Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Strength For Today...

During my devotion time this morning, I glanced back at my journal during our mission trip to Guatemala. The following excerpt was taken from Thursday, June 7th.
This has been a good trip so far. I keep thinking about the bible verse that says, “‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.i” How true that has been on this trip! Normally, I would need a coke for lunch and an afternoon nap and I would be complaining/whining about what I have to do and how sore I am.
Sure I’ve been sore and covered in dirt and worn out, but every day I have the strength and energy I need to contribute to the building of a house. Praise God!
The strength and energy I felt on that trip really was incredible. Perhaps it was a full day of hard work and a good night’s sleep. Perhaps it was not having to care for three small children while doing all of that hard work. Or perhaps it was having a quick and clear goal that we were working toward. But, I couldn’t help thinking that I should feel this way in Indiana while tackling the mission trip of my home.

Psalm 37:23,24 If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
I can claim the LORD’s strength and protection on a regular basis. Of course, it may not be so immediately gratifying to do another load of laundry, discipline my children or give some attention to my husband at the end of the day, but God promises that I don’t have to do His will in my own strength. As long as I set my heart on seeking God, he will take care of the rest…and I can find rest in that!

Dear LORD, Thank you for this morning. I praise you that you are the same God in the mundane as you are in the incredible of this life. Father God, this morning help me to seek you and follow your will. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and lead me in the way everlasting ii that I might do good for your kingdom and bless my neighbors along the way. Amen.

i Zechariah 4:6

ii Psalm 139:23,24

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Confessions of a Major "Risk" Taker - Two Fast, Two Furious

A year ago I was "brave" and invited my friend 'B' to the Spiritual Spa. She hasn't stopped talking about it since.

"Is your church gonna do another of those Spa things?"
"Remember when we went to that Spa? We should do that again sometime."
"Hey, if your church does another Spa, make sure you let me know."

In January I got the email: THE SPIRITUAL SPA RETURNS FEBRUARY 24th!

This time, I grinned and forwarded the email without any hesitation, again with a single sentence: "It's baaaaack!" She replied right away - she'd love to come, and would it be alright if she brought a friend?


When 'B' and I went to the 'mini-retreat' last year, it was intended to be a series of three 2-hour events spread over a couple of weeks. We attended the first one together. I went to the others alone. Things came up, life got in the way. My friend 'B' went through some tough life stuff in the months that followed. I kind of left her alone about 'church' stuff.

But she still asked about the Spa from time to time.

A couple of weeks after I sent the new invitation, she asked if she could come to church with me for real, like on a Sunday morning. "I just found out I've never been baptized," she told me. "Your church seems like a really cool place. They have baptism classes, and all of those sermon podcasts on the website. They baptize you in LAKE MICHIGAN!"

Last Sunday she was there for the first time, sitting with me and my husband in the comfy balcony chairs. She didn't know the songs but didn't seem to mind. The pastor taught on stress and anxiety and I found myself rooting for him, hoping he'd really nail the talk for her sake - until I remembered that there was a 'B' in the crowd every week.

I should remember that there might be a 'B' in the crowd every single week.


This new Spa was a two day event, starting after work on Friday and then taking up about eight hours of Saturday. Lots of women, lots of deep, intense stuff. Lots of tears. It was like old-school Oprah - you weren't allowed to leave until they squeezed a few tears out of you.

I tumbled my way to church after work Friday and waited for 'B' and her friend, ready to greet them at the door and make sure they felt comfortable and safe. Ready to protect them from anything scary, to answer questions, whatever they needed.

But they didn't come.

I found a space in the second row pew with a gal from my small group. Those couple of Friday hours were intense, but good. The kind of thing that reminds you how much hurt and pain and healing goes on in this world all around you without you noticing. The kind of thing that reminds you how easy a spirit is to neglect, and how fragile and strong it is at the same time.

To be honest, it was kind of rough. Like a deeeeep tissue massage that leaves you a little bruised at the end, but the better for it.

At the end of the night, the Spa leader said, "We need you to sit in the same seats tomorrow because you're going to stay in these small groups."

Me: "NO! I have friends who might come tomorrow! I'm supposed to sit with them!"

Okay, I didn't say it out loud, but my insides screamed a little. They couldn't do that, it was a bad idea. 'B' and her friend were coming, and they NEEDED me to act as hostess and caregiver. Anything else could have DISASTROUS consequences for their seeking endeavors! THEY NEED ME I'M NEEDED YOU CAN'T DO THIS!

But I kept all that to myself.


I arrived a little late for day two of the Spa - just in time to wave to 'B' and her friend, shout, "WE HAVE ASSIGNED SEATS!" They looked at me with both surprise and confusion, then shrugged and found seats a few rows away. I could see them if I really twisted, but I couldn't interact with them, couldn't gauge their reactions or tell how things were going.

We spent half the day in the sanctuary listening to panels, speakers, and praise songs. We spent the other half in our smaller groups, going through the Spa's 'Reflect - Relax - Replenish' rotation (which involves journaling, quiet prayer/meditation time, and eating). I got caught up in the events to the point that I kind of forgot about 'B' and her friend, out of sight and out of mind. I focused inward and had a meaningful time all my own.

Then, as the Spa was winding down, the gal sitting next to me from my small group leaned over and whispered, "Your friend is making a break for it!"

I turned around in time to see 'B' and her friend exit, seemingly in a hurry. I barely acknowledged their presence all day. But even still, I had a hard time feeling sad or guilty in that rich, thick atmosphere. I remembered my post from last year and just repeated to myself, "It has nothing to do with me."

But this time it wasn't true. Today was a little about me. And about them. And about every lady who took more than 10 hours out of her weekend to Reflect-Relax-Replenish. If things had gone my way, it would have been a repeat of last year. This time, I was forced to let go. This time, I was forced to focus on God instead of 'B'.

And you know what - it felt good.


An hour after I got home, I got a text message from 'B' - "Sorry we had to bolt, had to rescue my friend's babysitter. Did you have a good time?"

Me: Yeah, it was intense but good - how was it for you? Sorry I didn't talk to you at all today!"
B: No worries!! It was great, intense on our end. Words don't do it justice. I'm thinking about doing the next mini-Spas. I think they're really helpful.
Me: Glad it was a good experience. I'm going to 9am service tomorrow, if you want to go again.
B: I'll see you in the morning! I think today was great for my friend. I really hoped it would be!!!


Sometimes we watch friends struggle, and we pray and pray and our heart breaks. Sometimes it's easy and the pieces just come together in front of our eyes. And, sometimes a gal like me has to learn the same lesson over and over in different ways. 'B's' seeking still has nothing to do with me. I still need to tend to my soul instead of hers. I'm still here if she wants to talk, but I'm starting to think that she's actually tending to me.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I just posted a darkish blog post on my regular blog. I thought I'd share it here, too, as I know that this would be a good place for it.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Miracles Do Happen . . . Even for a Cat

WARNING: This Devo may contain TMI with regard to a cat's, um, bathroom behavior.

Last Friday, I greeted our family cat in the basement while he was in his litter box. I, kindly, averted my eyes and went about my business (laundry). Then, after several minutes, I realized that my cat was still hanging out in his litter box. Being that I've known this cat for the latter five years of his life (and the near entirety of my married life), I knew this was a bad sign.

Thus, a day of total chaos began. I called the vet. I made an appointment. I struggled to shove that stinking cat into the cat taxi. I got cat hair in my lip gloss. I drug my kids with me to the vet. We waited. The kids went nuts. The vet said, "If your cat doesn't urinate by 5 p.m., he needs to come in for a surgery. This surgery would save his life, and it is very expensive. It could potentially run you over $1,000, so . . . just know that."

I paid the vet bill for that office visit (which was already a chunk of change). I took the kids and the cat back home, and I spent the afternoon praying (well, among other duties of mine throughout the course of a regular weekday afternoon) for my cat to pee.

At 4 p.m., the vet called and asked if the cat had done the deed, and I was heartbroken to say that he hadn't. The vet then basically said I needed to act fast and get in there, or he could (and most likely would) die.

I asked God what I should do. I knew it was ridiculous to consider spending $1,000 on an 8-year-old cat, but, I went there in my thoughts. I don't even like the stupid cat most of the time, but I felt like I should do everything I could to help him (my husband and kids adore him, and oddly enough, there is actually place in my heart for him). I was a mess. I cried. I felt incredibly helpless.

Then, I remembered this little gem that friend Micah Leigh recently repeated during an email correspondence:
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:6-7)
Once I remembered that passage, it was as if an autopilot switch came on. I slowed down. I continued with my day as if I would normally. I kept an eye on the cat, and I continued to pray, of course. In fact, I got my 3-year-old daughter in on the action. Together, we said a prayer for the cat. "Dear God, Please let our kitty pee. Amen."

Then, I made the difficult phone call to the vet to let them know we would not be coming in for the surgery. My husband and I knew quite well (and expected it, realistically) that we could be putting our cat to sleep on Monday, but we kept praying that maybe he would just get better. We cried (well, it may have just been me, but I know Willis at least wanted to). I was beginning to accept that he was going to be gone soon, and I was also prepping myself for his bleak few days ahead.

In the morning, we were up early (always—our son is an alarm clock), and we were preparing to head to my parents' house for a long-planned visit. Just before we left, Willis ran up from the basement and told me to come look: the cat had peed! It wasn't much. It didn't necessarily mean at the time that the cat was going to be okay, but we at least knew there was hope (and reinforcing that, perhaps, not doing the surgery and dumping a load of cash was truly the right decision).

This afternoon, I checked the cat's box again to find that he's finally urinating more. As embarrassing as it is to actually acknowledge the fact that I shouted, "Thank God!" while staring into a cat litter box in my basement, it is still a real miracle. He's going to be okay!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Confessions of a Major "Risk" Taker

When it comes to sharing my faith... well, I don't really do it. I consider my faith a pretty private matter (which is why I'm usually a lurker and not a contributor on this blog). Evangelism isn't my gift. I don't really talk about Jesus - not due to any shame, but more because I worry that, if I bring it up, I won't be knowledgeable enough to take it anywhere - especially in my workplace, where I get the impression I'm in the minority when it comes to my beliefs.

When I was in college, I crossed paths with a girl who was seeking Jesus. She had a lot of questions. She wanted to talk, but I didn't really know what to say. She wanted to go to church, and I took her with me a couple of times, but I didn't follow up. As far as I know, the moment passed and her interest fizzled. She left school, we lost touch, and I don't know the rest of her story. That lost opportunity haunts me.

Earlier this week, I got an email from the women's ministry leader at our church here in Illinois, inviting me to a "mini-retreat." I haven't been involved in the women's ministry here at this church, but I'd heard good things about this particular program, so I considered going. On a whim, I considered asking the girl who sits next to me at work (for our purposes, we'll call her "B").

"B" is about my age. She's sweet tempered, considerate, kind, loyal - everything you'd want a friend to be. I don't know much about her life outside of work, but I haven't heard her talk about church or any other issues of faith, except to express a little curiosity about mine. I don't know if she grew up in the church. I don't know for sure whether she goes somewhere now. All I know is that, somewhere along the way, I got the impression she was a seeker - someone seeking to learn more about Jesus, whether she knows that's what she's doing or not.

I've thought about inviting "B" to things before. I belong to a small group, and I've thought about asking her to come to cookouts, a Super Bowl party, things like that. I haven't done it. My excuse: I don't want to be responsible for doing something that might "turn her off" to a life of Christian faith. Better to not be an ambassador at all than to be a BAD one. I didn't know enough. I wasn't worthy of mediating a meeting between her and Jesus.

But, on that particular day, with that particular email, I clicked "Forward." I typed one sentence: "I got this invitation and I thought of you; interested?"

There. I'd done it. I'd broken the ice. She would say no, and then I could invite her to something else later. The second time it wouldn't seem so weird. And then, maybe, five-six-seven invitations down the road, maybe she'd say yes. That's the process for something like this, right?


She said yes.
She said, "That sounds awesome. I'd love to go."
She said, "I've never done anything like this before."


I spent the next couple of days second guessing myself. What if I invited her to the wrong thing? What if this program wasn't what she was expecting? What if she goes to this, decides it's not for her, and then stops "seeking"... that is, assuming she was ever seeking in the first place?

I arrived at the church 20 minutes before the program started, just to make sure I got there before she did. She got there 10 minutes early, ready to go and not sure what to expect. I didn't know what to expect either.

The program started, and it was NOT seeker level. It was honestly kind of heavy. There was a lot of, "I feel the Holy Spirit has put this on my heart..." and "I feel God has been telling me..." There were a lot of scripture references being thrown around. I started sweating. I wondered if "B" was getting freaked out. I wondered if she was uncomfortable, if she regretted coming.

Then, toward the end of the retreat, we had a half an hour of quiet time - lights off, soft music, prayer, laying on mats - rest. As part of this quiet time, the leaders of the retreat went around the room and prayed with each woman individually. I wanted to run over to "B" and tell her, "You don't have to do this if you don't want to!!" But I didn't.

When quiet time was over, the leader of the retreat apologized profusely - our retreat was supposed to be two hours, but she'd lost track of time and gone WAY over. I knew "B" had somewhere else she was supposed to be, so again, I felt that sinking feeling that EVERYTHING had gone wrong.

"B" sat up, looked at me, and said, "Seriously! We've been here THREE hours? That went SO fast!"

She was smiling. She asked me to sign her up for the next installment in two weeks, and then she bolted out the door to go to her next appointment.

And then I laughed. I was exhausted from worrying, and the truth is:
It NEVER had anything to do with me.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Ok, ladies. I reach out to you all for advice and whatever else you may send my way.

Maybe it's pregnancy hormones. Maybe it's been a long week. Maybe it's been less and less time without my husband and just with my girls. Something has me thinking.

I've been going through this whole mental struggle lately about being pregnant and having more children. Don't get me wrong. I love my girls to death. You don't know love and what you will do for it until you become a parent. Lately, I've been thinking that three kids is just fine. Three is all we should have. And three is honestly all I can handle while being a single parent 4-5 days a week. (For those who don't know, my husband is a commercial airline pilot and is gone about three-quarters of the month for work.)

My pregnancies haven't been the easiest. With my first, I had a placenta previa, which means the placenta was covering my cervix, and if I had delivered naturally, I would have delivered the placenta first and could have risked my baby's life along with my own. So, we had a c-section. No problem. My second pregnancy, we were really trying for a VBAC, meaning a natural birth after undergoing a previous c-section. I held out until 41 weeks, only to find out that my next daughter was stuck with her hands up by her temples. The surgery went well, but the doctor said that it was a good thing I didn't undergo a natural labor because I, more than likely, would have ruptured. Now, with my third baby, we plan on another c-section. This pregnancy has been more painful with two incision scars to deal with (and running after two kids!). And we found out that the placenta for this baby is in the front, which means it may be too close to the scar tissue from the previous surgeries. We have to wait and see what happens, but there is a chance that the placenta will grow too deep until the wall of the uterus, resulting in a more involved surgical removal and possible hysterectomy.

Is anyone else reeling from my medical worries right now? I sure am. So I've been thinking that, in order to save myself from stressing out insanely again, we might use some sort of birth control after our third baby is born.

If you know me, you know that I've grown up Catholic. I went to Catholic schools my whole life. I love my church deeply. My moral system has been ingrained with belief that contraception should never be used in a married relationship. Birth control/IUDs/tubal ligations/vasectomies are a big no-no. They prevent the possibility of an egg and sperm from meeting up, so therefore, they prevent a pregnancy and a life from beginning. The only way to prevent pregnancy in Catholicism is to use NFP (Natural Family Planning). We've been using that method since day one. It's a method that can work 100%, but you have to really watch and chart everything happening with your body, and you can only have sex during your infertile time of the month. (Yeah...this is TMI, right? I'm going to keep going anyway.) By my charting and the NFP method rules, we conceived all three girls on infertile days. Yeah...so I was shocked three times when my pee stick came out positive. Since I've been pregnant a lot lately, my hormone levels fluctuate so much that it's really hard to chart a certain way from month to month. It's frustrating thinking that what you are doing is right only to find out later that, since A and B were happening with your body, you actually fall in to group alpha and NOT group beta. UGH! According to all the books we were doing everything right, but in the fine print, we fell under the exceptions every single time we made a baby. Anyway...The only time that the Catholic church doesn't frown upon a hormonal contraceptive is if a doctor deems it medically necessary. Pretty much, if you would die if you got pregnant again, go ahead and take the pill. If you just need to prevent pregnancy, get really good at NFP.

So I'm having this whole mental, spiritual, moral battle within myself on what we should do after we have our third child. I've had three c-sections in three and a half years. My body is tired. I fear what would happen if I get pregnant again. Honestly, I've never been truly happy when we found out we were pregnant. It always been "what did we do wrong." There was no planning to our family at all. So...I fear the idea of possibly being that "single parent" to a huge brood of children. It's hard to be both mother and father the majority of the year. It's REALLY hard to be battered with the "I could get pregnant" voice in my head every single time my husband and I have sex! And he isn't home that much, so you all know the opportunities are few and far between over here! I also fear what my family and Catholic friends would think if they found out we were using a contraceptive. At the same time, I would feel terrible if I knew I prevented a life from being born. I love my kids. I would hate knowing that there was a little soul out there that was supposed to rely on me for life, and I decided not to love them in return.

So it's a real moral dilemma, people. I'd love to hear your feedback.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Dunk Tanks & Giving Thanks :)

Hi, sweet friends!

'Tis the season for gratitude and reflection, and God's grace in my life is overwhelming!

To say that it's been a tough year for our family would be a gross understatement, but the Lord has remained steadfast in each trial, sovereign in uncertainty, and great in His faithfulness.

Truly, His love never fails, and I was so excited to publicly acknowledge His mercies in my life at my baptism on 21 November.

My parents had me dedicated as an infant, and I accepted Christ as my savior when I was a little girl. But my faith really became my own in college - largely because of the fellowship, accountability, and support of the Monday Girls! Baptism by immersion was - for me - an act of obedience to Christ (Matt. 28:19-20) and a symbolic, external sign of the internal change God began in me when I first came to know Him personally.

As I stood in the (freezing!) water last weekend, I thought of our devotional times at Purdue. How grateful I am that the LORD saw fit to bring us together all those years ago...and that we're still connected thru Him today!

Thanks for your friendship and encouragement across the years and miles. Mondays - and YOU - will always have a special place in my heart :).

Love y'all,



*PTL - we had 19 believers baptized! I'm in the middle, around 7:50...