Listening to the Spirit

As I mentioned yesterday, I am writing all week long for a devotional site called

It’s been a neat exercise to take some time to write these devotionals. And the one which is posted today especially so. How are you at listening to the Spirit’s voice in your life? If you’re anything like me, that can be very challenging. And I don’t have all the answers, but  I hope that this offers you some encouragement.

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17b-19

Do you ever have trouble hearing the voice of the Spirit? If you’re anything like me, then your answer is a resounding Yes! Recently I have embarked on a project of simplicity. What do I mean? I have been trying to simplify the “extras” in my life. Too often I allow noises to crowd out the voice of God.

So I have begun turning off the T.V. and simplifying my activities. I have been working to discipline myself to only take so much time getting ready in the morning. I am still very much a work in progress, but I’m learning.

And I have been amazed at how these simple steps have allowed me to hear the voice of the Spirit.

Click here to read more from “Listening to the Spirit.”

Recently I was asked to join a team of women writing for a website called This week is my first week of posts, so I thought I would post them here. In a post entitled, “He is Good,” this is what I write…

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Even before my husband and I decided to start our family, I knew that not having a child would be painful. However, I didn’t know that this pain was going to challenge my view of self.

And I didn’t know that giving this pain to God to be used for his purposes would require heart-wrenching sacrifice. But for the past 4 years, this has been my journey and this is where I have begun to find God in the pain, in the sacrifice, in my own weakness. And as I write for the first time for, I thought this was a good place to start.

One day a few years ago, I faced that all-too-familiar disappointing news… I was not pregnant…

Follow the rest of the post:

Beautiful Things

On Monday I posted some very personal things (you can see post here!). I felt compelled to write what I did but I honestly didn’t expect the response I received. Sure I expected a few comments here and there (namely from our moms… and a few close friends), but the magnitude of messages I received both privately and publicly on facebook and through my blog was overwhelming. Thank you, dear friends, for your care for us.

Over the past 4 years Brandon and I have heard a variety of responses to our struggle first with infertility and then during our wait for an adoption. Some have bordered on awkward as individuals gave all too detailed advice to aid us in our quest. 😉 Some unintentionally disregarded our reality with comments like, “Don’t worry, God’s plan is better in the end,” or “Aren’t you glad you haven’t miscarried,” or even “You’re young, don’t worry about it.”

But most of you, the vast majority of you, have come around us to cry and to grieve and to call us forward. In the midst of our most painful moments, I, we, have been blessed with friends who have met us in our suffering and then pointed us forward. Not by denying our grief or our pain, but by exalting God.

During one of our recent dissappointments I let some individuals close to us know that it had not worked out. The responses I got were amazing. These individuals started by acknowledging how hard this was… what a great dissappointment it truly was. They shared their own dissappointment, shed their own tears….

And then they simply said, “But remember, God is good.” They didn’t make claims to know God’s plan, nor did they trivilize this dissappointment by asserting that God’s plan would be better in the end and we just needed to remember that.

No, they simply pointed me, pointed us, to our Savior.

And this gave me hope. This gave Brandon hope. This gave us an ability to move forward.

And we are so thankful.

One of the realities we have as Christians is that God is most evident in times of grief or pain. His joy is present even with our smile has disappeared. We have reason to rejoice, even when circumstances havn’t gone our way. And this is where my hope is found. You see I don’t often take hope is God’s future plan… I take hope in my present reality… with Christ all things, I mean all things, are possible. He is my hope even when life is hard. He is my joy in the midst of my tears.

By his power, and only by his power, I can see beauty in the midst of my grief. Friends, I haven’t lost my joy. I have just found it in new ways.

And you are a huge part of that.

I wanted to close today with a song that has been increasingly meaningful to me in the last week and that (spoiler alert) Brandon and I will be singing next month!

I need your help!

So I’ve had a hard time writing lately. Why? Well, I honestly don’t feel as if I have much to say. Which is a problem. Not so much for my faithful blog readers (whoever you may be… if you even exist), but for my professional readers. You see most of you know that Brandon writes and edits for a living. Although he hopes one day to be a full time professor, right now he finds great opportunities to write. I mean, he’s not even 30 (that’s right, we’re very, very young) and is working on his second book. He’s good. I mean, I’m totally biased, but he’s really good! (Seriously, ask his mom…)

So what does this have to do with me? Well what many of you don’t know is that I write too. Now, compared to Brandon what I do looks like child’s play… but that works for me, since I primarily write about children.

Okay, so now you’re wondering why I need your help. Well, right now I am working on a project on ministering to Children of Divorce. And I would love to know your thoughts. I am married to a child of divorce, have many friends who are the adult children of divorce and I am daily overwhelmed by stories of children who are journeying through this painful experience.

So that’s where you come in. I would love to hear your stories. Are you a child of divorced parents? What was your experience like at school, at church, at home? What did you find the hardest part of this whole journey? Maybe you are a parent or an aunt or an uncle in this situation. I would love to know your experience as well. Pretty soon I’m going to be having a round table discussion with some friends whose parents divorced when they were young. I’m looking forward to hearing from them. And I especially would like to know how your faith community handled this. What was your experience at church?

Basically, if you would trust me with it, I would love to know your story. And I know these stories might be somewhat personal, so feel free to email me by filling out the form below. Don’t worry, others wont see your story, just me.  

Thank you! And I really do plan to write more regularly soon… I’ve missed my blogging world.


Longing for a person I don’t yet know…

Dear friends,

Lately we have been longing especially hard for our child. We’ve embarked on many projects… cleaning and sorting every space in our house, reading through and learning to practice Celebration of Discipline… but none of these has replaced the deep longing we both have in our hearts to meet and especially to hold our child.

I found myself earlier tonight (without even thinking) making childcare plans for a fancy dinner we have in October… it struck me, as it has so many other times, that I am a woman who is waiting and who doesn’t quite know when that time will end.

This morning at church I had several wonderful and sweet interactions with our covenant children. And as one especially beloved infant grabbed my finger, I felt in my heart the desire to take this child home. However, this wasn’t a desire felt in pain, but in joy. I am blessed to work with so many wonderful children… to shepherd so many joyous and energetic souls… these children remind me each week the joy that I am anticipating. They remind me each week of the privilege, honor and responsibility that will soon be ours as parents. And as Thomas Smoak spoke to us this morning, these children reveal Christ to me in ways I would not have known. And I am thankful for them.

And even when these children struggle to listen or say words they shouldn’t or run from the room unexpectedly (yes, even at Immanuel)… they remind me that parenting isn’t easy. I will struggle, I will even want to pull my hair out at times. And even in these “disobedient” times, they reveal Christ to me in ways I would not have known.

And I just love them.

As I sit on my couch, pajamas on and face washed (yes, I know it’s only 7:15), planning for the week ahead, my heart hopes that this is the week we get that very special call. And it aches.

But ultimately I sit in hope. Because I am surrounded by people (young and old, big and small) who have shown Christ to me in so many ways… I am married to a man who loves me when I am unlovable… I am privileged to shepherd so many wonderful children… I am a daughter, sister, friend and cousin to family I wouldn’t trade… and I am a mother in waiting.

Brandon and I are so thankful for the many, many friends & family who have walked this road with us and we thank you for your prayers as we continue to go a little farther. When we began trying to start a family more than 3 years ago, we never would have imagined being here now. And it is only because of the people who have journeyed with us that we have made it this far. You have each revealed Christ to us in ways we would not have known and for that we thank you.

And we once again humbly ask for your prayer. But more than that, we ask you to continue to walk with us so that we might continue to see Christ in you. Thank you for your testimony of God’s great grace.

Blessings on you this week!

Know My Heart?

Search me O God and know my heart,

Try me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me

and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

I love Birthdays. And lucky for me, I celebrated one yesterday. I love the surprise gifts, the fun meals out, the celebration… perhaps even being the center of attention.

For the past 10 years (or so) I have done one particular thing every birthday morning… read Psalm 139. Why this Psalm? When I was in 5th grade my teacher had us memorize this whole chapter. What I so admire about her method (even more so now that I work with kids) is that she took us through it slowly. We memorized a few verses at a time… then we journalled about them, rehearsed them, talked about them with our friends… we knew them well before we ever moved on. It took us a LONG time to memorize the whole passage, but I have never forgotten it.

And these last 2 verses (quoted above) are increasingly sweet.

Search me… know my heart.

My heart is a mixture of emotion. As we wait for our child, I find myself yearning for the hope that God offers, for the comfort that only He gives, for the fulfillment of our desires that only He can offer… yet I also find myself easily tempted by bitterness, anger, envy. To know my heart is to see the good, the bad and the ugly.

Try me… know my anxious thoughts.

My anxious thoughts have been in abundance lately. When will our baby come? When will freelance checks come in? What if I don’t get enough volunteers? What if my cell phone isn’t near me when the agency calls? What if I am not prepared for a baby? Did I choose the right Sunday School curriculum? Did I buy the right car seat?

See if there is any offensive way.

Anxiety will come. Ugly thoughts will come. Lord, please point out these things… identify them… bring them to mind… let me see them… Forgive me for them.

And lead me in the way ever lasting.

But let me have hope. This is why these verses are so sweet. If we ask him, God will expose the secrets of our hearts, he will expose our anxious thoughts, he will point out the offensive stuff in us…

But ultimately He will give us hope. I am saved by the grace of his son… which means I have an everlasting hope. My heart is not perfect, but He’s working on it. My thoughts are sometimes out of control, but He’s molding them. My actions are too often offensive, but He’s changing me into his image.

And his change, his healing, his grace is everlasting. It is good.

What a wonderful God we serve. Amen and Amen.

Silence… it’s what’s for dinner.

Has anyone else felt the weight of silence recently? Particularly the weight of God’s silence in response to our prayers?

For as long as I can remember my father has been reading through My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers (1874-1917). For those who don’t know, this is a daily devotional published by Chambers who was a Scottish minister and teacher. The book is actually a collection of his teachings compiled by his wife, after his death.

Well, back in October I decided it would be nice to start reading through these devotionals myself. Sure, I’ve read them off and on, but haven’t consistently read them through. So, I purchased a new copy, and have been reading them since October… the starts of a pretty good habit.

The first entry I read was on Oct 11 and was on the topic of silence. I presented this in our staff devotions this morning and thought I would share it with you here. Oswald writes,

“When He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was.” John 11:6

Has God trusted you with His silence – a silence that has great meaning? God’s silences are actually His answers. Just think of those days of absolute silence in the home at Bethany! Is there anything comparable to those days in your life? Can God trust you like that or are you still asking Him for a visible answer? God will give you the very blessings you ask if you refuse to go any further without them, but His silence is the sign that He is bringing you into an even more wonderful understanding of Himself. Are you mourning before God because you have not had an audible response? When you cannot hear God, you will find that He has trusted you in the most intimate way possible – with absolute silence, not a silence of despair, but one of pleasure, because He saw that you could withstand an even bigger revelation. If God has given you a silence, then praise Him – He is bringing you into the mainstream of his purposes. The actual evidence of the answer in time is simply a matter of God’s sovereignty. Time is nothing to God. For a while you may have said, “I asked God to give me bread, but He gave me a stone instead” (see Matthew 7:9). He did not give you a stone, but today you find that He gave you the “bread of life” (John 6:35).

A wonderful thing about God’s silence is that His stillness is contagious – it gets into you, causing you to become perfectly confident so that you can honestly say, “I know that God has heard me.” His silence is the very proof that He has. As long as you have the idea that God will always bless you in answer to prayer, He will do it, but He will never give you the grace of His silence. If Jesus Christ is bringing you into the understanding that prayer is for the glorifying of His Father, then He will give you the first sign of His intimacy – silence.


Did you read that last paragraph? “He will give you the first sign of His intimacy – silence.” Back in October I was immediately struck by that line, and by this passage. I am even more struck by it today. The past several years have been a season of waiting for us for schooling, jobs and most of all the start of our family. While we have watched with amazement at God’s provision in so many ways, we’re still waiting for that child and that waiting has taken place largely in silence. Sure, God has led us at certain points in this journey towards very specific steps, but for the most part we have walked this road in silence.  And that silence at times can seem deafening. And today (in particular) I am feeling this silence.

Back in September we learned from a family member of a young woman in Texas who was considering adoption for her baby. We came to find out that she wasn’t very far along, so we didn’t put much hope in that opportunity. But we did continue to pray for her, for her boyfriend, for my Aunt, for everyone involved in the situation. Today we found out that she has chosen to keep her baby. And although we had not put much hope in this opportunity, it was at least tangible. And we can’t help but grieve this news.


What I love about what Oswald Chambers writes is that he validates the silence for us. What do I mean? Brandon and I have lots of friends & family members who would say that if you just pray hard enough, God will do it. “Name it and claim it.” And I am a firm believer that God answers prayer. But when that prayer isn’t answered, what are we to do? Brandon and I both struggled with feelings of guilt that we hadn’t prayed hard enough for our child and I, in particular, struggled with doubts about the strength of my own faith. Surely if I was just a better Christian God would grant us this request…

But if what Chambers says is true, perhaps this extended time of silence is not because we have no faith, but because he feels that our faith (by the grace of His Spirit) can take it. Perhaps, this is His greatest sign of care for us.


There are days when I think that I would take a baby over anything that God may be teaching us in this journey. Then the Spirit intervenes by His great grace and we make it another day, another week, another month, another semester, another year… in silence.

Perhaps God has trusted us with his silence as a sign of His intimacy. Perhaps. I think we are going to choose  to believe that this time of extended silence can be a time of great intimacy with the Father.

And that’s pretty great.

Now, what to have for dinner…


Christmas is gone… but a new journal has come.

Today I took all the “Christmas” out of our house. And, while it’s nice to have the floor vacuumed, and no longer have such a large tree for our cat to climb on…

my house suddenly looks a little less cheery. And empty. It’s usually this time of year that I begin to wonder if I should have a tree up all year long… with appropriate seasonal decorations throughout the year, of course.

Maybe next year, but for now here I sit with all the Christmas gone.

In the last few years I have developed an annual tradition… in the beginning of January I buy a new journal. And when I sit down to write in that journal for the first time I take some time to read through the January entries of my journal from the previous year.

So, this past Saturday I bought this journal (and it might be my favorite one yet) and on Saturday I sat down to write. And as I looked over the past year’s entries, I found an interesting challenge. You see last year in January I had just finished two rounds of fertility treatments and I was tired. Very tired. I was a broken woman. I remember this time all too well. Some of the medication had caused fatigue, weight gain and I was simply tired.

But what struck me, is that even as I shared with God my hurt that this desire of my heart (the desire for a child) had not been fulfilled, I uttered my faith that he would fulfill it in his timing. And a little beleaguered, I moved forward with the year anticipating what God would do… hoping that 2010 we would meet our baby.

Well 2010 did not bring us a child, but it did bring us faith. Looking back over this past year I am amazed at the faith which God has demanded of us and the grace with which he has bestowed it. Now I’m not trying to say that I am a woman of great faith. No, I am weak. I am sinful. I am human. I am broken. And I am tired. But God has brought hope to my heart and hope to Brandon’s heart even amidst terrible pain.

And we made it. In 2010 there were many long nights of intense grieving (just as there was in 2009 and 2008), but God was faithful. And now I am starting this year with hope that in 2011 we will meet BabyO (as I am affectionately calling our son or daughter). I don’t know where they are, or what they look like… but they will be here.

And once again I am praying for faith. I have learned in the past few months that it is sometimes hard (but just as important) for us to praise God when things are going well. What do I mean? When I was in the midst of infertility I had no choice but to cling to the father. Sometimes I would yell, other times I would cry… but always I would go to him.. Where else could I go?

Now, as I sit in the hope that our child is coming through the beauty of adoption… I am learning that going to the father is harder. When I’m not as desperate, it can be easy to “put it off” till later.

But recently God has once again demanded faith, just as he bestowed it. I have come before him humbly asking that he would direct my heart, direct my hands and direct my words & thoughts in this time of waiting. As possible birthmoms come our way, give us hope. As I feel envy or bitterness creep in, cleanse me. And as we (Brandon & I) move forward with difficult decisions, give us your wisdom, your discernment, your grace.

I’m not tired in the same way I was last year at this time. But I am still very much in need of a Savior.

It’s gonna be a great year.

It’s that time of year…

How is it that every year I am surprised by how close Thanksgiving is to Christmas?

This year especially it seems that this Christmas season has snuck up on me. Sure, I’ve decorated my house and have even bought a few Christmas presents (although not near as many I should have)… but I still feel like it must be November… it can’t be close to Christmas yet.

When everything seems to be creeping in on me, it makes it hard for me to stop and to ponder what this season is all about. Brandon and I have the joy of being apart of a church that celebrates the Season of Advent very intentionally. And this year I have found new meaning in this season of waiting. As we wait for our own baby, we get a small glimpse of the joy for Mary, Joseph and everyone involved in our Lord’s birth.

And we understand why the true celebration doesn’t start until the birth of Jesus. Yes, we know what’s coming, but it’s not here yet. So while we prepare and we ponder and we get excited… our utmost excitement isn’t coming just yet. Our incredibly joy and excitement found in the birth of our Lord wont be here till He is.

And so our joy of being parents. Sure we are preparing and we are excited about what will happen, but we know that the true joy will come when our baby comes. And what joy that will be!!

What a blessing to wait for our Lord.

Just a thought…

Learning to walk with the Good Shepherd

Well it’s only 2:45 p.m. but today has been quite a day for this nanny.

My day started with a lovely breakfast with my WONDERFUL husband at my favorite place… true it was his birthday, but I enjoy bacon jut as much… so fun was had by all! For those of you who don’t know, I am blessed with a wonderful man to do life with. He is compassionate, strong, wise, funny, insanely SMART, patient, passionate and just plain amazing. I love the heart he has for those around him… I love how he loves the Lord… I love how he guides our family… I am blessed by how he loves me. I have no doubt he will be a wonderful daddy… and hopefully soon! 🙂

Anyways, after breakfast I joyfully went on to see my girls (J, 3 yrs old and T, 15 mo) and then excitedly took them to the Arboretum to spend the morning with friends… for all of us! (Thanks, Annika!)

The morning started great… big girl had a great time playing and running, little girl got into all sorts of precarious positions (which is fun for her!) and I was enjoying being outside on our unseasonably warm day. And then came the tantrum… I can’t totally remember what started it and I am certain I handled it badly… but for the next 10-15 minutes (what seemed like an eternity) big girl proceeded to cry and kick and scream… I felt totally inadequate and slightly embarrassed…

Being a school morning, there were moms with young kids everywhere. Many of them looked on with sweet smiles and sympathetic looks. Otherwise showed their disapproval… and I spoke to my 3 year old charge in soft tones.

And eventually we calmed down, ate our snack and proceeded to share very sweetly with those around her. She spoke very sweetly to me, and very willingly got into the car later to go home. And just 5 minutes on the road… and BOTH girls were passed out. It was wonderful. We arrived home, ate some lunch and now both are down for nap / quite time. True there were a few more time-outs between lunch and quiet time, but it came!

And I’m a little bit tired… but I also find myself very thankful. My time since the tantrum has been wonderful. Big girl has shared sweetly with her sister, has been eager to cuddle and ate all of her lunch without much complaint.

And we got to do one of my favorite activities. A few weeks ago i became newly excited about the possibility of combining my “research” with my nanny job. What is my research? My specialty is in Spiritual Formation with kids.. specifically how theology fits into the picture. I have had the chance to speak to a few different groups and even write a few articles on the subject. And I am frequently allowed the opportunity to see how this works with larger groups of kids and to engage in this beautiful thing…And this is definitely my primary responsibility at the church… and it’s one of my favorite things.

Well lately I have been introducing J (the 3 year old) to the parable of the good Shepherd from Young Children and Worship. Those of you who know this curriculum will share my excitement. Those of you unfamiliar… basically this is a contemplative approach to ministry with children. The story is told with simple materials in a very soft, very slow and very reverent way. The materials are pictured to the right. And research and personal experience has shown that young children seem to identify in a very special way with this particular parable of the Good Shepherd. I have also found the telling of this story to be particularly good for me… it has become a wonderful ministry to my heart!

So I’ve been doing this story with J just before her quiet time and it has been such a blessing. Immediately she began to ask for it more regularly and I find her saying many of the parts of the story in her own play with her toys. When I began to work with the materials, she will respond just as I do with soft, careful touches… soft whispers…

And after a tough day, I need this sweet, reverent time with my young charge.  And what a beautiful story to remind us that our Good Shepherd walks with us to the good green grass, to the still, quiet waters and to the dark spots… J and I both needed this. What beauty is found as we are guided by the Good Shepherd. What true joy.

Thanks for reading.