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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Grace and Mercy in the New Mom Season

woman holding baby

This past December, my husband and I welcomed a new member into our family, Owen. In the months leading up to his birth, I was all in on reading to prepare for taking care of a baby: the classic What to Expect When You’re Expecting, the Christian book Made for This on childbirth, and the baby whisperer book, The Happiest Baby on the Block, kindly gifted to me by a friend.  In addition to having a handy dandy best friend who is an OBGYN, I read all the articles on Lucie’s List and did extensive research on baby products. Even in the midst of all this learning I knew none of it was actually going to adequately prepare me for the trial by fire experience of having a little human we’re suddenly responsible for. All this — while I’m recovering from what the comedian Ali Wang calls someone’s house being […]

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What Lasts is Love

homeless sign

My mentee Ally and I volunteered at a homeless shelter together last week. We handed out toothpaste, floss, towels, and more from a supply closet to the men at the shelter. We spoke to a man whose dog Bobo had all the guests (and us!) enraptured. Another man told me about his son who died at age 18 – and I shared about my brother, in heaven at the same age. We reasoned they were likely having a party together now. Do you think age matters in heaven, that you tend to make friends with people your age like you do on earth? We didn’t always have what the men requested – eyeglasses so they could read, clean boxers, or the right charger for their phones. The needs felt so great in this building where dozens of men shared one communal room in which to sleep and find shelter from […]

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Having Kids is the End of Your Life

mom walking child

I’ve heard before that Austin, Texas, the city I live in and love, has more dogs than children. Needless to say, having my first kid at 25 made me weird, and now having four kids qualifies me as absolutely crazy.  It’s not surprising that people often look at me and say: “I’m not ready for kids. I just don’t want to give up _______.” Often that blank is filled with “my freedom,” “my time,” “my selfishness,” “my career,” “my money,” etc. We live in a culture that is looking for life in traveling the world, drinking lattes, and happy hours (which don’t get me wrong – I love those things! Lattes are my love language), but we tend to value our enjoyment, entertainment and ease more than we value giving our lives away to the next generation. We want to live our life and then have kids. Because having kids […]

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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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Living on Mission: What is it anyway?

arrow pointing

In the middle of a pandemic, when your every day to day is suddenly flipped on its head, it’s pretty easy to start contemplating life and its purpose – specifically your own.  Who am I?  What am I doing?  Why am I here?  If you are a believer, the answer is simple.  Your mission is Christ’s mission. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”   Matthew 4:19 During a recent sermon by Calvary Church’s Steve Dang, he said, “When we place our faith in Christ, we don’t go into ministry, we are in ministry.”  In other words, when you accept Christ, you accept the mission of God.  And God is in the ministry of reconciliation  (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).  From the time of the The Fall in Genesis 3, God has been working to win us back to Him.  He did this through Christ, and […]

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Leaving a Biblical Legacy in the Workplace

On July 11, 2019, my husband’s grandmother, Evangelina, went to be with our Lord at the age of 97. Evangelina lived a life of service to God; a devout Catholic, she vowed to live a life of obedience, humility, and poverty. On the night of her rosary, her spiritual family joined hands, surrounded her coffin, and serenaded her for the last time. As I sat in silence, I tuned in to the beautiful lyrics and began to weave the memory into my mind. I pondered the stories of personal witness that were shared by Evangelina’s spiritual family. It was very touching.  Days after the funeral the word “legacy” lingered in my mind. I had never considered it before. To be honest, it’s painful to think about. Typically, one leaves a legacy behind to their children, but sadly, my womb never carried a child. Proverbs describes a good man as leaving […]

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Identifying as Christian in Secular Circles

“People ask me if I believe in God … people kept asking me that question, which I really don’t like. I don’t like that question, so I sat and thought about it for a good while and I tried to figure out why. And I thought, well … who would have the audacity to claim that they believed in God? If they examined the way they lived, who would dare say that?”–Jordan Peterson Growing up I was aware of how I carried myself in different circles– Joanna around non-Christian friends tried to fit in, be cool, stay relevant, and most importantly be liked. Joanna around Christian friends said “Oh my gosh” instead of “Oh my God” and “darn” instead of “damn.” I remember acutely as a teenager feeling this identity struggle inside of me. Was it okay that I was acting differently around my non-Christian friends? Did that mean I […]

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Simplifying God’s Will For Your Life

Was there a parting of the skies? Goosebumps when they prayed? A booming voice from heaven? How are some Christians so confident about God’s will for their lives? MY EARLY YEARS OF DISCERNING GOD’S CALL I’m the first to admit in my early years as a Christian (2011-2014) I was hyper-spiritual about “callings.” Every other week I’d share God was “calling me” to do something. “I feel like God is calling me to go to Chicago this summer!” or, “I feel called to start a new job next year!” No one ever questioned how I knew. They just supported me if what I “felt called to” had spiritual reasoning. I had no idea how to listen to God as I was basically biblically illiterate. I observed other people’s faith I admired and noticed their confidence in God’s will for them. I wondered how they became so sure. Even in my […]

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Have you met Sioban?

I will never forget the day I met Sioban. We were both on a plane headed to Santa Fe, New Mexico. We were fortunate to be in a row with two seats; she was sitting next to the window and I had the aisle seat, neither of us had to worry about the inconveniences of the middle seat. We did not speak; however, our body language fashioned a sense of courtesy by leaning away from each other to create the feeling of space. When the plane finally reached its cruising altitude, the captain announced it was safe to move about the cabin. I could hear clicking coming from the drink cart being prepared to make its way down the aisle. Instead of closing my eyes as I typically do on a flight, I reached into my tote and pulled out my Bible. I was behind on my Bible study and […]

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