How Motherhood is Teaching Me to Reimagine Sacrifice

woman carrying smiling baby

“Look at how much God is letting you sacrifice for this little one already,” she texted back with the confidence of a seasoned mother. My friend’s wisdom stunned me. I just shared how I’d been experiencing chronic pain throughout my entire pregnancy. Get to sacrifice already? Is she nuts? I’m about to endure labor, delivery, AND postpartum recovery after suffering for nine months. What about that is blessed? Wait… did she say ‘ALREADY’? Only the beginning And… turns out… she was right. A challenging pregnancy was only the beginning of how much the Lord would let me sacrifice for my little one.  The first five months of my daughter’s life would include some extremely difficult moments: Cluster feeding (16 nursing sessions per day for three weeks), colic, thrush (twice–in a row–both of us), severe neck rash, “poor coordination” of the mouth (rejected bottles, weekly OT rehab), sleep-deprived insomnia, Torticollis (weekly […]

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Soul: Remember your God (A poem)

man in black and white sweater sitting on chair

You have replayed your anxieties, complaints, and sorrows. Again. And again. And again. But have you rehearsed the glory of your God? Yahweh, Jehovah, Messiah. Trust Him!  Lean into His grace. Drink from His well. Feast on His abundance. Look up. Look to Him. Who, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross. Remember. He has purpose for this season. None of it is wasted. Fear not. Don’t give in. He has overcome the world. Be present today. After all, it’s all He’s given. And He will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Do not worry about tomorrow (or how you’ll finish this season). It has enough trouble of its own. Fear not, little flock, for your Father knows what you need and is pleased to give you the Kingdom. Hold on to the hope of the gospel.  Stay anchored in your Redeemer.  […]

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Good News For the Poor

ashes burning

My heart burned within me as I read Isaiah 61:1-3. The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,because the Lord has anointed meto proclaim good news to the poor.He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,to proclaim freedom for the captivesand release from darkness for the prisoners,to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favorand the day of vengeance of our God,to comfort all who mourn,and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beautyinstead of ashes [dignity — valued, respected, worthy],the oil of joyinstead of mourning [honor],and a garment of praiseinstead of a spirit of despair [heaviness].They will be called oaks of righteousness,a planting of the Lordfor the display of his splendor [glory]. It took me a while to realize why my heart was burning. Weeks, actually. At first, I was simply moved by the stunning imagery of Isaiah 61. Then, I began […]

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What Contacts Have Taught Me About Comparison

silhouette of pregnant woman

Life-long contact wearers make putting them in look so easy, don’t they? Boop! and it’s in.  My first week of wearing contacts, however, was less ‘boop’ and more UGH. I wasn’t patient or gentle with myself at all. I was flustered and frustrated and honestly? A little embarrassed that contacts were bringing out a “shame monger” in me. Dramatic as it might sound, for a split second I actually felt like a failure of a person for not being able to easily put in contacts. Similarly, comparison has a way of obscuring our vision. “Those People” The second I begin to notice I’m comparing myself to the proverbial they, I know my vision is clouded. For me lately, that’s been comparing myself to other pregnant mamas. How they looked. What they did to prepare. How they felt throughout pregnancy.  But to say something is one way for ALL pregnant women […]

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Smashing Work Idols

Too often, I live as if circumstances dictate joy. Here’s a prime example: recently, my husband Brad and I were praying before Community Group and he surprised me by asking God to send us with joy. My initial thought was ugly: “Ugh. Joy? I’m not feeling joy right now.” Realizing this, I knew I had let that day’s circumstances dictate my joy, not the Lord. So, I repented and joined Brad in asking the Spirit to bear joy in us.  I think it’s worth noting that when I repented, I didn’t “feel joy” immediately afterward… and I think that’s okay. Joy isn’t just a feeling. It is a work of God in us. It is the gladness of heart in knowing God (1 Peter 1:8), abiding in Christ (John 15:5), and being filled with the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22). And sometimes, it will involve praying and waiting with expectancy for […]

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God, why? > God, what?

green trees on island during daytime

If I’m being honest, there is still a part of me that wishes life would unfold the way I want it to.  And I’m no stranger to the unexpected. I’ve spent the past six years in constant transition: I moved to the Netherlands for a year, serving as a campus missionary. Two weeks later, I married my college sweetheart where we fell in love, in Kalamazoo, MI. A week after arriving back from our honeymoon in Puerto Rico, we drove straight down from Chicago to our new home in Austin, TX. He began seminary; we both started new non-ministry jobs. After a few months, we joined a new church. Six months later, we both had to start new jobs (again). Two years later, we moved back to Michigan after his seminary unexpectedly closed. It took us a month to find new housing, and we lived with my in-laws. Those first […]

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God is moving to the ends of the earth right now – even tiny cafes in The Netherlands

people sitting on restaurant chairs

We met in a typical Dutch cafe in the middle-of-the-day Tuesday before Christmas. “It was really nice to hear how you ordered an Americano in English. I always knew I was saying it wrong!”, she smiled and approached me.  “Pardon?”, I asked. “Why, yes!” (Explains Dutch vs. English pronunciation.) “What is your favorite drink to order here?”, I laughed. Zoe was the nicest Dutch woman, heck – one of the nicest people I’d ever met. Her personality was welcoming and eccentric. As a psychology professor who believed in good books and lattes, she definitely looked the part: shoulder-length reddish, unruly hair, and large crooked glasses. She was turning 38 the same exact day I was turning 23. Besides sharing a December 30th birthday, we had many other common interests. Coffee “made wrong” (pictured above), museums, travel, bucket lists, reflection, friendship, the newspaper, research, and freedom for women all over the […]

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Owners of nothing, stewards of everything

water bottle

A while back, my mom let me borrow her purple water bottle. I used it so much I started to forget it was hers to begin with.  Sometimes I fail to remember that the “purple water bottles” God lets me borrow are His, too.  During my first year in the counseling program at my seminary, I was so very aware grad school was a gift from God. I knew He was loaning me the knowledge, time, and resources. I was believing and remembering He is all-wise and knows everything about counseling, my program, where He’s calling me. I found myself holding loosely to grad school. I wasn’t anxious about going to class, studying for exams, writing research papers, applying for internships, or telling people I had no idea where I’d be after graduation. As I entered my second year of the program, however, a strange thing happened. I became clingy, […]

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What’s Your “Why”?

In counseling, we emphasize several key points to clients for goal-setting to be more successful. Two of the most important are some of the most simple – and challenging.  First, if possible, goals should be framed positively. For example, “I want to stop drinking” (negative) vs. “I want to be sober” (positive). Or, “I don’t want to be anxious” (negative) vs. “I want to experience more peace” (positive). Clients are encouraged to consider not simply what obstacle they want to overcome, but what they actually want to achieve. Second, goals should have a clear motivation. For example, a counselor might say, “I know you want to be sober/more peaceful/etc. — tell me what motivates that desire. Let’s meditate on that.” Even if a client has a positive goal in mind, it’s not enough. They’ve got to know their “why” so their goal is reinforced by emotion. For example, “I want […]

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Let’s Make Space for Lament During Coronavirus, Too

In many ways, I’m wildly encouraged by the global Church’s response to this Coronavirus pandemic. I’m seeing innovative acts of love being given to neighbors. I’m watching buckets of grace be poured out as we all wade through these uncharted waters. I’m hearing about the selfless, consistent attempts to reach the most vulnerable and likely to become isolated. Praise God! Also: since COVID-19 began to spread, I have been surprised by how few Christians I have observed grieving right now. This unprecedented time has created life-altering shifts for everyone in the world – big and small. Whether it be the loss of a loved one, loss of employment, loss of safety at school for kids, or just an everyday loss of freedom, there is something for us all to grieve right now.  What’s Lament? This pandemic is bringing me back to my knees in prayer through the ancient spiritual discipline […]

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