Monday, March 31, 2014

What if?

For about five days now I've had my next blog post swirling around in my brain. And quite frankly I can't stand it when this happens to me sometimes! I'm just being honest...

I was driving down the road and heard the song What if? by Nicole Nordeman.  I started to dissect the lyrics. And when I did there was this rush of urgency that came over me. Someone needs to read this...

Her song starts off like this:

What if you're right?
And he was just another nice guy
What if you're right?
What if it's true?
They say the cross will only make a fool of you
And what if it's true?

What if he takes his place in history
With all the prophets and the kings
Who taught us love and came in peace
But then the story ends
What then?

There are SO MANY people that go through my head when I hear this song. So many wonderful, smart, beautiful, gracious, loving people that I am acquaintances with who don't really know The Lord. And I love these people. I love them dearly. I pray for their lives and souls to just open up...

Then I want to jack them up in the name of Jesus. 


I can't even explain it. I envision myself shaking them and throwing water on them yelling WAKE UP! WAKE UP!! And they come alive out of the horrible dream they are living in. 

Then I snap out of it and realize they probably want to do the same to me! If you don't believe and haven't received the Lord then your capability to love and show grace is not on the same level as love filled with the Holy Spirit. 

So. Now what? 

How do you reach someone who is lost? But they don't know they're lost? 


I, me, personally, can't reach anyone. But Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit can move mountains. And I pray DAILY that someone who is doubting or wavering or even just plain lost is sparked by the hue that comes from my body...

If you can't see the Holy Spirit alive in me as I live my day to day life than I might as well not even claim to know His power or love. 

And if I'm not...then you better call me out on it! I'm not even kidding. How could I write this stuff and then not "walk the walk".  There are no double standards here. No ma'am. 

I think of those who don't know the Lord and the next verse of her song plays over and over and over in my head...

But what if you're wrong?
What if there's more?
What if there's hope you never dreamed of hoping for?
What if you jump?
And just close your eyes?
What if the arms that catch you, catch you by surprise?
What if He's more than enough?
What if it's love?

Seriously. What if you're wrong? What are you losing (besides control) if you surrender your life to Christ? You lose eternal darkness and fear. It is replaced by HOPE. When you have Jesus in your life you always have HOPE. 

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13

You lose NOTHING when you seek the Lord but you gain EVERYTHING. 

There is an ancient philosopher named Blaise Pascal. He wrote a collection of thoughts that in summary titled Pascal's Wager. What if you read his wager & it was the catalyst that opened your eyes to believing in Truth?!? While I don't agree with everything he ever wrote he hits the nail on the head here...

Pascal says, "I should be much more afraid of being mistaken and then finding out that Christianity is true than of being mistaken in believing it to be true."

Of course it is SO MUCH MORE than just wagering. It's a relationship.  With Jesus.

It isn't all whimsy and twirly and rosy...but when the days get long and the burdens are heavy then you have a resting place. You have a comfort like no other. Nothing earthly can compare to the feeling of the Holy Spirit filling your body. 

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

You know that nagging feeling you get when something isn't right with your kid? Or that weird sensation you feel when you're listening to a song that just really moves you? Or what about how your heart swells to the point of exploding when you look at your sweet babies sleeping at night. 


What if you allow yourself to feel and think and dig...

What if you dig
Way down deeper than your simple-minded friends
What if you dig?
What if you find
A thousand more unanswered questions down inside
That's all you find?
What if you pick apart the logic
And begin to poke the holes
What if the crown of thorns is no more
Than folklore that must be told and retold?

And after you dig you think....ok, now what? Crap. 

Here's the cool part. 

Just receive His love. It's free. You do NOTHING to earn it. It is given without strings attached. Never failing. Relentless. 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8

Do you feel like you're constantly running? Or treading water? Are you just trying not to drown? Listen, I feel you. I do. And just because I love the Lord doesn't mean I never feel that way. But what I do feel instead is relief. I can take those feelings and throw them at God. He takes them and works it all out. Christ has it all figured out and GOOD GRAVY that is comforting. And He works everything for our good. I'm so NOT EVEN KIDDING. 

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Seek Him. Find Him. Receive Him. Let Him run wild with your life and as you surrender to His love and grace and His plans you'll find reprieve. 

Rest. In Jesus.

Are you tired? Have you been running so hard in the opposite direction that you can't even get the breath to turn your head around and look over your shoulder? 


Turn around. 

Receive His love and rest.

You've been running as fast as you can
You've been looking for a place you can land for so long
But what if you're wrong?


What if you're wrong?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Beautiful Thing: In Memory of Our Aunt Judy

I am sad today, having heard that my Aunt Judy passed away this afternoon after a long battle with cancer and other health issues. Long is a relative word. While she has suffered over the course of a few years, it doesn’t really matter. A few weeks or a decade with cancer is too much. Too long. Too painful. Too hard. Too mind-bending. Too hope-raising and then hope-dashing. Too expensive. Plus an infinite amount of more.

My younger years were full of family time. Weekends and holidays were spent with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. We knew too much about each other. Good families usually do. I can tell you that my Aunt Judy suffered her share of demons. And heartaches. And she made her share of bad choices. Haven’t we all? Maybe some, more so than others. But people are messy. Life is messy. And God knows this. That’s why he gave us families to hold us up through it all.

The thing I get to remember today though is the beauty in Judy's life. Beauty is a big deal. First, Judy was the mother of Shannon. A dimpled little pigtailed thing, she stole hearts throughout the family. The first child, first grandchild, and better yet...first precious little girl...she was more than enough. (And you still are.) Little cousins came along who idolized her and the family grew in size and in heart.

As hearts grow, after finding Judy's love of her life, Art, they decided to have a baby. As couples do. But things didn’t go well which led to more heartbreak. Thankfully, she and Art had the strength to think outside of the box. To think globally. And by globally, I mean that quite literally. One spring day Judy flew to the Philippines on her own and came back with a four month old baby boy. Her first time on a plane, she crossed the world to do a beautiful thing.

Andy, the love and sacrifice made by your mother and father to bring you here is nothing less than inspiring. Not only because it was expensive and hard and confusing…but because it was visionary. Overseas adoptions were not unheard of during the 80’s, but they were not the norm. Especially not in a little town in Virginia that was nearly as vanilla as a bowl of pudding. Your grandfather thought you were Indian. And he meant well. “Beautiful people, the Indians,” he would say. “Philippino,” we would correct him. But when he held you, we saw teeth. Whenever he flashed those, we all knew he was happy. He loved you, brown skin and all.

Father of orphans, champion of widows, is God in his holy house. God makes homes for the homeless, leads prisoners to freedom...  ~Psalm 68:5-6 (MSG)

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. ~ Matthew 18:3-5

I have no doubt that she was welcomed into Heaven today.
Shannon and Andy: Your mother, my dad’s sister, our Nanny’s daughter…did a beautiful thing in this world. I know that you are thankful. But also know that we are thankful. All of us. Because we can always look back and say, “She was so strong.” For that moment in time, she was powerful enough, she listened to God just enough, to change the trajectory of a life. Yours, yes. But also ours. Tonight we can celebrate that and remember her.


The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. ~ Psalm 34:18 (NIV)

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ~ Lamentations 3:21-23 (NIV)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

He changed everything.

This sweet, kind, spiritual soul had a birthday this past week. He's my first born and is like his Momma in so many ways...

I can't believe he is nine. When he was born I was so young. And clueless. Clueless about so many things. Of everyone we know I was the one ready to have a baby! So maternal and nurturing. Then, this baby came out and I was like...who the heck are you?!?!

He brought forth my lifelong dream to reality. But when he got here I wasn't so sure I knew what to do as a Mom. All my life I just KNEW I would be a good mom. Then, I was a mom. And I wasn't a good one at all (at least for the first 3 months of his life).  I didn't bond with him right away. I loved him. I was enthralled by him. But I didn't know what to do with him?!? He cried A LOT. He wouldn't nurse. He was...


Now it's funny. But in the moment it was NOT.

My mom broke her elbow the day after we came home from the hospital. SO, she came to stay with us so we could help her. Ummmm...

That woman was up THE NEXT morning mixing muffins with her left hand trying to take care of us. US!!! (we were pretty pitiful).

I'd like to say that having this sweet first born G-man made me grow up. Through his first year of life Kdog and I went from a young couple who were selfish and lazy to a young couple who grew deeper in love with each other and learned compromise.

Having a baby forces you to compromise.

It slings you into this place where if you don't give some of yourself up then everything else around you falls apart.

When I realized this and really internalized it I started to see the parallel between being a parent and having an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. When you surrender your life to Christ your old self is gone and your new life begins...

When you become a parent you have to give over your old life. You must start a new life as it begins raising a child.

Your relationship with Christ is to be a commitment that Jesus said: '...deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me...' Matthew 16:24

Being a parent requires us to deny ourselves of a lot of things.

Let me just list a few:
1. sleep
2. privacy
3. time to yourself whenever you please
4. sleep
5. relaxing vacations
6. long leisurely walks in the park
7. sleep
8. boredom
9. clothes that don't have stains
10. sleep

Seriously though...

I''m not saying when you become a parent your entire life stops. You still have to focus on the relationship that created this child. Nurture your marriage. Work at your marriage. Tend to it...pick out the weeds (because if overgrowth occurs it's going to cost A LOT more to make the flowers bloom again if you get what I'm saying...).

We have always said that there is just "something about G-man." He has this spiritual understanding and comprehends much more about Jesus than I did when I was nine. This kid is kind hearted and sensitive. He's also really intense. He's such a people pleaser that I sometimes find myself pleading with him to understand that sometimes people fail. And it's ok!!!

Sometimes I wish I could fly back in time and love him all over again as a baby. When you're a new mom you can't enjoy all the little moments as much as you do when you've had an entire litter. He was the sweetest baby. Chubby, fluffy hair and loved to be rocked (which I didn't appreciate then either. I mean, who wants to sit and rock a baby ALL DAY?). GAH!!! What I wouldn't do to be able to just sit. SIT. Sit and rock my baby all day...but once you have more than one...

Being able to learn from these phases of life is what it's really all about.

Are you learning from your life?

Or are you just living your life?

Becoming a mom made me grow up.  It forced me to take my self centered, calorie counting, insecure, jealous, paranoid life and lay it down at the foot of the cross where my Savior died so I could LIVE.


Loving a child is as close as it gets to experiencing Christ's love for us this side of heavens gates.

My first born changed everything.

He changed the way I viewed Jesus' love for me.

I would give every ounce of myself to my kids. And no matter what they do in life I will love them just the same. There is no way to stop the love I feel for my children. It is UNSHAKEABLE.


That is a fraction of what the Lord's love for us is like. He loves us more than we can even imagine. More than the love we feel for our children.  He loves us when we are jealous, petty, unthankful, rebellious...


It's real.

It is freaking real!!!!

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. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:5-8 NIV)

This kid, that entered my world on a cold snowy day in February, changed my life. He saved me from just living my life. His sweet little face and full head of hair opened my eyes to what the love of Christ really is...

Pure. Relentless. Free. 

"The great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His (God's) love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him." C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

God is relentlessly pursuing you whether you believe it or not. He desires for you to surrender up your life and accept His love that is free...

Monday, March 3, 2014


A four act play. That actually happened in my house last night.


Mother is sleeping soundly in her bed. Father bustles in with their five and a half year old daughter, hand in hand.

Father: Murmer...murmer...murmer...(something unintelligible...)


Father: Mother, Daughter is awake. She came

Mother (groggily): Ok, get in bed with me, Daughter.

*Daugher climbs into Mother's side of bed.*

Daughter: I need water on my stomach.

Mother: (groggily) Hmmm?

Daughter: I feel bad in my chest and I need water on my stomach.

Mother: Ok, we can get some water.

Daughter: No. I need to go potty.

Mother: Ok, go potty in the bathroom.

*Mommy Senses kick in and Mother bolts upright. Immediately locates emergency puke bucket in the dark and dumps out books. Runs to bathroom door.*

*Footsteps from inside the bathroom stop and make a U-turn.*

Daughter: Mom, I just need you to hug me!

Mother: Not yet! Here! Lean over this!

Daughter: PUUUUUUKE!!


Father: Go to the toilet!

Mother: No! She's doing great! It's all in the bucket! (to Daughter) Stay right here!

Daughter: This is horrible. (arm flourish over forehead) I don't like this. PUUUUKE!!

Mother: I know. But you did a great job! Dont' get your hand in it. Put your hands down. You got it all in the bucket!

Daughter: Mom?

Mother: Hmmm?

Daughter: YOU. ARE. AWESOME! I have to pee.

*Mother smiles and hands puke bucket to father with directions to wash it out and return.*

*Father mumbles something under his breath.*

Daughter: FATHER! YOU. ARE. AWESOME. TOO! (to Mother) Does puking make you have to pee?

Mother: Sometimes.


Daughter: This tastes terrible. (with arm flourish over mouth)

Mother: We'll get a little something to drink in a second. Let's finish up here.

*Daughter walks to sink to wash hands.*

Daughter: Mom, I need you to hug me right now.

*Mother goes to hug Daughter...but stops. Grabs well-timed return of bucket from Father and shoves it under Daughter's chin.)

Daughter: PUUUUUUKE!

Father: This is going to be a long night.

Mother disappears briefly to enter absence from school online and to request a substitute for tomorrow.

Father gets water for Daughter. All three settle into the bed as best they can with puke bucket close by on the nightstand.



3:30 a.m.

Daughter: *cough cough*

*Mother bolts upright. Grabs puke bucket. Shoves it under Daughter's chin.

Daughter: My back hur....PUUUUUKE!!

Mother: You're doing great! You got it all in the bucket again! I'm so proud of you!

Daughter: (dramatically) Why do people have to throw up? This is ridiculous. I hate it. I'm so sorry to say hate but is it ok to say hate about puking?


Mother: It's ok for today. Just don't say it about anything else.

Daughter: I hate puking. This is miserable! (hands flourished out to each side)

*Father brings in wet cloth to wash off Daughter's face. Daughter sips water. Everyone lays back down.*

Daughter: Puking DOES make you have to pee. I have to pee again.

*Mother and Daughter make a trip to the bathroom, wash hands, and return to bed. Daughter crawls into the middle of the bed.*

Mother: Honey, let Mother get into the middle so you can stay on the side.

Daughter. But Mother what if I FALL OUT OF THE BED?

Mother: You've been sleeping on this side for the last hour or so. You'll be ok, I won't let you fall out. It's much better if you're close to the puke bucket.

Daughter. (holds up hand) I case I puke again. (dramatically) WHY does this have to happen to me?


Father: Woah, that's a big one.

*Father kindly removes puke bucket for rinsing and comes back with wet wash cloth.*

Mother: It happens to everyone once in awhile.

*Mother and Daughter join Father again and attempt to go to sleep. They are briefly successful*



5:30 a.m.

Daughter: My heart is running fast!

*Mother, once again, uses her cat-like reflexes to reach across Daughter to grab puke bucket and shove it under Daughter's chin.

Daughter: PUUUUUKE!! (to Mother) Now I know the signal. When my back starts hurting and my heart is running fast, it's time to puke.

Mother: This is a breakthrough. I'm proud beyond...

Daughter: PUUUUKE!! I just don't know why this keeps happening.

*Rinse. Sip water. Wipe face. Lay back down.*

*Mother sneaks away to write lesson plans and email them to school. Returns thirty minutes later to a sleeping Father and Daughter.*



Light creeps into the bedroom and Mother never really goes back to sleep. Son enters around 7:00 a. m., wondering why Daughter was not upstairs in her bed.

Daughter: Do NOT touch me! (arms out) I still like you but I PUKED!

Son: Oh. Ok.

Daughter: When you get to school, be sure to tell my teacher that I puked. And try to tell ALL of my friends. (double hand flourish) Also, you can tell all of your friends, too. (additional double hand flourish) Tell them I puked THREE TIMES. Ok?

Son: Ok. What's for breakfast?

Mother: Not sure yet. We'll all be eating light today....