You just never know.

Ever since the house blessing, I have shifted the way I see life. Instead of going through life assuming God only shows up when something good happens, I now feel God in every space, muscle, move, step, dialogue, breath, and moment. He's in it all. It's all His. And I look back on the last couple of years and feel as if I have experienced an awakening to this Truth. I type this as my two-year-old sits doe-eyed across from the television while she gnaws on her toenail, half her foot shoved contortionist-style in her mouth. Even in this what-is-wrong-with-her moment, God is here. And though I know that - I know He's everywhere, I often forget that. I find myself tra-la-la-ing or bah-humbugging through my day and then wham-o, I smack heavy and hard, face first into the take-your-breath-away God who was there all along.

And you just never know. You just never know when it's going to hit you or how or why.

For instance, a couple of months ago my parents upgraded their kitchen stove. I offered to put the old, and still very much working, stove on craigslist. I received a few leads, one of which has changed me forever.

Tasha recently moved with her young children from a women's shelter into a low-income apartment complex. The apartment management is less than managing, and Tasha has been without a stove since she moved in. She cooks all her family meals in the microwave. She found my stove post on craigslist and contacted me. I told her I would hold the stove for her, she would just have to pick it up. Except Tasha doesn't have a car, let alone a vehicle big enough to transport a stove. She said she'd ride the bus just to give me the money so that I would continue to hold the stove for her. I explained to her that the nearest bus stop is five miles away, and even if she could get here with the money, she would still need to get the stove to her apartment, eventually. That wasn't going to stop her. She was desperate. At one point she text me, "I would do anything - walk anywhere - to provide for my family. And we need this."

As you can imagine, at this point I had no intention of selling the stove to her. The stove was hers, a gift - God's provision, but we still had the issue of getting the stove to her.

I talked with Matt and we worked out a plan, thinking we could get the stove into my van, and deliver it to her over the upcoming weekend.

But before I could communicate that with her, she text me again, "Nevermind. My brother found us a stove. He is connecting it. Thank you anyway."

I text her back, praising God for the provision, and that was that. Or so I thought.

Within a day, she text me again. Except this time, it wasn't about the stove. She wanted to pray for me.


I didn't know what to do with that. Like really? Me? But. But. But you are the one who just left the shelter. You are the one living in some dump. You are the one willing to walk across the city for a stove you can't even carry home.

And you want to pray for me?

As my eyes filled with tears, I text her back. "You can pray for me. Some days I lose my temper with my kids. And I want to be more patient. Thank you. How can I pray for you?"

And that was the beginning of our friendship - our prayer-ship. Right there. Because of some stupid stove and craigslist.

You just never know.

It's been a couple of months since I met Tasha. We've still never really met, but we text often. This morning I woke to a text from her - one of my favorites so far. "Today is a day that the Lord has blessed us with so rejoice in it and give thanks to Him. Jesus loves you and so do I. Amen."

I will cherish that text. And I cherish Tasha. I've even wondered if she's real or if she's actually an angel.

Because God's in it all. Even craigslist and hand-me-down stoves.

So how is it being a mother of three?

I get this question often.

I'm a little over five weeks into this new gig, and I still don't know how to answer it.

Let me keep it real.


You've heard of pregnancy brain, right? Well a friend once told me that pregnancy brain never goes away even after you have kids. She was right. But what she failed to tell me is that with each kid, I would get dumber. Not dumber in the IQ sense but dumber in the "oh my gosh, I'm going to forget one of my kids at the grocery store" sense. And no, I haven't done that.


Here are a just a few examples of the effect my mushy brain has had on my still living and breathing family.

During my first week home with Miss Greta I left the house without the diaper bag. Twice. Two nights in a row. You'd think I would have learned the first time I left the house without the necessities of traveling with a child who poops through clothes, spits up constantly and requires an endless supply of baby wipes. Not to mention, this nursing mom doesn't go anywhere without her nursing cover. Unless I want to get my Mardi Gras on.

And just today I thought I was getting ahead of the game when I sprayed down the entire bathtub with bleach-infused 409 cleanser. I insisted that my husband bathe the kids this evening as our early summer has taken a toll under their fingernails and on the bottoms of their pigs. As I could hear my children splashing in the bathtub, it hit me. I never rinsed out the bathtub. It was still caked with bleach-infused 409. And now my precious little minis were swimming in it. Of course at the time of this realization I was nursing. So I took my baby-latched-to-boob and bolted up the stairs screaming, "Get the kids out of the bathtub!" The look my husband gave me said it all. I had lost my ever loving mind. I was showerless, spit-up stained, droopy eyed, and now running up the stairs topless while screaming. And you thought Kony 2012s Jason Russell went off the deep? He ain't got nothin' on this crazy lady.

But my husband is a gracious man. As he stared at me and all my lunacy, he knew his best bet was to scoop the kids out of the tub and not say another word.

Oh, and have you heard about the cake incident?

My dear cousin baked me a scrumptious chocolate cake for my 32nd birthday (love ya, Lis). She generously gave me the leftover cake contained perfectly in a plastic cake caddy. Finding no room to store it in my kitchen, I thoughtlessly threw it in the oven knowing I'd pull it out the next morning for breakfast (I'm 32. I can eat whatever I darn well please for breakfast, thankyouverymuch).

But I didn't. Breakfast turned into lunch and realizing my children might starve if I didn't feed them fast, I turned on the oven so that I could serve them an overwhelmed mother's dream meal: frozen pizza.

And then it happened.

You know when people ask you how you are doing after having a baby, and the cliche answer is something like, "If everybody is alive by the end of the day, then we succeeded," well those words have never rung so true as the day that I almost burned down the house because of my birthday cake.

But we are all alive and still in one piece. And no thanks to me.

Because being a mother of three ain't always pretty. In fact, it's usually very very messy. And it requires a heck of a lot more brain cells than I have left (no thanks to my early 20s).

Seriously and truly all thanks be to God. He is the only reason we are surviving. And as evidenced by these pictures, these precious little lives are worth every humbling lunatic moment I've endured and will endure.



Each year I honor Lent differently. One year I gave up Diet Coke (per my husband's suggestion - sometimes it really sucks to have someone who knows exactly what is going to hurt you the most). One year Matt & I designated days to fast and pray together, a commitment that proved all the more challenging as I was nursing at the time (nursing = HUNGRYALLTHETIME).

This year Lent is coming at the absolute most perfect time for me. I am not even two weeks into life with my third born and while I have never felt so full of love, I also feel terribly distant from God. I haven't opened my Bible in over a week, and my prayer life has taken the form of frequent cries for help from my exhaustion. I should be leaning into God now more than ever, and instead I am beating myself up for not doing all the stupid things I think I should be doing because I am sinking in the depend-only-on-myself-the-control-freak pit of quicksand.

So it's time to snap out of it. And since I am spending between 4 and 5 hours every day nursing this delightful little baby girl, I have the perfect opportunity to spend some time with my Jesus.

Here's the plan. And yes, y'all are invited to hold me accountable. Girlfriend needs a butt whoopin'.
  • I will check my personal email and facebook accounts no more than 2 times a day.
  • I will check my blog reader no more than once a day.
  • I will use my iPhone for the basics only: phone, text messaging, weather, maps, contacts, calendar, alarm.
  • I will not use my iPhone to check email or facebook. Nor will I use it to play any games.
INSTEAD, I will . . .
  • Read my Bible.
  • Pray.
  • Read my Bible app or Christianity Today app on my iPhone.
  • Read a Christian book or devotional.
  • Read one of the downloaded reading plans on my Bible app on my iPhone (YouVersion rocks).
  • Complete my BSF lessons.
It's important to note that I have put several restrictions on my iPhone usage but I have also given myself several exceptions. Reason being, my iPhone was practically made to be used while I'm nursing. When I have only one hand available, it's much easier to read on my iPhone than it is to open a book.

The two things I have not limited are the television and general Internet usage. I can honestly say that over 75% of my downtime is spent checking my email, facebook, and blogs. And much of the time I spend nursing I am simultaneously playing a game on my iPhone. Those four things need to be limited. They are the time sucks in my life. I don't watch a lot of television, and when I do, I am usually watching an episode of Parenthood or a Buckeye basketball game with my husband - it's one of the few things we do together after the kids are in bed.

Finally, we are kicking off the Lenten season today at the Catholic church down the street. We are going to get ashes as a family. It's a gorgeous church in walking distance, and it will be the perfect place to set the tone for this beautiful season of remembering Jesus and the life He gave us.

What about you? Are you honoring Lent in any specific ways?

The santa dilemma

You better watch out. Santa Claus is coming to our house.

And I'm excited about that. The Santa buzz around here is building and I'm eager to find out what that jolly ol' dude has in store for my family.

But here's the dilemma. There's a truth about Santa that some of you might already know, and some folks think that Santa's truth is getting in the way of The Truth. The Truth that is living and breathing and blossoming in my heart. The Truth that means everything to me. And Lord willing, that Truth will mean everything to my precious children.

Recently I read a post here and a post here, and believe it or not, they both resonated beautifully with me. But how can I be moved by one author who doesn't celebrate Christmas with Santa and presents while agreeing with another author who not only celebrates Christmas with Santa Claus, but get this, she flat out believes in the ol' man?! How can I hide elves humorously around my home each night while praying intensely for my dear friend whose non-Santa practicing family is sacrificially spending their Christmas loving on a country and a people who so desperately need Jesus?

I don't know.

But I do.

And for what it's worth, here's where I've landed, at least for now:

1) I love a child's imagination. LOVE. My absolute most magical memories of childhood are my daydreams and make believes. When my childhood was lonely, I dreamed and imagined up a friend of my very own. Her name was Dorothy, and I still love her. My parents never fussed at me about Dorothy. They let her have a seat at our table and they brought her a water cup along with mine. And I thank them for that, for allowing me Dorothy.

I think this is where I find Santa in all this. It's an opportunity for me to engage in my children's imaginations. If only for a few years, it will be delightful to whip up silly stories and fanciful tales about elves and reindeer and chimneys. Some might call me a liar. I call me a dreamer.

2) If I do my job right, there will be no confusion about Jesus & Santa. If I preach THE TRUTH about Jesus all year round, then what's the difference in December? There is no difference. We still celebrate Jesus in December just as we do in February and August. His miraculous and holy birth. His eternal gift of life. His grace and mercy. Definitely His mercy. It was only this morning that I pulled into our driveway and asked my children for forgiveness and we sat there, the van in park, praying and praising because God is merciful when I'm impatient and snippy and wretched. It's the week of Christmas and I'm as broken as ever. Santa might be able to deliver happiness in a wind-up toy, but only Jesus can deliver pure, undeserved joy.

In my world, we can sit on Santa's lap on Wednesday and walk through the life size nativity on Saturday. We can write a letter to the North Pole and paint a picture of the blessed nativity.
It's not an either-or. And yet the two don't get equal playing time. Jesus will always be the King of this home.

For me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

Jesus will always be the reason. The reason we breathe. The reason we love. The reason we celebrate. Santa and his shiny bells are nothing more than a fantasy that we bring to life. Jesus, He is our life. He is our heartbeat and our breath. Fantasy ain't got nothin' on our faith - our daily bread.

In a few short days, my minis will wake from their sugar-plum-filled visions to stockings full of trinkets delivered magically by a sleigh. And we will thank Jesus. Thank Him for blessing us with a loving home, warm beds, a full fridge, and precious dreams.

And don't worry. We paid Santa a visit last week. And one thing's for sure. Jesus has never received this kind of reaction from my kids.

*These pictures are from last year's Santa visit. There was only slight improvement this year. I'll share more soon.

Everything I learned about giving I learned from the tithe

Disclaimer: I have a LONG way to go before I have a good grasp on tithing and giving. I can't stress that enough.

Not quite two years ago, Matt and I made the decision to get serious about tithing and giving as neither was an area producing much fruit in our lives. I will share with you what God has revealed to us through our searching and journeying and failing and praying. Did I mention we are still learning and growing and failing? Lots of failing. Lots of humbling.
  • Let me start with the definition of tithe. Tithe literally means "a tenth part." You can give 2% or 8% but you cannot tithe it, much like you cannot call 5 eggs a dozen (great analogy, Rebecca.)
  • Semantics aside, our goal is that all of our tithes and offerings are acts of worship. This is one of the reasons I love writing the check. It helps me to stop and be aware of what I am doing, praying and praising as I write. But don't get too excited, I am guilty of treating this action just as I treat the water bill, without reverence.
  • We are called to have a steward mentality and eternal perspective. Being a good steward of God's money (and resources) involves many things (saving, investing, giving, tithing, just to name a few). Ultimately we will give an account of our lives, according to the fruit of our deeds (Jeremiah 17:10). I love this quote by Matthew Henry: "It ought to be the business of every day to prepare for our last day." Being a good steward of God's resources while maintaining an eternal perspective is where we try to position ourselves, and try as I might, I fail miserably at this all the time.
  • I want to share a quote from Randy Alcorn's book Money, Possessions and Eternity. He does a good job of helping me understand how the tithe applies to my life today in the era of grace. "[Tithing] is a meaningful expression of dependence on God and gratitude to him. Tithing requires calculation. When we deal specifically with the amounts God has provided, we assess God's goodness to us . . . Tithing was, and can still be, a built-in reminder at every juncture of life of our unlimited debt to God." Dontcha just love that?
  • The tithe (10%) will always remain non-negotiable for our family (Please don't read this as legalism. I pray you understand that this is what God has revealed to OUR family. I'm not implying this is what God commands for you. That's between you and Jesus.) In the Old Testament, the tithe was the starting point for giving (I love the passage in Exodus 36 when the Israelites were actually restrained from giving materials to build the tabernacle because they had given more materials than needed!) The model of paying back to God His firstfruits was the tithe, and as I've studied the OT, I found that it was more than paying 10% off the top. There were actually multiple tithes required of the Jews - their tithes and offerings well exceeded 10% (Deuteronomy 14). In the New Testament, every example of giving goes beyond the tithe. The way I see it, there is no evidence for less than 10% of giving anywhere in the Bible. For us, the tithe is a base figure. It is merely a starting point for our giving.
  • Can tithing be legalistic? Of course. As can any other spiritual discipline. The dangers don't only include legalism, but also complacency. When we view tithing (or church attendance or volunteering) as a box to be checked, we've missed the point completely. But when we approach tithing (and giving, among other things) with prayer and a worship-filled heart, we put ourselves in a space to receive the eternal and internal blessings that God promises to those who honor Him (The story of the rich young man in Matthew 19 is one of my favorites. He's promised eternal reward for giving to the poor, and it is in this passage when Jesus tells His disciples that they will receive a return of hundredfold for their sacrifices.)
  • I have to wonder what it communicates to God when we don't tithe, when we don't give him the firstfruits of His provisions? I think that is when we begin to say, "God, you can't handle all my needs, not to mention my debts and loans and the demands of this crappy economy. You can't handle it, but I can." What if instead we said to God, "I don't know how this is going to all work out, but I trust that you will provide. Therefore I give you the firsts of this paycheck, before I pay a single bill or make a single purchase." This is also a good space to pray that God shows you what is (and what is not) a need, not to mention showing you ways that you can save money when you didn't think there would be enough - this is an area where God has humbled me big time. I sometimes feel like Veruca Salt, spatting, "I want an Oompa Loompa! I want an Oompa Loompa now!" I so deserve her fate, a bad egg who is dropped down the garbage chute. But God's mercy is so good. In time, I find myself getting used to life without the coveted Oompa Loompa, ultimately experiencing contentment with less.
  • To the point of being able to give like no one else, my suggestion: start with the tithe. Start with the building blocks that are revealed in God's Word. And then don't stop. Continue to ask God to stretch your dollar, your heart, and your pocketbook. Not for you, but for the blessing of giving.
  • I so appreciate the comment from my dearest friend Mary Kate. She said, "I cling too tightly to my 10% tithe, because giving it all can seem terrifying." I can SO relate. The tithe isn't my ticket to spend the other 90% on whatever I damn well please. It's not for me to clear my conscience, so to speak. All - all 100% - belongs to God. I don't get to do whatever I choose with any of it. The 10%, the 90%, the 100% - it's all His. And it's His to do with as He pleases.
He who has God and everything has no more than he who has God alone. - C.S. Lewis

The spirit of giving?

I know I'm about to step on all sorts of total-money-makeover toes, but my heart is unsettled and twisted so here it goes. I'm not a big Dave Ramsey fan. But before you throw your shredded credit cards at the computer, I praise the Lord for the many many people who Ramsey has helped snowball their way out of suffocating debt. And I mean that.

Okay, so here's my beef. For starters, I can't quite wrap my head around the live like no one else so that you can live like no one else philosophy. Does Ramsey mean for us to live like no one else TODAY (by driving a junker and shopping Goodwill) so that during our retirement years (whatever those are) we can live more comfortably? luxuriously? Or does Ramsey encourage folks to live like no one else TODAY so that when they reach eternity, they can live like no one else? The latter might be more Biblical, sort of, but is that what Ramsey is saying? I get the sense that he means the former, and that is where he loses me. It is in that concept where our culture has interfered with Biblical Truth. God doesn't motivate people to live simply or frugally so that one day they can live a grandiose lifestyle. Our culture tells us that's how it should go, but that's not God's way.

Secondly, I don't agree with his seven steps to financial peace (and can someone please define financial peace?) The steps begin with building an emergency fund and are followed by getting out of debt, saving, investing, saving for college, paying off your home, and then building wealth. Building wealth is step 7a. Step 7b? Oh you know, that thing that we're supposed to do . . . um, um, oh right . . . giving. You know, that act of being Jesus to the world that we are commanded to do over and over and over and over and over again. At least that's the way it goes in my Bible.

Look, I'm not discrediting that there is Biblical support for saving and investing, in fact, each of the seven steps on their own are valid. But who is to say that God wants each of us to follow them in that order? And the God I know would never ever ever put giving last (after building WEALTH?!) That's just not the Jesus I know. (I realize that Ramsey puts tithing up at the front. It's not one of his seven steps, but he absolutely prioritizes it. But tithing and giving are two separate issues, and to my disappointment, too many believers aren't doing either one. For what it's worth, tithing means 10%. Tithing is not monthly leftovers or an arbitrary number. It's 10%. That's what a tithe literally means. You can't tithe 3%. That's giving 3% and calling it 10%. That's lying. Okay, I needed to get that off my chest, phew).

All that to say, I don't know why I was surprised recently when I saw on Dave's facebook page that he is promoting a Give Like No One Else challenge. My initial thought: Awesome! Seriously, now that's what I'm talking about. At least that's what I thought. Until I clicked on the link. And realized that in conjunction with the giving challenge are cash and prize giveaways. Dude, are you serious?!

Why oh why oh why is it necessary to motivate giving with materialistic reward? It's as if he's saying, "Hey, the Bible teaches that the true spirit of giving produces eternal fruit, but who needs eternal rewards when you can win a Kindle right now?"

And before you get me all wrong, it's not about the money or the stuff. For heaven's sake, I'm one of the wealthy ones! It's about the heart. It's not about the car or the square footage or the label. It's about our grip. And that's where we've screwed it all up as Christians. We're too busy pointing fingers at so-and-so's such-and-such when we ourselves can't get past a toilet-submerged iPhone or the collapsing economy of the richest damn country in the world. Relative to someone else, we all have too much. Yes, you. And me. But it's not the too much. It's the letting go. If God asked his faithful servant Abraham to sacrifice his long-awaited and only son Isaac, you better believe he wants you to let go of your insert-most-treasured-earthly-possession-here. It's not the I-saved-for-5-years-to-own-the-car-of-my-dreams that matters. It's that if God speaks to your heart to sell your precious wheels and do something else with those resources, would you? Could you? Without hesitation? It's all a matter of the heart. It's holding loosely to our money and stuff knowing that at any moment, God might have other plans.

Because let me tell you, following Jesus doesn't come with health and wealth. That's a crock, and a sickening one, if you ask me. Remember Paul? He followed Jesus nearly to his death by stoning. He traveled BY FOOT hundreds and hundreds of miles to share the Gospel, without earthly possessions. All he had was faith, and that is all he ever needed. And that's all you and I need no matter how badly we want to convince ourselves that we need or deserve or own x,y, and z.

So why do we have such a gosh-darn hard time giving selflessly and sacrificially? Why do we need earthly incentives when that is not the Gospel? Why are we consumed with establishing financial peace when our dependency should never ever ever ever be on ourselves?

And that is my biggest beef with the Dave Ramsey culture. How can we put ourselves in a position to trust God with every single penny He has bestowed to us if our goals are retirement funds and college savings? There is only one goal that matters, and it's going to manifest differently for each of us. That goal is glorifying God with the resources He has given us (and He gives to each of us separately and differently). It is finding contentment no matter if we are climbing our way out of debt or sitting on a hefty cushion of savings. It's trusting God when He tells us to save or buy or let go or liquidate or sell or give or give or give or GIVE. It's praying over every check we write and through every payday. It's turning to Scriptures before we turn to a so-called financial guru.

And let me tell you, I'm just as big a failure as the next guy. I make greedy, selfish choices every. single. day. Without fail. My flesh craves Target and Pottery Barn clearance and a black Range Rover with tinted windows. I am human, watch me spend. But God is BIGGER. He continues to stir in me a love for giving because it glorifies HIM. And for every day that my lifestyle doesn't match the one I deem more comfortable, He blesses me with something internal (and eternal) such as His peace. His comfort. His contentment.

I hesitate to even post this because I'm just as big a hypocrite as anybody else. I suck at letting go of a certain appendage better known as my MacBook Pro (among other things), and I'm really good at pointing fingers at that family with the heated driveway (or worse yet, coveting that heated driveway everyday during the month of February).

But God has brought me a long way. And I have faith that if I continue to lean into Him, He will continue to do a good work in me. I want to take this amazingly blessed life that He has given me and turn it all over to Him. And as I stumble in big fat ugly ways throughout this journey, I can only pray that I develop a greater sense of what it means to depend on Him. And I don't ever want to fall out of love with giving from my heart for His sake and not my own selfish motives.

So hear me out. This isn't about Ramsey. I clicked on what I thought was going to be an encouraging link about giving and was terribly disappointed. And I was reminded that much like my two-year-olds favorite exclamation is "Mine!" we are all in desperate need of a reality check. I pray that more people turn to God for financial direction and are filled with a desire to give for one reason and one reason only, because He first gave to us. And for that we can never give too much.

I love to study.

I began studying the Bible a few months ago. Like really studying. Intensely. Reading each verse accompanied by commentaries and translations and original text - learning the context and the history and the language.

It has been one of the most life changing efforts in my entire life. I imagine you think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not. Up until very recently, I thought the Old Testament was way too complicated and had little relevance in my awesomely hip 21st century life. And the New Testament? Well it's all about love and Jesus and disciples and a crazy whack book called Revelations and that's all you need to know about that, right? But wow, I was so so so so so wrong.

I'm only three books into my study (Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus) and I have never been so in love with three books in my entire life. Can you even imagine my love when I get to the New Testament? I can hardly stand the wait.

I mention this only because since I started studying the Bible I find myself yearning for the next chance to read and study. But it's not as simple as opening the Bible. I require physical space to study - for writing (I write all over my Bible) and note taking and journaling and space for a computer open to online commentaries (Biblos and Precept Austin are two of my best friends). So finding time to actually study the Bible isn't as simple as it might seem. But the longing I feel as I wait for the next chance to study is such a precious gift. It's indescribable. I'm constantly hungry for more God. More of His Word. More of His teaching. And that in itself has changed who I am.

I'm most at peace when I'm in His Word. Actually hearing it. Allowing it to speak to me. And when something doesn't make sense or doesn't sit well, I become a scavenger, hunting for the context or history or language to make the pieces of the puzzle come alive. And I am so blessed to live in this era with hundreds of websites and resources at my disposal. Sure, I find myself reading commentaries from folks of different theological backgrounds, but it is beautiful to read diverse teachings from folks who have one thing in common: a desire to better know God. It is in those moments that I find myself deep in prayer, that God would speak Truth to me through His Word - not theories or educated guesses. Truth and nothing less.

If you have never actually studied God's Word, I highly encourage it. Start with Genesis. It is by far the most exciting book I have ever read. Seriously, I have a love affair with Genesis like you wouldn't believe (I spent an entire day on the first two verses. It was heavenly). And just study it. Word for Word. Verse for Verse. It will bless you in ways you cannot imagine.

And let me know about it, please? I'm not only hungry for more God, but I'm hungry to connect with others who share this passion.

And for those of you who have done a formal Bible study, such as BSF (Bible Study Fellowship), what do you think? I registered for BSF and will begin in the fall, but I'm not sold. One of its greatest selling points for me is the childcare. Supposedly it's stellar. And that's the biggest obstacle for me as I study God's Word. It's hard to study when I have two adorable toddlers climbing on me. I love the idea behind BSF, but I also like the freedom that comes with studying at my own pace. I like setting my own rules, and when rules are presented, I often enjoy breaking them, and I wonder how I'll fit into a program that carries its own set of expectations. My attitude going into it is that I'm simply learning God's Word - it's a learning journey. I'm not looking to make friends or engage in therapeutic conversations. I simply want to better understand the Bible. I think I'll enjoy BSF if that remains my attitude. What do you think?

So what about you? Do you study the Bible? And if so, what are your favorite Bible study resources? Please share!

What God Moments?

Here is what I wrote in my journal on Wednesday:

Harper is on day five of the flu. We've cleaned up vomit and laundered its victims more times than I can count. I've never seen her so sick. The week opened with days worth of plans and obligations but now my iCal sits empty. I can't let go of the worry that consumes me as I watch her suffer. Not to mention my own exhaustion. It's pushing me to the brink. My faith is flailing. I haven't left the house since I don't know when. I want to see the God moments in all of this but my head is foggy and my anxieties are high. All I see are demons.

It's now Friday, and while Fridays usually don't mean much considering each day spills into the next, I am thankful for Friday. My daughter is healthy, my family is healthy, and a gorgeous weekend is ahead of us.

In retrospect, God was here this past week, His Presence all around us. He protected my sweet son, my precious husband, and even me from the ugly virus that I know satan wanted us to suffer. God healed my daughter and returned her spunk. He showered us with support from kind friends and my always selfless family. And most importantly, He humbled me. He brought me to a place where I could only depend on Him for each waking minute. My body was zombified. My mind drunk with sleep-deprivation. I was a basket-case but God had mercy on me.

As I reread what I wrote on Wednesday, I realize it was a bit dramatic. Harper only had the flu, after all. But you couldn't have told me that in the moment. And strangely, I'm thankful that it was so hard for me. It took me to a place that I needed to go, a place of desperate intimacy with the God who pulled me out of the pit. And He gave me an even greater appreciation for His gifts - my beautiful and healthy children.

Had I not taken this journey, I might have responded differently today when my daughter threw a royal fit - flailing her body to the ground, face slammed into the dirt, remnants of asphalt jammed into her forehead. Normally I might have wanted to give up. How do you console a little girl who is acting possessed? But giving up didn't even cross my mind. My daughter was healthy enough to act completely awful, and that same grace God showed me this week overcame me as I loved my daughter through her utter tantrum.

My precious daughter, sicker than sick.

Thank you, Jesus! She's back.

God moments are always there. But you must open your eyes to see.

James 1:2-4

Turns my darkness into light

2 Samuel 22:29
The Lord turns my darkness into light.

So I have to tell y'all, I have been BLOWN away by your responses to my last post. I had no clue - no clue at all - that I would receive that kind of love.



Wowy Zowy.

It's been such a tug-and-pull. As the comments came in on the blog and facebook (and even more in my inbox), I thought, "Wait, I just told the world that I suck as a mom, and no one hates me?"

Honestly, I think I expected children's services to knock on my door. It took a lot to hit publish on that post - a lot of second-guessing and doubting and fearing and wincing.

And before I could even think about taking it all back I received a huge outpouring of love that I was not prepared to receive.

I spent the day sort of dazed, thinking - God, you love me even though I can act like a monster? I don't even know some of these amazing people, and they're telling me that I am not alone. I do not deserve this. Not at all.

And what was even more precious is that just as the doubts came pouring back to me (these folks just feel bad for you, Ali, that's all . . . they can't really relate, they just want to make you feel better, Ali . . . they're all judging you, you idiot) God showed me even more love than I could handle.

Not only did He bless me through y'all, He blessed me with a really awesome "mom" day. On the heels of a crap-crap-crappy day and a big-fat-I-suck blog post, God showed me that each day is new and His mercies are everlasting. I couldn't even tell you what was different about that new day. Maybe the kids actually were better behaved. Or maybe God just packed me full of unlimited patience and peace. Whatever it was, it was God - working through me and YOU - your love, support, and encouragement sent me straight to cloud nine. How can I ever thank y'all?!

It was one simple day of refreshment, and it was EXACTLY what my soul needed.

And since then, it hasn't been all peaches and cream. Just this morning there have been too many time-outs to count and an embarrassing amount of swear words erupting from under my breath.

I am constantly surrendering to a power that is way bigger than I can even fathom. And because God is so darn good, He is quick to hug me to the point of tears just as fast as He gives me a swift and necessary kick in my rear when I need it.

I continue to be humbled by y'all. And my kids relentlessly show me that I have a lot of growing up to do.

Thank you for coming alongside me through this amazing yet often impossible journey of motherhood.

Now cut out this virtual silliness and get over here and give me a great big hug.


There is a dark side.

I initially started this blog because I don't scrapbook and yet I wanted to keep the memories we are creating as a family. My posts are usually positive & light-hearted. But there's an entirely different side of memories that I don't blog about. Frankly, I'm ashamed because they are dark and who wants to relive the darkness.

I am a mother. More specifically, Monday through Friday I spend 11 nonstop waking hours parenting two toddlers all on my own. And during the course of that 11-hour day, I screw up royally and often.

And though the screw-ups sometimes outweigh the parenting successes, I don't blog about them.

I didn't blog about the times I screamed so loudly at my kids that I'm certain my neighbors heard me.

Or the time I chucked the kids' beloved truck out the back door because I could no longer tolerate the fighting.

Or the time I cupped my son's face so tightly that I couldn't stop staring at his cheeks for fear I had left a mark.

Or the time I let my daughter throw her body on the floor, wailing because I wouldn't pick her up, because I was too flustered in my attempt to make dinner.

Or the times I pushed my kids away as they crawled into my lap to read a book because I was too engrossed in an email or worse yet, facebook.

Or the times I have physically walked out the front door because I was certain that if I heard one more child cry, I would surely lose it.

If it sucks for you to read my failures, trust me, it really sucks for me to type them. Sucks. Sucks. Sucks.

Just yesterday I pulled my kids into my lap and apologized profusely for losing my temper. Sweet Henry looked at me and said, "Temper? It's lost? Is it on your back? Where did it go, mommy?" I nearly cried at his innocence and yet I wanted so badly for him to understand that I was sorry.

He'll get it eventually. It certainly won't be the last apology he hears from me.

And fortunately for me, I have Jesus.

Seriously, truly, I don't know how to do this job without Jesus. Every minute of everyday I get to start fresh. Last night, after a rough day, I went for a jog (Thank you, Matt, for allowing me that time. You are such a gift to me.) As the sun went down, in 20 degrees along ice-covered sidewalks, I was overwhelmed with emotions knowing that my God will restore all the crap that I create as a mother. He adores my kids even more than I do (how is that even possible?) and when I screw up and act like a lunatic, the Lord fills my home with grace and mercy, blessing each of us amidst the mess of our lives.

I am so far from a perfect mother. And yet God knows that I am the best mother for Henry and Harper. And so when I fail and fail and fail, God forgives me and renews my soul so that I can turn around and show my children love even when I would rather crawl into a hole covered in shame.

Henry & Harper, there are not enough words to tell you how much you two mean to me, and there will never be enough I'm sorry's to make up for all the mistakes I made, am making, and will make.

And thank you Jesus. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you.