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After starting this journey w/ our God in 1986, He continues to teach me and show me more and more of Himself. He often uses other people to do that....

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I am answering this question from Ann Voskamp's blog "A Holy Experience"

During the next three weeks, as we walk with Him, might we consider: The Spiritual Discipline of Time. Might we explore the purpose of time, how to live in time, slow it down and not rush, how to use time as a holy thing. And how do we make time for God and for all things eternal? We look forward to your thoughts, stories, ideas….

When my son, Kenny, was in 6th grade, we bought him his first cell phone. Way too soon, I'm sure, but we gave into the pull of wanting to be in touch wherever, whenever....I digress. The other day, I called his phone (now a big 8th grader) and heard the same voicemail message he made three years go. His voice sounded younger, more elementary-school-like. My first thought was to tell him to change it now that his voice is deeper...then, "No, I hope he leaves it like that for the next twenty years." I want to remember how he sounded. It made me wish I took more pictures, more video footage. The next night, after too many hours of work, I called on my way home thinking I'd get his voicemail and instead got his voice (even better!). I asked if he wanted to do a mall date with me..."YYYYeah!" I scooped him up and spent the next two hours eating Kato's Chicken, laughing at his goofy jokes, and wandering through the mall. My body was weary, but my heart was glad for the time with him. Sometimes, no often, time has to be taken. Those moments don't just happen. I have to be intentional about being fully present in those moments and recognizing the opportunity when it presents itself. As we pulled into the garage at the end of our "date", he said, "Thanks for the time tonight, Mom. That was epic." He didn't thank me for the jeans I bought him or the Kato's Chicken or the cool t-shirt he landed. It was the time that mattered to him most.

One Thousand Gifts

I just started reading "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp. It is moving me in ways I didn't expect. I am going to start counting the many gifts in life I'm grateful for as I read this book. Today, I'll start with #1.

1. I am grateful for making it home alive today. Kenny (14) and I were driving home from church in an ice storm. As I was driving along, a car in front of me started sliding from left to right and back again across three lanes of interstate. I felt a calm come over me and give me clarity to keep switching lanes so as not to hit her. I moved far right to get far from her and suddenly she was far right in front of me. I calmly looked behind me to see who was there and adjusted left. Soon I was past her and she was stopped safely on the shoulder with her head in her hands sobbing uncontrollably. I am grateful for so much in those few seconds...for the calm that came over me. For my son who was buckled tight. And for the sobbing woman who was safely parked on the shoulder now after at least three 360 degree spins across the ice. The gift is knowing He was present in those moments. His presence is the greatest gift of all.

holy experience

Friday, February 18, 2011

Red Velvet Cake

With life moving at such a fast pace these days, I am enjoying a night at home with Kenny, my handsome, goofy 14-year old son. What amazes me is that he still wants to hang out with me at 14, but I'm not complaining! Mark and Josh are in Texas on a ministry trip for the weekend. Josh has been sporting his Packers jersey around Dallas all day, and somehow he still managed to make some friends. I love that he and Mark can make some memories together down there. Meanwhile, Kenny and I get some bonding time back at the house. We watched a goofy movie tonight that I won't even name, because it was that stupid. I had more fun watching Kenny laugh at nothing than watching the movie itself. Along with the movie, we had a cake-making project going on. Kenny's been watching "Cake Boss" on Netflix a lot and wanted to try his hand at making his own cake. He chose Red Velvet with cream cheese frosting. It actually tasted amazing, but my kitchen does look like a murder scene. Well worth worth it...

On another note, my sister (Tammy) and I were in downtown Madison all day. Actually, I've been down there all week for work. We were doing training in the Concourse Hotel and Tammy had the day off, so she brought her lap-top and grad school work and camped out in another part of the hotel while I "trained". We were a block away from the Capitol Building. At lunch, we sat at Noodles and Company on State Street and watched out the window as thousands of college students marched down the street with crazy signs and hats. They descended on the capitol to voice their opposition to Governor Scott Walker's budget proposal, which would limit labor unions in their contract negotiations for state employees. We heard Jesse Jackson was nearby, but we never actually saw him. It was a high energy day. I'm not sure what I think about all of it, but I was very aware that we were sitting in the middle of something pretty historic. From my little chair, I'm just a state worker who didn't have a job 3 months ago who's thankful to be working. If they take more out of my check for health insurance and ask me to contribute to my retirement, I think I can live with that. But that's just me. And I realize the whole issue is much bigger than me.

Thanks again for reading. If you're reading this and you have something we can pray about for you, leave a comment (or send me an e-mail at fourdisciples@frontier.com) and we'll add you to our prayer list. We have family devotions a few times each week and would love to pray for you together.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Amazing Gift

I am posting this story with my sister's permission. I can't wait to share part of her amazing story with you. I wrote this in honor of my nephew's recent birthday. Grab your kleenex!

I only got to meet him once, so far. About 20 minutes old, I breathed in his light chocolate skin. I savored the moment, knowing the next time I saw him he would likely be a grown man.

My sister, his mom, gave him a selfless gift. Young, wounded and needing time to heal, she wanted more for him than she could give him then. I had the privilege of traveling that long road with my sweet sister to a faraway place. With resolute determination, her face set like flint, I watched her push through that week with the kind of strength and dignity that can only come from maternal love.

Her stomach brimming with new life, we boarded the plane with more than a few stares and questioning glances. I became her self-appointed press secretary to shield her from answering unneeded (and often ignorant) questions. Of special note was the large, nosy woman across the aisle who felt it was her job to get to the bottom of the story behind my sister's very large belly. My protective instincts kicked in and I intercepted her questions with the speed of a running back. I digress....

When we arrived in that faraway place, we were greeted by a handsome attorney, who would be my sweet nephew's adoptive father. He shuttled us to a nearby hotel and checked in on us daily (sometimes more) to see how my sister (and his future son) were progressing. He had the eagerness of a new Dad and treated us with respect and kindness.

For more than a few days, my sister and I walked the streets of that faraway place in hopes of bringing on labor. Rain, wind and cold did not stop us from venturing outside our hotel room. If there was daylight and my sister was still “with child”, we walked.

Finally, a blizzard descended on the faraway place. So did labor pains descend upon my sister – in full force. The handsome attorney pulled into our hotel within minutes of our call. Less than an hour later, my sister was in a hospital room in full-blown labor.

A very short doctor entered the room to examine my sister's condition and labor progress. (He needed a stool to stand on to do the pelvic exam!) Without much examining, the good doctor concluded this little bundle of joy would arrive very quickly.

I held my sister's hand and nearly lost my circulation due ot her intense squeezing. As I performed this important task, I regularly glanced “southward” to assess the situation. Each time I did this, my long hair flew into my sister's red face beaded with sweat. This annoyance may have slowed her labor down, but my nephew's abrupt arrival still came within thirty minutes of arriving in the hospital room.

Almost immediately the ADRENALINE level in the room slowed down to a minimum. Peace and relief reigned. The adoptive parents, my sister, myself, our short doctor friend and the nurses – we all had a different role and angle in that holy moment, but we all seemed to agree that it was all about the child. He was safe. He was breathing. He had ten fingers and ten toes. He was perfect. No matter what all the adults in the room were thinking and feeling up until that moment of his birth, that moment belonged to him. He owned it. And rightly so.

After holding him close to her chest for a few precious moments, my sister called his parents over to her bed. It happened to be his adoptive mom's birthday. My sister handed her this most amazing gift of a child and said, “Happy Birthday, Mom.” There were no dry eyes in the room at that point.

From where I stood that day, my sister was the most courageous woman on the planet. While many in her shoes may have chosen a different path, my sister chose to carry her child for more than nine months and do the hardest thing any mom could be asked to do – allow someone else to raise her child. For this reason, she has since then been my greatest hero in life.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


So, I wrote this article about 2 or 3 years ago and sent it in to "Just Between Us" magazine (a magazine geared towards pastor's wives and women in ministry). I never heard back from them, so I kind of forgot about it. Yesterday, they e-mailed and asked if they could include it in their summer 2011 edition. I'm pasting it for you below....enjoy!

As a young pastor’s wife, I had my eye on the prize. As we toured the low-income neighborhood of the first church where Mark and I would work, I imagined the difference we would make. I envisioned many coming to Christ, and this building coming back to life as God used us to set our little part of the world on fire. Fourteen months later, we were loading our U-Haul to move into our next church. Disillusioned with the surreal experience of watching God’s people tear each other apart, I found it difficult to look forward to the next stop.

Onward we went. God was gracious enough to put us in a place where people loved us. My heart was cautious, though. I was hesitant to let people in. I selectively reached out to people who seemed safe, but kept the walls up around others. Even as God used our time there to bring healing and strengthening in many ways, I was exhausted. Looking back, I realize I never allowed myself to let my guard down. A good friend pointed out my sin to me. She called it “the sin of self-protection.” Ugh. She was so right.

“But, how can protecting yourself be a sin?” you ask. After all, the Bible says, “Be as wise as serpents, yet innocent as doves” (KJV). Self-protection is a sin when it becomes the single most important thing in your life. How can we be a blessing to anyone if we don’t allow them to see who we are? Beyond the Sunday clothes and women’s ministry titles…who are we? Who has God created us to be? Doesn’t He want the world to be allowed the privilege of seeing that He doesn’t make junk?
Six years later, we moved to a new church in a new state. We both sensed God’s hand in the move and in the church and community He was calling us to. I made a decision on the long drive up the interstate. Before God, I decided that I would be myself in this church. I purposed in my heart that I would pray for two solid friends in the church whom I could be honest with and share myself with. God delivered inside of a year. He answered my prayers beyond anything I could have hoped for or imagined. He gave me two friends who allowed me the grace and freedom to share from my heart and be who I was. They also had a gracious way of letting me know when I was wrong. What a gift!

Five years later, we moved again to a new ministry position in our current state. Leaving my friends behind was painful. I’m so grateful God gave me the courage to let my walls down and to go deep with my sisters in Christ. What a rich time of friendship and spiritual intimacy.

As I write this, I am three years into our new place of service. It hasn’t been easy, but my heart is free, my friends know who I am, and I realized that God is using us to begin to set our little part of the world on fire.