her, comes inspiration and a challenge. Yes, from my beautiful (and brand new) teenage girl, comes a reminder of what God can do, what He hopes and wants to do – if we would just give Him ourselves, our lives, and yes, our time. Her challenge here is very reminiscent of a passage out of Proverbs “How long will you lie there, you lazy person? When will you get up from sleeping? You sleep a little; you take a nap. You fold your hands and lie down to rest. So you will be as poor as if you had been robbed; you will have as little as if you had been held up.” (6:9-11) Our call is clear and our time is fleeting. If you don’t call Jesus Lord – now is the time. If you claim to be His, but aren’t loving others as He would – now is the time. If you aren’t living the life He has purposed for you – rise up – it is time. May the words of my sweet girl, and even more so the words of my gracious God – become your prayer today. “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered–how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath,” Psalm 39:4-5 so that I might say “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8. May this reminder call you to action today – for if a young teenage girl can rise to the occasion surely you and I can too.

Change…It is a Coming…


If this past year and current set of realities have taught me anything, it is that there is one absolute common denominator among all people. It does not matter age, political lean, religious affiliation, skin color, primary language or educational background – every single person at some point in their life encounters a change that they 100% without question…hate. The change could be something relatively minor where you got a wild thought to try a new hairstyle – and within minutes found yourself willing the hairs to grow back at warp speed. It could be a change that you thought about long and hard – a new job, taking a relationship to the next level, deciding to get pregnant, or buying that new car you’ve always wanted. Each of those ‘good’ changes, but all with new responsibilities, expectations, hardships and cost. Changes like these are seemingly ‘in your control’ – and still they can be difficult and hard. Then there are the changes that blindside you. The ones that sneak up from behind – you had no clue they were coming. The kinds of changes that not only knock the wind out of your lungs but leave you numb and seemingly broken as you lay blasted on the ground. The changes that you have no control over – that rush in, overwhelm and leave lasting, lingering, seemingly awful affects. A pandemic, for example, that sweeps the world and altars every facet of life that you know. An election that goes far beyond 2 candidates and unleashes an anger, distrust, and belittlement of others – on all sides – that leaves your head pounding, your heart aching and your mind spinning – that ends relationships among families and friends and divides far more than it ever hoped to reconcile. Racial tensions unlike anything you had seen – with brokenness, exhaustion and anger from those who have never known anything but the like, ignorance and arrogance from those who will never hope to understand, and a lostness and ache from those caught up in the middle. Or perhaps death…of a loved one…taken far too early, for no apparent reason, wreaking havoc and forever changing the fabric of the people left behind. Changes. I hate them.

When my husband, Chris, and I got married, we were ridiculously young and relatively stupid. We were a young 20 years old respectively and had not one clue in this world what we were doing, but glory did we love each other. As a wedding gift, my mother decided to give me the hope chest you see pictured here. If I’m being honest, I found the gift kind of odd and a little irritating for a few reasons. One, the idea of a hope chest was to help a girl plan and prepare for her eventual wedding day. It was supposed to store up ideas, hopes and dreams for all the things a girl would want for her special day and start to her new married life. Its entire make up and design was to prepare you for a major change in your life. There is no other piece of furniture that symbolizes ‘change’ more to me than this particular piece. (I wasn’t a fan.) A second reason I found this piece odd and aggravating was that it was given to me the weekend OF my wedding – like less than 24 hours prior to the event. So I never actually used it for it’s ‘intended’ purpose and therefore I found it to be a super goofy gift. (I was 20 and kind of a goober – what can I say?) And then third, I just wasn’t particularly a fan of the decor painted on the front. Nevertheless, I placed a few random knick-knacks inside, sat it in my living room, and just kind of ignored it. 4 houses, 4 kids, and 24+ years later and the dumb thing still sits here – tucked away in a random corner.

It had been fine to sit in its little random spot because the area where it sat didn’t really have any purpose (seemed fitting for this piece, no?), until recently. At the start of this year, my sweet Christopher sat down with me to encourage me to finally begin to run after a dream I have had for decades. He shared with me that maybe it was time that I really began to take seriously my love for writing. Along with this encouragement came the suggestion that we finally give purpose to some space in our bedroom, and turn it into a place for me to sit and write. I ran straight into this endeavor with full gusto, and low-and-behold met up with my old friends ‘insecurities’ and ‘procrastination’ and suddenly writing needed to take a backseat until I could make the space ‘just so’. Makes sense, does it not? (We won’t mention the fact that this writing endeavor would mean a huge life change for me; my fear of said change; and how that ties into this blog on every conceivable level. No…we’ll just keep that to ourselves.). Wouldn’t you know that within moments, I was suddenly completely and totally fixated on this dumb cedar chest. My initial instinct was that this stupid thing needed to leave. I sat on the floor, and slowly began to think through where I would redistribute it’s contents so that I could finally rid myself of this wooden box. I was almost elated as I processed where and how I would get rid of it. When the random thought occurred to me – ‘you could always just paint it’. You ever have a moment where you not only begin to audibly talk to yourself, but actually get a bit snarky and seemingly start to argue…with yourself? (Welcome to a day in the life of Sarah.) I went round and round for a bit as I came to grips with both the idea of not getting rid of the chest and changing it to match my decor and my needs. How, in 24 years, had this thought never occurred to me before? A quick Google search and trip to Walmart – I found myself with the supplies I needed to transform this chest from something I really never liked, into something sweet, inviting and lovely.

After one coat of the chalk paint, it had certainly covered the chest, the cedar wood and the out dated design, but as you can see it was streaky, and still a bit unfinished looking. To truly transform the piece – it took three coats of paint and one of wax to give it a new, fresh, and beautiful new look. Suddenly, this “afterthought” of an item had suddenly become a centerpiece to this new space that I am creating. Just that simply. I love how it is turning out and yet the entire time I worked on it, I grumbled as I processed all the many ways I dislike change.

Change, is hard. It requires…something. It requires you to let go of something…or pick something up. It requires you to lose (or possibly gain) something or someone into or out of your life. It means extra work (I love the way the chest turned out – but it took days to transform it) . It means facing insecurities and conquering fears. It means trusting when you don’t want to. It means walking blind. It means pain. It means disappointment. It means being totally and completely out of control. And again, if I am honest, it has been this frame of mind that I have allowed to circle my head these last 40 plus years of life. I have often quipped that change ‘good or bad is still change and therefore hard.’ I don’t think I’ve ever equated change as anything but negative. I don’t know if you caught it, but even in the positive changes I mentioned at the front of this piece – I quickly followed with the hardships those things would still bring with them. Can you relate to the kind of thinking? For the last several weeks I have sat overwhelmed that this seems to be a season of countless changes – both small and massive – some deeply personal – some much more of a global nature. It has been almost suffocating and like a bad mantra I have just continually chanted, ‘I hate change. Change is stupid. I. Hate. Change.’ Despite my grumbling the Lord reminded me that as far as He is concerned…

“…I the Lord do not change.” (Malachi 3:3); that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:15). He reminded me that even if I wanted to ignore or bypass those truths – that didn’t negate the fact that “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8). Beautiful reminders that while change is the prominent and consistent qualifier for being human – it was not a descriptor that defines Him – and yet He is the author of change. Scripture is extraordinarily clear that all of mankind has sinned, has fallen, is broken, and lost. If we stop to think of our true depravity – it is beyond suffocating. We are born with a sin nature. We are brought into this world – apart from the Lord with a bent for the things of this world and our fleshly desires. He is equally clear that if we don’t depart from these things then that means a life…an eternity…separated from Him. With that realization in mind – suddenly my hatred for change suddenly becomes desperation to acquire it.

In 2 Corinthians 5:17 He says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” For those in the bleacher seats…to become a new creation, to have the old things in us pass away…constitutes change. He is painfully aware of our brokenness and promises the possibility of change…“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19). Change that comes from the Lord comes in ways that don’t make sense and seem impossible…and yet…promises something new. To receive something new is a gift – always – and we know from James 1:17 that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Remember the gift may bring change, but the One giving it never changes. This world is a mess. It is NOT our home. It is a momentary breezeway on our route to our eternal destination. It is ever changing – it always has been, it always will be. The changes the Lord wants for us are not the changes of this world. The changes He wants for us are ones that bring us to a more intimate posture with Him.”Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed but the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good, and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

Yes, changes – more times than not – are hard, difficult and truly things that will conjure all kinds of hatred toward them. But much like my old cedar chest…the one that had no real purpose, that had spent years cast aside, that was perceived as ugly and useless – a transformation toward purpose, beauty and new life are possible…and needed. To live as His – to do more than call yourself His but actually live it – is going to require change. It is going to require work, and the giving up of something (being right, being heard, being superior, being secure as a few). Remember…“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 unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Don’t allow the weight of the things beyond your control to overwhelm and shut you down. Be willing to let Him move and change you – to a closer relationship with Him and a much need voice of hope to a world desperate for Him. Desperate for change. When you sense the Lord bringing you to a place of change – find joy that He is refining you, pursuing you and running after you. For those changes are put there to help you “…put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the lioness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24). Hated or not, ready or not, change is inevitable; either the world will change you…or He will. He is waiting to refine, strengthen, and love you – there is such hope in those changes, is there not? is a coming, are you ready?



Several years ago I had the opportunity to go with Isaac on one of his school field trips to a local plantation called ‘Cypress Gardens’. It is filled with history of the plantation that used to be located there, and was currently visited for its butterfly house, swamps and walking trails. They had a cool ‘Swamparium’ that allowed you to see snakes, turtles, lizards and ridiculous sized fish from the lovely safety of the ‘other side of the glass’. Or if you were feeling a little more adventurous you could jump in a rowboat and go out into the swamp to catch a glimpse of one of these critters up close and personal. While we didn’t adventure into the boat, we did walk the trails seeing several baby gators, funny necked turtles and yes, even a black snake. All of the wildlife aside, I could not get over the swamp’s multitude of lily pads. It was ridiculous. And in many cases there seemed no break – no glimpses of the water they floated in. It was amazing. The ‘water’ was about as disgusting as you could imagine; covered in a nice thick, green, slimy film; a perfect oasis for the many alligators that I know lay hidden beneath. What I found remarkable, in all of it, were the countless waterlilies laced throughout the entire swamp. These waterlilies were pure white, unblemished, in full beautiful bloom – gorgeous – and all I could do was ask ‘how?’ How on earth could something so beautiful come out of something so disgusting?

Over the years I have developed an uncanny way of forgetting things. From a very young age there are entire chunks of my life that I have no memory of … I have only a handful of memories from high school, no recollection of middle school (if we drove by the building today I would not even recognize it), and the things that happened before my 11th birthday are so sketchy that I often wonder if it is a memory or dream. It’s something that I struggle with still as an adult. I have no idea how this came to be my reality and usually don’t dwell too much on it. It’s really more comical now than anything. I know that my childhood included many trials, as have various periods of my adulthood. Trials that I eagerly seek to forget, but that have embedded themselves into the fabric of who I am, how I respond to events and my expectations. I can go back a bit to times of stress and busyness that have placed strain on my marriage. I remember difficulties that arose when I was pregnant with Lacie that for a time faced us with scary questions and hard decisions regarding my health and her life. I remember periods of time where God seemed so silent and my own voice far too loud. I remember difficulties with various friendships and relationships throughout the years, poor decisions that I made, getting through my college years and even having to walk away from an extremely toxic relationship. Even now, I am sitting here at the start of a new year and I find my thoughts to be conflicted, torn and pulled in multiple directions. There are the thoughts of all that this past year entailed…the trials of a pandemic that rocked our nation, affected my community, and altered my family in many significant ways. There were the trials that came with the changes of leaving a toxic work environment, helping my kids adjust to virtual learning and settling into a new home. There were the trials that rose up out of an abundance of change. As quickly as each of these thoughts and memories drift across my mind – there comes flooding in the current realities of today. There is anger amongst my friends and family unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed. There is disappointment, frustration, loneliness and fear in every interchange I participate in, hear or read. There is such loss. It is heavy and seemingly hopeless. Surely this isn’t the way things are supposed to be? As much as the details of each of these things remain in the shadows of my head, and the current realities of a broken world, hurting friends and unknown future scream out loudly in front of me…they all ring out the truth of John 16:33 – in this world you will have trouble.

I have been trying to reconcile this past year and the realities of this current one all while trying to be much more intentional about being in God’s Word. One of my all time favorite books of the Bible, one I am studying again currently, is the book of James. Right out of the gate James is talking trials. Allow me to take a minute to compare a few translations that demonstrate the heart of what he is trying to tell you and I at the beginning of his book. He says to ‘consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds’; ‘you will face trials of many kinds- when you do think of it as pure joy’; ‘my friends consider yourselves fortunate when all kinds of trials come your way’; and my favorite – ‘consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.’ I hear that, I read that, I clearly see it printed before me and all I can do is ask ‘how’? How on earth can something so hard be counted as pure joy?

And then God gave me this ‘for instance’ – when I was little I lived in a home that had some pretty peculiar rules. The youngest of three sisters we each had our own room – and we were each to stay in our own room. We had to ask permission to come downstairs – and that was usually only to ask a question, never to just hang out or play or watch TV.  I never learned to ride a bike, don’t remember ever playing on our swing set (though we did have one) and only once did I ever have a friend come over. We could not even be in each other’s rooms. I often say it was like we were baby dolls placed on a shelf. When my mom wanted to play with us, she’d bring us off our shelf otherwise that is where we stayed. Now for me, as a mom of four very active children – in need of interaction, quality time, affection, conversation, and fuel for their overactive dramatic minds and hearts – I am blown away by the fact that this was my childhood. When I was little, I experienced times of great sadness and loss, times of great fear and insecurity but I can also tell you that I absolutely can look back and count it all joy. I found solace in the comfort of stuffed animals. I found creativity in the multitude of coloring books and stories that filled my shelves. I found comfort in knowing that I was not alone. I see how it shaped who I am today. I remember my dependance on God. I see how it is something that now allows me grace and understanding to those who hurt similarly and it has propelled me to a different way of living.  Oddly I look back on my childhood and it looks strikingly like the swamps of Cypress Gardens. Gross, disgusting, nothing you would want to swim in and yet out of it came something beautiful.

Intrigued by the beauty of the waterlilies I saw on that field trip, I went home and ‘googled’ how they could grow in all of that yuck. Turns out – they were designed for the yuck. Rooted deep in the ground beneath the swamp waters – they rise tall and strong so that that their blossoms and their leaves come up tall above the swampy waters. For each lily pad you see on the water – a beautiful bloom was once attached.

My sweet friend, when it comes to the trials that we face in life – find comfort in the fact that we were designed to rise above these trials. We need to root ourselves into the deep soil that is Jesus Christ – and when we do, He will help us to rise tall and strong even in the most unlikely of scenarios. We have to stop looking angrily at the trials that come our way or that were our past. We have to look for how His hand held onto us. We have to realize that He is greater than _________________ – whatever that blank may say.  A great pastor, Wayne Corderio even explained it this way (and I’m merely paraphrasing) ‘sometimes we go through times of trial where instead of God lifting us over it – He grabs us by the hand and drags us right through it. Sometimes that process of dragging us on the ground is repetitive. We are battered and beaten, but even in the dragging – He never lets go of our hand.’ It is a fair question to ask…how on earth can something beautiful come from something so disgusting? Romans 5:3-5  – ‘Not only so, but also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.’ Perseverance, character, hope, endurance, and a deepened faith in Christ – each so beautiful! Yes, in this world we will have troubles…there will be trials…but we can find joy because He has overcome the world. May we rest in that promise today!

Selling a House


A4779D99-13EF-4829-82E3-D919F18E157ADid you know that sharing your faith, hope and love in Jesus is not just for the good moments? Over and over in scripture, we are told that we are going to encounter hard times, difficult moments, trials of many kinds. They aren’t quantified with a length of time, a duration of dates, or even a description defining what to expect. We are just told, both plainly and obscurely, that things are going to be tough. 

For a multitude of reasons, far too many to unfold here, this has been one of those seasons for me. Many difficult moments filled with many various trials, all strung together with head-pounding uncertainties. Among those has been our decision to move.

About a year ago, Chris began interviewing with a different company and at the start of 2019, began a new job with an entirely different kind of schedule and routine. While he travels each month, he now predominantly works out of the house. We have a small area for him to do so, but it wasn’t really designed to be used that way (converted closet with no ac/heat piped in). This coupled with the fact that when we moved to SC, Isaac was only 2 and I had only just found out I was pregnant with Lacie days before the moving van pulled out Kentucky, was something of a problem. When we moved into our current home, we had no idea that we would ultimately be blessed with four spice kids. Nor did we factor in that any amount of kids we did have would get bigger. 😉 So space in our home has maxed and a pull on our heart to move was growing. Chris and I being…well, Chris and I…realized in January that if a move was going to happen we would need a plan. We mapped out things we would need to work on, calendared it all out and then laid it down and prayed if this was what were supposed to do. From moment one, we prayed asking the Lord to help us understand if moving was something He had for us or just something we were trying to make happen. We pulled out the list, amazingly found time (and energy) to attack all of our projects and before we knew it we were ready to have our house ‘go live’. It was so clear that moving was what the Lord was asking us to do. The only problem…we had no idea where we would be going. As the months of renovations were underway, we searched, talked, argued, searched some more and slowly began to narrow in on what we were hoping for and what would work for us as a family. The Lord allowed various things to happen to help confirm that the area we had settled on was in fact the right place, but literally nothing – no house seemed to fit the bill. Until the week we went to put our house on the market. That week, the ‘perfect’ house became available. It had everything – the right school district, the right size, the right space – it was perfect, it was beautiful. We found out that the family selling that house was not going to consider any contingencies (like waiting on the buyer to sell their house) so our realtors went into action – confident in the appeal of our home they moved quickly to get our house on the market. We had visited this house on Tuesday, put our house for sale on Wednesday – and were rejected hard on Thursday. The family held true to their decision – they weren’t taking anyone with contingencies and they didn’t. Another offer came into them on that Thursday and they scooped it up. Chris and I were crushed – seriously…it was a bad day here at the Spice Rack. We were so confused. We had spent almost a year – heavily searching. This was the first real something – that just ‘happened’ to come up the week were planning to put ours up for sale? We have never said anything to each other – still haven’t really – but we both believed that was gonna be our awesome God moment in this leg of our journey. ‘I don’t get it God…why? Why dangle something in front of us that wasn’t meant for us? Why give us that glimmer of hope when that wasn’t the plan? Holy cow…why is there still a ‘for sale’ sign in my yard?’ were just a few of the things that floated through my head on repeat. We knew God was calling us to sell – He confirmed that many times. So what were we missing?

Our house went on the market on a Wednesday…within five days, we had seven showings and three offers; one that came in under asking, one right on the money, and one that actually went above the amount we had asked. Less than seven days after putting a sign in our yard, a contract was signed and wheels were in motion. And I waited. I waited for Him to drop a new house out of nowhere. I waited to have my ‘victory in Jesus’ moment to share. I waited for that ‘dream’ house’s deal to fall through. I mean come on – God wouldn’t call us to do something and then not finish that up, not give us any indication of what to do or where to go. God wouldn’t do that.  <Insert almost every Bible story in scripture>
In the last few weeks, God has allowed a home inspection to come back with minimal requests and minor money to be spent. He has allowed an inspection to take place and the house to pass that inspection – even at the higher price. He has given us a contract deal that doesn’t come to a close until December 6. It cannot be denied that God’s hand has been all over the selling of our home. And I have been completely silent about it. I haven’t openly rejoiced Him. I haven’t really even shared this with those I know. See there isn’t a completion to the story. There isn’t an answer to the repeated – and obvious question – where are you moving? So my silence has helped me avoid having to even go there.
And I have been foolish.
I have been painfully human in my fears and worries. I have been sad over silly things like toys I packed from the kids rooms that they are missing and want to play with. Sad over the question of will I be able to decorate for Christmas this year? Fearful over what happens when December 6 comes and we still don’t have a house. God calls us to praise Him even in the storm, through the worries, in the midst of the fears. He asks us to trust that He is a God who never lies. He asks us to keep our eyes on Him even when everything around us seems so unnerving. I suddenly understand how Peter started walking out to Jesus on that water just fine, but when it didn’t quite go as he thought and he saw the waves and processed what that should mean – I get why he began to sink. I understand why the other 10 spies discounted Caleb and Joshua – so focused on the enormity of the people of Ca’naan and that they said ‘no way’. I understand why Zechariah questioned a child at his age even though he had been asking for one. I get it when Moses heard God’s entire plan to set His people free and still made the request ‘please send someone else’. I understand their weaknesses and their fears. God has shown me that His hand is in all of this. He has allowed me to help my kids navigate a first hand object lesson in trusting what you cannot see and leaning not on our own understanding. He is absolutely to be praised – right now – in the middle of it all – even when it doesn’t make sense, even though there are still so many question marks. See, He allows these moments intentionally. It is easy to praise Him when it all works out. It is exciting to share Him when we have beautiful stories and sweet endings. But in the middle of the thing…where we are a hot mess, completely clueless? Yes, even then we are to praise Him, glorify Him and share Him. My biggest prayer right now is to tap into my inner Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who proclaimed, “the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us” – they were so confident – confident enough to follow that with “But even if He does not…” The God I serve has a plan for my sweet family. He has a neighborhood in mind. A mission field in preparation right now even as I type. The God I serve cares so deeply about the details of my heart…knows the fears that well up within my kids, knows the concerns that sweep over my man. He has already shown us His awesomeness in the twelve years we’ve done life within these walls. Of course, He will not leave us. He hasn’t opened this door only to slam it back on us. At the right time, in the right way, He will complete this process He has started and even in my weakest moments – I will praise Him. 
Whatever your uncertainty, your fear, your struggle, He has not left you. He is ready to help you navigate through. And though you might not have answers, though you have days where the ‘what if’s’ and ‘if only’s’ near take you down…praise Him. Praise Him for the lesson in it all. Praise Him you don’t walk it alone. Praise Him when your scared. Praise when you’re heartbroken. Praise Him when you’re angry. Praise Him when you’re lost. Praise when you’re worn slap out. Praise Him for His patience. Praise Him for His forgiveness. Praise Him for His plan. Praise Him for His love. Praise Him in the question marks. Praise Him in the silence. Praise Him through the tears. Praise Him. He has not left you. He has not brought you to this place to leave you stranded. He has a plan. He is at work. Praise Him. 

You Can Learn a Lot from a Cat

You Can Learn a Lot from a Cat

This season has been one, I pray, that my Lacie will not soon forget. She has had the unique opportunity to take her love for the stage, and experience it in a variety of venues. In an odd twist of timing she has been working on three musicals simultaneously; one through church, one through school, and one through our community theatre. Each one building on the love and pure natural desire of a girl designed to be on the stage, but each vastly different. While there is much my heart could share of the ugliness she experienced through one, and the familiarity she has enjoyed through another – it is the lessons that this mama has learned through that of a ‘cat’ that I lay out here.


  1. A peron’s a person no matter how small. IMG_4608The whole reason that we even tried out for ‘Seussical’ was purely for the experience of a ‘real’ audition. Though not at all a stranger to the stage or to the spot light – auditioning was something of an unknown. We had long conversations about it, but never followed those up with the likelihood that a part would be on the other side of that process. So when she got the role of a ‘who’ – she was over the moon. She never used words like ‘I’m only a who’ or ‘I wish I were a ______’ – she basked in the excitement to just get to be a part of the show. Every single practice…every…single…practice…she came bouncing out to the car so excited and so pumped up! I would immediately hear things like ‘you should hear Sour Kangaroo – she has THE best voice’, ‘The Cat is so great at her role, mom’, ‘You would love Gertrude – she is doing amazing’ and on and on. She was so proud of each of them…she loved them like family. The role that she herself played – she poured herself into. (Now, I acknowledge my motherly bias…but it is always hard to miss my Lacie when she’s on the stage. She beams…she radiates.) Her focus was always – ‘I am a part of something big.’ It was never the size of the part, but absolutely the love of what she was doing. Through this attitude, I found myself quickly challenged about how often I get frustrated with theIMG_4395 role that I play in this world. I fuss that I want a different part. I wish I had a few less dramatic scenes or was one that others looked to and said ‘she is my favorite.’ I’ve been challenged with the question – what if I just embraced the role I’ve been given – and simply poured myself into it? What if instead of wishing for something more or different, I encouraged those around me, and just lived excited to just get to be a part of the story.
  2. Oh the things you can think. Turns out that I was assigned a part in the musical as well; the role of hair and make-up to my sweet who. Off the cuff, I had no clue on how to do either (non-girlie girl here), but soon figured out a plan. On average, it took me about 45 minutes to create her hair and about 15 for the make-up. Then another 30 to undo it all at the end of the day. With so much time together, we soon began having beautiful heart-to-hearts, laughing together, singing loudly together, and just enjoying each other’s company in a way we hadn’t before. For the schedule our family keeps – long heart-to-hearts aren’t always likely to happen, but something so sweet was beginning to happen because of them. A few performances in though and I noticed that some of the hair on the other ‘whos’ was a bit more simple and for a hot second I re-evaluated my approach to turning Lace into a ‘who’. I could have gone more simple, I could have short-cutted easily…but oh what I would have missed out on. The thought left my head as quickly as it came and what resulted were some of the sweetest moments of conversation, laughter, connectedness and love than the two of us had really ever experienced together. We hear the word ‘shortcut’ and often think that it will be great – oh the the things that we think – but some journeys should definitely be experienced by taking the scenic route. So 275 pipe cleaners and just shy of 18 hours later – the choice to embrace ‘who’ hair was one I will never regret.
  3. Alone in the universe? As a place of honesty, I wasn’t really sure what to expect when embarking on community theatre. It was a ‘we’re about to step into the real world’ kind of feeling. Concerns over her safety, over how she would be treated, over what she might be exposed to washed over me hard, before we ever said yes to this adventure. But then I had to remember Who my ‘who’ belonged to. From the very first audition, Lacie and I talked that if she got a role in this musical it would be because God was opening a door for her. (Now from my experience, God isn’t usually in the business of cracking doors – they are either solidly closed or flung wide open. He is also not in the business of opening doors that He doesn’t intend to walk through with you.) With this in mind, I knew that no matter what she experienced it was something He had purposed just for her. Again, being honest, I was prepared for a more negative experience for her. (I did childhood theatre and will forever remember director, Una Harrison, with her wild hair, tight leather pants, 4 inch red heels, British accent and idioms, and unbendable demand for perfection. Woo!) I had several negative scenarios mapped out in my head; pep-talks were on the ready. But much like a sour kangaroo baffled by one that would think different than herself – I could never have imagined the experiences my girl would actually encounter; a cast that she would come to love as family, a bond that would deepen for the two of us or the unexpected example of Christ in the form of a cat. Yes, you read that last part correctly. At a time when Lacie has questioned how God could really love one like her…a self-proclaimed small speck in this great big world…one wired differently than those around her…one who certainly has felt alone in the universe…He brought into her world beautiful examples of a life lived in Him. He placed in front of her someone who would gently listen and sweetly encourage. Someone who would point her to Him both by example and by a few simple conversations. I say it often – but anytime you look for God, He can always be found…but even I was surprised by the way He showed up for my girl (His girl). IMG_4913

Who knew that a simple audition would unravel all of the opportunities for adventure, growth, and love for one young girl. Who knew this journey would also have so much affect on her mama. From over here in my spot in the seats, I have been challenged in my day-to-day role, challenged in my role as a mama, challenged in my relationship with the Lord, challenged that no matter what may go on behind the scenes – that what I live out is true, authentic, infectious. May I be more consumed by how I play a part in the story regardless of how many even notice that I’m in it. May I be mindful of the moments that come, not trying to blow past them, not trying to make them fit into the mold of what is quick and easy…but experiencing them in such a way that allows the story to unfold deeper and more beautifully. May my relationship with the Lord be evident and my heart always eager to share His love. This experience was beyond what I could have hoped for, for my Lacie, and one that has uniquely resonated in me.  IMG_4601

Count It ALL


I have had the distinct pleasure of being called to jury duty at least a half dozen times within the last 10 years…and yes, just got another summons a few weeks ago. I have served on several small jury’s and had an encounter just this past fall on the inner workings of a federal grand jury. I have sat in a courtroom countless times and yet regardless of the size case or the severity of the case at hand – there has always been a common thread in the reactions of those awaiting the news of whether or not they would be called to serve.

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 10.54.11 PMJury Duty. It’s funny how those two words stir such disgust in people. I was offered condolences. I was given a multitude of tips on how to get out of serving. And consistently across the board every single person made some kind of awful face at the news. My first time heading to a courthouse here in South Carolina – I put all of the warnings and advice aside, and went to fulfill my duty. And low and behold the attitudes of the people at the courthouse were even worse than those who had warned me not to go. It was a spectacle indeed. There were those overly dressed up and ready to demonstrate that they were just too important to be there. There were others who went to great pains to look awful; from their dress, to their facial expressions, to the way they sat in the chair – everything screamed – ‘you know you don’t want ME on this case’! There were those who appeared to be clueless…but didn’t seem to understand that there is a line between clueless and calculating. There were some who thought if they just looked out the window, they wouldn’t be called on as if this were high school (has that trick ever really worked even in school?). Even the lawyers and presiding judge made comments on the painfulness of this process and that it would all be over soon. I sat through that entire experience and came to one resounding conclusion…people hate trials.

It doesn’t matter whose trial it is…trials are inconvenient, stressful, painful, and hard. And yet… James, brother to Jesus, tells us to consider them pure joy. Specifically, he says Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.’  (James 1:2-4) Surely, that is a typo right? No, after checking almost every translation available they all say to consider trials as pure ‘joy’ in each one. The only differing verbiage comes from The Message and it says that we should ‘consider it a sheer gift’ – what?! Trials, a gift? A joy?

lilypadsAbout 30 min from my house is a really unique place called Cypress Gardens. It is one of the area plantations – a sweet mix of history and beauty filled with random wildlife and scenic views. Sadly it bore the brunt of some major damage in a massive flooding we had this past fall and is currently closed to the public as they try to rebuild. When I was there a few years ago I loved so much about my experience, but was overcome by the massive swamp that encompassed a huge portion of this 170 acre plantation. The swamp was edge to edge lily pads. It was ridiculous. And in many cases there seemed no break – no glimpses of the water they floated in. It was amazing. The ‘water’ was about as disgusting as you could imagine; covered in a nice thick, green, slimy film; a perfect oasis for the many alligators that I knew lay hidden beneath. Why I found this to be so remarkable were the countless waterlilies laced throughout the entire swamp. Waterlilies that were pure white, unblemished, in full beautiful bloom – gorgeous – and all I could do was ask ‘how?’ How on earth could something so beautiful come out of something so disgusting?


Intrigued by the beauty of the waterlilies I went home and ‘googled’ how they could grow in all of that yuck. Turns out – they were designed for the yuck. Rooted deep in the ground beneath the swamp waters – they rise tall and strong so that that their blossoms and their leaves come up tall above the swampy waters. For each lily pad you see on the water – a beautiful bloom was once attached.

James tells us to consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds’; ‘you will face trials of many kinds- when you do think of it as pure joy’; ‘my friends consider yourselves fortunate when all kinds of trials come your way’; and my favorite – ‘consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.’ I hear that, I read that, I clearly see it printed before me and all I can do is ask ‘how’? How on earth can something so hard be counted as pure joy?

In Romans, Paul echoes these same thoughts… Romans 5:3-5 – “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who he has given us.’

Peter later confirms…in 1 Peter 1:6-9 – “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

And just in case, we haven’t quite gotten the picture just yet…

1 Peter 4:12-13 – “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”

There is not one of us that has escaped the experience of trials. Very rarely are they a once in a lifetime thing. For myself, trials have always been an underlying reality – in a way, like the waterlily, it seems as though I too was designed for the yuck. When I was little I lived in a home that had some pretty peculiar experiences. The youngest of three sisters we each had our own room – and we were each to stay in our own room. We had to ask permission to come downstairs – and that was usually only to ask a question, never to just hang out or play or watch TV.  I never learned to ride a bike, don’t remember ever playing on our swing set (though we did have one) and only once did I ever have a friend come over. We were not allowed to be in each other’s rooms. I often say it was like we were baby dolls placed on a shelf. When my mom wanted to play with us, she’d bring us off our shelf otherwise that is where we stayed. Now for me, as a mom of four very active children – in need of interaction and quality time and affection and conversation and fuel to their overactive dramatic minds and hearts – I am blown away by the reality that was my childhood. There were times of great sadness and loss, there were times of great fear and insecurity, and the details (too great and too numerous for any retelling) were anything but beautiful. That said, I can tell you that I absolutely look back and count it all joy. I found solace in the comfort of stuffed animals. I found creativity in the multitude of coloring books and stories that filled my shelves. I found comfort in knowing that I was not alone…as my sisters each endured and struggled. Oddly I look back on my childhood and it looks strikingly like the swamps of Cypress Gardens. Gross, disgusting, nothing you would want to swim in and yet out of it came something beautiful. I am not defined by my past or my upbringing. I have no disclaimers that say ‘because of these choices, because of these trials, Sarah is this …’

As an adult, the trials simply took on new form. I can easily think of financial trials and countless trials over failing cars. I can go back to multiple times of stress and busyness that placed a strain on my marriage. I can recall difficulties that arose in my pregnancy with Lacie and the hard questions and decisions regarding her health and life. I have vivid memories of enduring a miscarriage alone in the floor of my master bathroom. I can recall a few toxic friendships and poor choices in college. I can still instantly tear up as I recall the Lord allowing everything I loved – friends, work, church, and at the time…my purpose and heart – to be ripped from me with no clear explanation. I cringe a bit at the uncertainties of job changes and the unknowns of ‘what’s next’ that even face me right now. In John 16:33, John sums it up simply ‘in this world you will have trouble…but take heart (find joy, realize the gift) I (Jesus) have overcome the world.’

My sweet friend when it comes to the trials that we face in life – find comfort in the fact that we were designed to rise above the trials. We need to root ourselves into the deep soil that is Jesus Christ – and when we have, He will help us to rise tall and strong even in the most unlikely of scenarios. We have to stop looking angrily at the trials that come our way or that were our past. We have to look for how His hand held onto us…how His hand holds us still. A great pastor, Wayne Corderio explained it this way (and I’m merely paraphrasing) ‘sometimes we go through times of trial where instead of God lifting us over it he grabs us by the hand and drags us right through it. Sometimes that process of dragging us on the ground is repetitive. We are battered and beaten, but even in the dragging – he never let’s go of our hand.’ …even in the dragging – he never let’s go of our hand!

It is a fair question to ask…how on earth can something beautiful come from something so disgusting? Perseverance, character, hope, endurance, and a deepened faith in Christ – beautiful! Thank you Lord – if this is what brings me closer to you then keep on dragging me Lord – yes, I will count it ALL joy!