Comparison is a thief

1 Timothy 6:6, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

I stood amazed in her living room. Her home looked like a picture from a magazine, with a charming, farmhouse style throughout. Scented candles were burning, filling the air with a warm, vanilla scent, and every surface was spotless. Each throw pillow and blanket was in its place on the stain-free, white sofa, and I felt like I could have eaten off the kitchen floor. Pristine and beautiful are the words that came to mind. “Lord, my house has never been this clean or this beautiful. And she has children!” I thought to myself.

A few hours before, my friend had sent me a text inviting me and my children over for a play date. I was so excited for my boys to have friends to run around with and for some much needed grown-up conversation over coffee with my friend. But, as soon as I walked through the door, I almost let my joy and excitement be robbed all because of one little word: comparison.

There is a familiar quote by Theodore Roosevelt that says, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Oh boy, did I experience this that day! Looking around her home, my heart was filled with jealousy. I entertained lies that said what I had was no longer good enough, pretty enough, or clean enough. I began thinking how I might could change my décor to be more like hers, or how long it would take me to scrub my house as clean as hers.

Thankfully, the Lord quickly stopped this cycle of thoughts by bringing to mind this truth from His word: “But godliness with contentment is great gain…if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that (1 Timothy 6:6,8).” Contentment- the total opposite of comparison. Here are a few differences between comparison and contentment:

Comparison says, “What God has given me is lacking.”

Contentment says, “God gives me everything I need.”

Comparison says, “I always need more to make me happy.”

Contentment says, “Satisfaction and joy are found in Jesus, not things.”

Comparison leads to disobedience, pride, and selfishness.

Contentment leads to obedience, humility, and selflessness.

Like me, we will all be tempted at one point or another to compare ourselves to what others have, but freedom and joy will always found in believing that what God has given us will always be more than enough.

Lord, fix my eyes on you and not the world around me. Help me to be satisfied only in you and grateful for how you continually meet my needs.


How to help someone grieving


Ever since I entered the blogging world, most all that I’ve had on my heart to write has been the spiritual lessons I’ve learned along our journey of loss and adoption. The Lord has been so good to me, and I wouldn’t trade the close walk I’ve had with him the past few years for anything in the world. When something is that good, it just has to overflow.

However, I’ve had a few years to do some reflection on something that I feel is very important and not talked about enough. That is, from my personal experience, how can I help someone who is grieving?

Grief is such an uncomfortable place to be, both for the one who has lost and for those who are walking beside someone grieving. Most people, I’ve found, really don’t know how to handle grief at all. Because of that, we end up saying the wrong things, not saying anything at all, or worst yet, avoiding the issue altogether.

So, while I’m not an expert by any means, here are a few things (in no particular order) I’ve learned from my season of loss that I believe may be the most helpful to you.

  1. Awkward silences are OKAY.  Yes, I understand that sitting in silence with someone hurting is very uncomfortable. We are a people who love words, and when words aren’t being spoken we find ourselves thinking of what we might could say to fill the awkward void. But, many times those moments of silence can be meaningful and healing for the person hurting. They’re times to think, process, or let your mind rest. When trauma and loss is fresh and new, your mind can be bombarded with thoughts and questions. The last thing you need is more words and thoughts to process.  One good example of this from the Word of God is actually from Job’s “friends,” believe it or not. While they made quite a few mistakes and said some very hurtful words, the best thing they did for Job was to come and sit in silence with him for SEVEN days (Job 2:13). How many of us are willing to make ourselves uncomfortable for an entire week in order to minister to another who is hurting? But I tell you this in love– do it anyway.
  2. Give the person grieving opportunities to speak of the loved one they lost. Sometimes the most healing thing you can do is let the person talk about the one they miss the most. Often we go to great lengths to avoid the subject, thinking we might upset the person if we bring up the loved one’s name. Actually, it couldn’t be more opposite. Letting your grieving friend talk about their lost loved one can actually be very life-giving. It sends the message that you valued their life, and that can be the very best gift to give your friend!
  3. Remember important days. Grief comes in waves, and some of those waves hit the hardest on certain days. Birthdays, anniversaries of the day they passed, wedding anniversaries–while they can bring wonderful memories, they can also be reminders of the void left when their loved one passed. Try to remember those days (I know it can be hard), and send a card, make a phone call, shoot them a text, make a visit, or offer a hug.
  4. As much as you want to, don’t try to fix them. The only thing that will “fix” the grief they feel is the Lord binding their wounds and healing their hearts (Psalm 147:3). There is no Christian cliche that can fix their pain. In my experience, those little quips can actually be really hurtful. Sayings like “just trust God” or “everything happens for a reason,” while well intended, very rarely offer comfort. Resist the urge to say them. Instead, pray for them. Tell them you love them. Cook them a meal. Hold them when they cry. Ask them if there’s something they need. Those are the things that help the most.

And if you’re reading this and you are the one who has been walking through a season of grief, what I would say to you is this:

  1. Be gracious to people. Grief is hard, but it’s hard on those trying to offer you comfort, too. So many people say and do things that aren’t helpful because they care SO much about you. They just wish they could take away your pain, and they hurt right along with you. Offer them grace, even when they mess up.
  2. God is able to handle ALL of your emotions. Bring him your anger, your disappointment, your sadness, your confusion, your shock, your deep, deep hurt. Bring HIM all your broken pieces. Not only is He strong enough to handle your hurt, but He hurts right along with you. He’s just as angry as you are that you lost a child, parent, or spouse. He never wanted you to experience death. That wasn’t in His original plan; it was a result of sin. He knew how much sin would hurt you, and that’s why He gave His own Son to be hurt and die for you. He’s been the “parent” who watched His son die, but He’s also the one who brought death to life. He can and He will redeem what is broken in your life. Keep giving it all to Him.
  3. Don’t rush your grief. Just because someone else seems to have it all together a month after his or her loss, does not mean your faith is weak because you’re still hurting. Your journey is your journey, and God is writing your own story at an entirely different pace than that other person. He will make it beautiful in His time.

I hope these are helpful to someone. My family has been blessed to have so many people who loved us through our grief. To all those who sat through the awkward silences and have supported us along our journey, the words “thank you” will never be enough. May the Lord bless you for all your loving kindness toward us, and may the Lord bless you as you comfort others.


But the fruit of the Spirit is…Patience

Patience. Now there’s a word that will make most anyone roll their eyes or cringe at the very thought of it.

Ask anyone, and most people will boast of how little patience they show to others or in the waiting of daily life. And when I say boast, I mean it. Lack of patience is almost spoken of in a bragworthy tone. “Patience is just not my thing.” “Don’t pray for patience, or God will test you.” “I’m just not a patient person. That’s not who I am. I can’t help it.” You get the idea.

Actually, I get it really well lately. Our adoption waiting game has gotten the best of me on more than just a day or two recently. Our t’s are crossed and our i’s dotted. All of the things that we can physically control are in order. Yet, here we sit waiting on the Lord to do his perfect work of bringing our daughter into our lives at the perfect time, and I’m spiritally pacing the floor. Cue the control freak in me! The force is strong!

Y’all, I want to wait this thing out so well. I want to be able to tell my daughter how I joyfully waited for her and prayed every day without an ounce of doubt or worry. I desperately want the Lord to be pleased with my heart and how we trusted Him fully with every step. And while most days I can honestly say that’s true of me, sometimes my flesh gets the best of me and I fail. I find my patience wearing thin, and I have a conversation with God where I inform him how we could get this ball rolling if He’d just let me help!

The last few years of our lives have been put through the fire. From the moment we conceived our Collier in early 2017 until now, having handed him and our baby Isaac back to the Lord, we have been tested. In triumphs quickly followed by brutal disappointment, we have waited for three years now for another baby in our home. I don’t say that to get pity or sympathy, I promise! I simply write that to say, patience is hard. Being faithful to the Lord isn’t always a walk in the park. Waiting can be exhausting, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

And so, on the hard days, I have to go back to the Word of God.

I look at Hannah, who while she longed for a child, postured herself at the altar in worship. She poured her heart out in humility to the one who knows her best because He made her. He heard her prayer, blessed her, and answered in His time.

I look at Abraham and Sarah who were barren until they were well advanced in years (Lord, please let us adopt before we’re 80 years old!). They remained faithful (except for the Hagar thing) and God answered in His time, above and beyond what they expected.

I look at all those who prayed and prayed and prayed and kept the faith when it seemed to their eyes nothing was changing. Yet, God always came through in a way that no one could take credit for but Himself!

I look at Galatians, which tells me patience is a fruit of the Spirit. While I want a baby, what I want more is for the character of Christ to be developed in me so that people praise Him, not me.

And, I look to Jesus. I will keep my eyes fixed on Him because He is perfect, and everything is beautiful in His time. I will not boast in patience or the lack there of, but I will boast in Jesus. He will keep giving me the ability to wait, a reason to wait, joy as I wait, and a payoff at the end that is totally worth it.

Lord, I will wait on you. You are worth it, and so much more!


Life, Growth, and Living Water


66374945_435071714008701_1894739893670641664_n“Hello blog readers…good to see ya…it’s been a long tiiimmme…”

Someone cue the Conway Twitty.

It has been quite a while since my last post. Life as a youth pastor’s wife with young children can get a little crazy at times, especially during the summer. These summer days have been full-speed ahead, and the only good spare time I’ve had for writing is at bedtime. By that time, my brain is mush, and let’s face it people…sleep wins. every. single. time.

My days at home with the boys this summer have been so sweet. I have enjoyed every day I get to spend with them, and I refuse to acknowledge that school is just around the corner. I’m in complete denial that I’ll have a second grader and a kindergartener. (If ever I’ve had the temptation to home school, it would be now!)

I’m even more in denial that, unless Caroline comes between now and August 5th,  I’ll have zero children in my house from 8:00 to 3:00 during the school days.

This is not ok. My mother instinct is whispering it’s need to nurture something.  So, I did what any other mother would do. I got a puppy, and I’ve turned the rest of my nurturing attention to plants.

Yes, you read that right, plants.

I don’t have a green thumb on my body, never have. My sister recently referred to me as a plant hospice worker, sending plants straight on to Jesus. I suppose that’s pretty accurate, and while I haven’t even come close to turning our yard into a beautiful garden utopia– I’m mostly just re-learning how to keep plants alive at this point– I have come to realize that I kinda like the process of caring for them.

As always, it makes me think. If you haven’t figured me out yet, I’m always thinking, analyzing, and rethinking. Caring for plants really does teach me something. Flowers can’t live without water. They can’t grow larger without water, the sun, and a little fertilizer. They’ll choke on weeds, and they’re so much more beautiful when you take the time to pluck off the dead blooms and wilted leaves. Sometimes they just need a little pruning.

And so do I.

So, here’s what this process is teaching me. It’s nothing you probably haven’t heard before, but it’s on my mind and I want to share it with you.

Like my flowers, I definitely can’t live without water, living water. On days I neglect my time with God, I’m starving myself. I’m taking steps toward being spiritually dehydrated. The word of God is water to my soul, and it can’t just be a part of my life. It has to BE my source of life. It feeds me. It helps me grow. It’s life to my bones because it’s the words of the One who made me written TO me. I can’t live without it, or I’ll wither. I’ll shrivel up. I’ll die.  But, when I spend time reading it and soaking in it’s truth, I’m like a tree planted by a stream of water which does not whither and yields fruit in season (Ps. 1).

But, sometimes weeds come creeping in. They look pretty and green. Sometimes they even resemble a flower, but they’re not. They overtake and wrap around to choke out the life and turn what once was pretty into an eye sore. There’s all different kinds, but they do the same thing. They steal my time and attention, and they cause me to waste water on what looks like a flower but really isn’t. Time on my phone when I could be reading or paying attention to my family. Filling my day with good things, but leaving little to no time for the best things, like reading my boys their devotion at bedtime because everyone’s already too tired. Doing ‘religious’ activities while forgetting my personal time with God. Doing good intended acts, none of which result in anything meaningful or fruitful . These are the weeds that need to be uprooted and tossed out. They’re not worth it. They’re life-killers, joy-stealers, and time-robbers.

Then comes the hard part for me. The dead-heading. This is when the Lord has to, sometimes painfully, pluck away the parts of me that are ugly. There are many of these, trust me! Selfishness and pride. Vanity. When I wear my feelings on my sleeve. When I’m short-tempered instead of giving a soft answer. When I roll my eyes and have a terrible attitude. When I don’t set a good example for my kids with my words. When I don’t respect and love my husband well. When my priority is M-E and no one else. When life tests me and I do not ooze Jesus, then I have to let Him do some pruning so that something beautiful will grow in the ugly places. Something like what Galatians talks about– love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, long-suffering and self-control.

Then, when I abide in Him and He does His work, something really beautiful happens. New growth begins to form and take shape. Beauty blossoms, stretches tall towards the Son, and spreads. It’s a process only He can do in me, and when I let Him, it’s so worth all the painful pruning.

I love when God teaches me through a simple, every-day task. I want everything about my life to be beautiful to Him, not full of weeds and dead, ugly, wasted places. I want Him to have all of me because He gave me all of Himself. I want Him to do His work in me so that I bear fruit for Him and ooze Jesus to the world.

So, come and do Your work in me, Lord. Prune all the dead, uninviting places away and uproot the weeds that choke life out of me. Bring new life and growth, and I pray Your living water will grow something lovely out of my life for You glory and Your splendor.









While I’m Waiting


Adoption update: there’s not one. At least not yet. For those of you wondering where we are in the process, everything has been turned in, t’s crossed and i’s dotted, and we have set up camp here in the “waiting place.”

Let me be quite honest–I’m not very good at waiting sometimes. I am unfortunately a product of my generation in many ways, the generation of instant everything. I have fast food, texting, and everything I can imagine at my immediate disposal through the phone I carry in my purse everywhere I go. How did any of us ever survive without that little device? (insert sarcasm) And while sometimes instant can certainly be a blessing, let’s be real. It’s really not doing any of us a favor. Unfortunately, the result from instant everything is the breeding of a grown-up version of toddlers. We want what we want when we want it. The end. Cue the tantrums.

But this waiting place, I’m finding, is proving to be a really beautiful place. There is so much to learn, soak in, and appreciate when everything is, once again, completely out of my control and all I can do is trust that God’s wisdom and timing are infinitely perfect and completely in line with His plan, which by the way, is so much bigger than me. His plan is kingdom-minded, eternity focused. (Sidenote: let me add I’ve not been waiting that long. I’ve only been “expecting” 6 months!)

And something else I’ve learned about waiting– it is sanctifying.

Waiting teaches me to pray. It slows me down to not just rattle off my requests to God, but to stop and listen to His still, small voice. It reminds of the truth that says if I delight myself in the Lord, He will give me the desires of my heart. And I know that if I’m delighting in Him, I’ll ask for His will to be done and not my own.

Waiting teaches me that roadblocks and setbacks are, more times than not, blessings. It’s so hard to see them that way when we’re in the thick of it, but sometimes what looks like the “perfect solution” would be so much less than perfect. It might actually be the worst. So I’m reminded that when obstacles come, they first have to filter through the hands of God, who knows exactly how to accomplish His own plan.

Waiting teaches me to reconcile my faith and my feelings. When I’m tempted to be fearful, doubtful, or discouraged, God hasn’t ever changed nor has He left me alone. I’ve certainly learned this more than I ever have the last year or two. No matter what I feel, He’s still close to me and diligently working, bringing all things together for good.

Waiting teaches me contentment. Truthfully, while a new baby will certainly bring joy, I can’t look to what our future family will be to find my ultimate fulfillment. I can choose to be joyful right now, in the waiting. Not to sound cliche, but my lasting satisfaction can only come and will only come from learning to be content in Christ–nothing more, nothing less. Even if we adopt 10 children, they cannot bring me the same joy that Jesus does. So waiting reminds me to lean closer to my Savior and find rest in Him. My joy is found in all that HE is.

I don’t want to waste this season of waiting by hoping for the next-best-thing. I’m praying that I remain thankful for each stage of this adoption, as each one has proven over and over the faithfulness of God. I can’t wait to tell Caroline all about it one day!

If you’re reading this, I’m sure there are some of you who may be in a “waiting season” of your own. So many reasons for that could be listed here, but I can promise you one thing–while you’re waiting, God hasn’t forgotten you. He’s got His eye on you, His arm around you, and His hand guiding you. While the timing and details may not seem like a blessing, if you look and listen closely, there are so many things He wants to show you while you’re waiting. Most of all, He wants you to love Him the most.

So, I’ll keep waiting with joy and confidence in the Lord, knowing that He is working for me, and not against me. Maybe next time I write, they’ll be some GREAT news to tell, but if not that will be ok too.

“I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord (Psalm 27:13).”



God in Every Season


Today is my kind of day. It’s quiet. The smell of coffee is drifting through the house and I’m curled up in a warm, plush blanket listening to the rain fall outside. If there was a movie playing right about now and my cat was curled up in my lap, I think I could rule this moment as nothing short of perfection. All five of my senses are happy and fully satisfied right now. I’m completely peaceful.

Another Christmas has come and gone, and for someone who loves all that is associated with the holidays, I’ve already packed away our indoor decorations until next year. While I’ve enjoyed the hustle and bustle, carols, lights, gifts, and excitement, the joy of Christmas unfortunately can’t last forever. Change has to come; it’s time for a new season.

I’ve been thinking a lot about seasons lately. It’s no secret that for our family winter came and decided to enjoy an extended stay. For many months it’s been cold and bleak, and I think I speak for everyone when I say that we all wished we could fly away to somewhere warmer or hibernate until it all passed. The one thing I’ve learned during our winter, however, is while the sun may not be as bright or felt as close, it hasn’t changed its position. It’s still there, even when we can’t feel it.

The same is true with God. There have been many moments this past year when I couldn’t feel Him or see Him, but that doesn’t mean He moved. He never changes, no matter what is changing all around me. I’ve learned that in a way I never imagined. I’ve been forced to face this season of winter head on, and to trust God when He wasn’t necessarily “visible.” But looking back over this past year, I can see His fingerprints on everything. Because He doesn’t leave us when things and people around us die and leave us bare and vulnerable.

He is God in every season.

He’s God when winter ends and spring comes. When mourning is over and new life begins to bud and bloom. When the sun’s warmth can be felt again after a time of silence and extreme cold.

He’s the God of our summers. When the temperatures rise in life, and maybe for you that’s meant being held to the fire in an intense season of testing. The pressure builds and the heat increases to the point where it almost feels sweltering and unbearable. Right when you think it can’t get any hotter, fall comes and breaks the intensity a little. Spiritually, maybe that means you’ve passed the test and can relax and breathe. God didn’t move when the pressure was on. He remained steady, giving you endurance until “fall” came.

He’s God in “autumn,” the in-between season when life is good. You’ve passed your test and you can rest before winter comes. Leaves are changing and everything is crisp, cool and beautiful. You can’t imagine life being more perfect, even though fall is preparing for winter and spring. Everything is good and maybe it’s in our fall seasons when we depend on God the least because we feel we don’t need Him as much. That doesn’t mean He changes. He remains unmoved, even we our dependency waivers a little.

What I’m saying is that God can be trusted and He remains the same in every season of our lives. Just like the sun never changes its place, neither does our God. He is faithful no matter what is going on around us.

For our family, I believe for now our winter has ended and spring is here again. Our intense season of grief is changing to a time of celebration as we anticipate our sweet Caroline through adoption. I have no idea what she will be like, but I know that if she is sent to us by God, she will be the perfect gift because He is faithful. He’s been with us in every single, changing season. He’s proving His faithfulness through every step of our adoption.

I wonder which season you would say you’re in right now. I don’t you or the details of your life, but I pray today that you’ll believe with all your heart that while everything may be stripped away and laid bare around you, God never ever moves. If death or disease have come unannounced and God feels distant or silent, He’s not. If the heat is on and you’re being tested beyond what you can bear, trust His strength. And if everything in life is good and it doesn’t feel like you “need Him,” lean into Him even more. No matter what your season, He wants to be your God in it. How I pray you’ll let him.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens..” Ecc. 3:1


Even If

If I were to ask you right now to tell me your your greatest, most intense fear, what would you tell me?

I’m not talking about spiders, snakes, crowded places, or fear of heights. I’m talking about the fears that leave you paralyzed just thinking about them. The life-altering ones. The ones that make you instantly feel sick to your stomach. The fears that, if they came to pass, might change the life you always imagined for yourself.

I remember sitting in our ladies discipleship class one Sunday night as we listened to a teaching DVD by Beth Moore. Her words seemed to resonate with me that night, as she described her thoughts on this very thing– fear. I guess I was so intrigued by what she was saying because a large part of my life has been spent playing tug of war between faith and fear over one thing or another, mostly the life-altering fears. I’ll never forget what she said; it has stuck with me ever since. “If the thing you fear most were to happen, then what? Would you trust the Lord, even if?” (paraphrased)

At that time, I was four months pregnant with Collier and had no idea that just two months later, my greatest fear would become reality. Not only once, but a year later it would be a nightmare-turned-reality twice.

I’m not sure exactly how to word what I guess I had been thinking without saying up until that point, but it might go something like this: “Lord, I will trust you, but please don’t let anything horrible happen in my life. I know You’re strong and able, but I don’t want to go through anything hard. No losses, no tragedies, no disease. Just keep all the majorly difficult stuff away, and we’ll be good. Deal?”

Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works. God doesn’t shelter us from adversity. He doesn’t withhold hardship. He doesn’t keep all our greatest fears from happening (even though most of them probably won’t). He enters the fire with us.

I love the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. It’s always been a favorite, but it has a deeper, more significant meaning to me now. These three young men were serving God faithfully, unashamed, wholeheartedly–and adversity came anyway. I love what they said; it’s such a bold declaration of faith!  “We know the one we serve CAN save us, but even if He doesn’t, we still choose to serve Him.” (paraphrase)

Did God save them from hardship? NO. What happens was even better–He entered the fire with them. I get chills every time I read this.  “Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, ‘Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?…Look! I see FOUR men walking around, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:24-25)

If that doesn’t get your heart pumping, you might want to check your pulse! Y’all, God doesn’t promise to remove your difficult circumstances or shelter you from them. He promises to walk with you in the midst of it!! He enters your pain and suffering with you.  His presence goes before you, behind you, and beside you. And in the midst of your trouble, He removes the ties that bind you so that you can walk unbound and unharmed. What a great and mighty God! My eyes are full of tears right now just thinking about it.

See, if He removed all of your difficulty, it would also remove the opportunities for Him to reveal His glory to a lost and dying world. What resulted from the the fiery furnace? People saw the glory of God and were changed. Those who were enemies of God put their trust in Him. And the three in the fire? They came out without even a hint of a smell of smoke!

ONLY GOD can do that. And He’s done it for me. My greatest fear wasn’t kept from me. It happened twice, and the Lord has been with me through it all. He has walked with me through the fire, and has brought glory to Himself in the worst of circumstances! Has it been enjoyable? No! But through it all, God has put his glory on display and accomplished more than I “could have ever asked or imagined (Eph 3:20).”

So even if Lord, I will trust you. If my greatest fears continue to become reality, I will praise you in the midst of the fire, because You’ll walk with me. Use me up and pour me out for the glory of Your name. You are worth it, even if.

Beauty From Ashes

Today, for the first time in months, I opened up the nursery door and left it open a little while.

I’ve lost count of how many days I’ve walked down the hallway, passing that door,  only to feel warm tears well up in my eyes and feel the same, familiar ache resurface in my heart. I’ve laid curled up on the nursery floor, weeping until my whole body became physically exhausted. Many nights, I’ve sat in the rocking chair in the dark, pouring my heart out to the Lord, asking Him to give me the strength to keep trusting Him when I don’t know how. I’ve mourned over a room that should have been filled with life, cries, and baby giggles, but instead has remained silent and empty for over a year. I’ve left the door closed, and sometimes locked, because for so many reasons it’s just been too hard.

But not today.  Coming through the window there is a beam of light shining after the rain has stopped, and instead of feeling sadness, there’s something new stirring. Hope. Joy. New life beginning to form again in a once dead place.

Our adoption journey to bring a baby girl home has begun! God is once again doing a new thing in our family, and in just a matter of time this once dead place in our home will burst baby cries again. The sound of baby giggles again. New life, again. To God alone be all the glory!

When I first started this blog, I immediately new what I wanted to name it. The title “Beauty for Ashes” comes from a verse in Isaiah that I have clung to with my life since July 25, 2017–the day we lost Collier. It says:

“To comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair (Isaiah 61:3).”

This verse has given me hope on the hardest days. It’s comforted my heart and reminded me that God will not leave His children in despair. It’s spoken truth to my mind when the Enemy has tried to fill it with lies. It’s God’s promise to me that He will bring beauty from ashes. He will restore life to dead places. It’s what He does.

Have you ever wondered why the islands of Hawaii are so beautiful? It’s because they are surrounded by volcanoes. That sounds a little backwards, I know. When a volcano initially erupts, it destroys life. The heat from the ash and lava will kill any plants, animals or people that are in it’s deadly path. However, over time what results is the most rich, fertile soil for life to grow. Once the ash cools, some of the largest, most luscious plants can flourish, yielding some of the most beautiful landscape you’ve ever seen. The beauty of the Hawaiian islands is the result of deadly, volcanic ash. Beauty came from the ashes.

I cannot recount all the beautiful things that God has done in my life amidst all the ash. He has restored dead places of my heart. He has taught me to trust Him more fully. He has drawn me to the beauty of His character and how wonderful of a Savior He is. He has strengthened my faith and given me the power to endure the most trying year of my life. He has given me opportunities to share with others of His goodness. He has strengthened our family and shown my children He’s able to be trusted and worthy of worship. He has made me fall in love with who He is more than I ever have. When I think of all the beauty He’s grown from the ashes, I can’t help but be emotional. He is such a good, good God!!

I want you to know that God can do the same in your life. He truly does love you with an everlasting love, and He wants to restore the broken places of your life. He wants to bring beauty from the ash heap you’re sitting among, wondering what He could possibly do with your mess. Friend, if you’re sitting in the middle of ash, you’re in the perfect place for God to do something beautiful, for Him to restore life to dead places.

Today, I pray you’ll open any doors that have been too painful to unlock. I pray you’ll let the light shine in and allow Him to grow beauty from your ashes.


Bring the Rain


Yesterday, my husband and I were looking through boxes trying to put our hands on a very important document. Unfortunately, that document is still M.I.A. right now, but in the process I came across a box of old photos. I’m not sure about you, but I love nostalgia, those walks down memory lane through pictures. Some were taken when we were dating, some from our wedding, and others from when the boys weren’t yet old enough to walk or talk. I might have gotten a little teary-eyed a time or two. What I kept thinking, however, was how much more simple life was then…

Life before the rain came.

If you would have told me when those pictures were taken that our lives would be in the place they are now, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Maybe I would have denied it, or maybe I would have become crippled with fear, not wanting to move forward into a future with a sign flashing, “Pain Up Ahead. Proceed with Caution.”

The truth is, whether we realized it or not, we have been preparing for these storms long before they came crashing in, unannounced. We were preparing for it back when those pictures were taken. Back when life was simple and much more carefree.

There is a passage in Luke that reminds me of this, and you probably are pretty familiar with it yourselves. You might recognize it more from the children’s song. It goes like this:

“The wise man built his house upon the rock.

The wise man built his house upon the rock.

The wise man built his house upon the rock.

And the rain came tumbling down.

Oh, the rain came down and the floods came up.

The rain came down and the floods came up.

The rain came down and the floods came up.

And the house on the rock stood firm.” 

I’m not patting ourselves on the back by claiming to be wise. What I am saying is that preparation for a storm begins long before it hits. Think about it, you can’t wait until the eye of a hurricane is hovering over your house and then start boarding your windows and collecting batteries, candles, water, and all the essentials to ride out the storm. Those things are done in advance.

Spiritually, it’s how we live in advance that determines how we weather the storm. It’s those early morning times with the Lord over cups and cups of coffee, before the rat race of the day begins. It’s those times of praying, pouring out your heart to the Lord. It’s the times when your prayers seem to bounce right off the ceiling and you wonder if it even matters that you voice them. But you do it anyway. It’s taking your kids to church when you doubt that all the effort just to get there is worth it. It’s loving people who are unloveable. It’s gritting your teeth through tough days, and pushing through while all you can manage to pray is “help!” It’s remaining faithful when you want to give up. It’s telling God everyday, “I trust you.”

Serving Jesus in the daily grind and the mundane. Doing what is right when it doesn’t seem to make a difference. Staying the course when everything is going right and it doesn’t feel like you “need” God as much (LIE!). These are the preparation days for the storms. Deciding to serve the Lord NOW before the storms come.

Those pictures were the simple, day-in, day-out times. Life was good. We didn’t know the pain of losing children. We hadn’t been beaten by tough winds and heavy rain. We hadn’t yet faced all the pain that has come into our lives this past year. But I’m thankful that we’ve been building our house upon the Rock this whole time. The rains have come and beat upon our house, but it’s still standing. We’re not the same people as the ones in those pictures. We’re stronger in many ways, and our desire is to trust God more fully than we ever have,  with hands and arms wide open. With unclinched fists.

There’s a reason God doesn’t show us the bumps, roadblocks, and detours up ahead. He doesn’t give us a forecast of furious storms brewing. We’re simply not strong enough to be entrusted with that knowledge. But He is, and He is calling you to a life of faithfulness now, in the calmness of your life. He’s the one who will carry you through the storm, who will strengthen you in the midst of it, and who will bring you out on the other side, stronger than you were before. Not only that, He can take the wreckage of your storm’s aftermath and paint a beautiful rainbow up against the darkest sky. He can use your storm, and He will use it to bring glory to Himself.

If God has received any glory, attention and honor through our journey so far–if even one person has been pointed to Jesus through our storms- then the pain is worth every second. That’s extremely difficult to say and hasn’t been easy to learn. But if pain is what it takes for people to know Him, then…

Jesus…..bring the rain. 

Let’s Be Honest


The other day, I was having a conversation with a close friend. One of those good, heart-to-heart talks that all of us girls need from time to time–you know the ones. About halfway through, she gave me a sincere and humbling compliment. Her words were, “You don’t act like you have it all together, and that makes me feel like I can come to you with anything.”

Wow. Before you start accusing me of getting a big head, understand how undeserving I felt hearing that. Mostly because I know how many past times I’ve tried to “have it all together.” It’s exhausting, and since going through our losses, I’ve decided to give up trying. Why? Because I definitely do NOT have it all together, and I believe there is power in transparency and bearing each other’s burdens.

If you look through Scripture, you’ll find pages upon pages of imperfect people. One of my favorite passages is 2 Corinthians 11. If we were at a modern day anonymous meeting, these verses would be the point where Paul stands up, introduces himself to the group, and begins to explain his weaknesses.

“Hi, I’m Paul. I’ve been imprisoned, flogged, exposed to death, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked three times, constantly on the move, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger at sea, in danger from false brothers. I’ve gone without sleep, food, water, and have been cold and naked. I have been persecuted for the sake of the gospel. I have a thorn in my flesh that won’t go away. I’ve got problems.”

He’s not the only one…

Eve struggled with temptation and gave in (thanks, Eve).

Sarah was barren.

Leah wasn’t as pretty as her sister Rachel, and not as loved either.

Bathsheba had an affair with King David, and she lost her husband and her son who was conceived in adultery.

Esther was an orphan, raised by an uncle, and had the responsibility of saving her entire Jewish people at the risk of her own death.

Ruth and Naomi were both widowed.

Mary was a pregnant, unwed teenager.

There was the lady who bled for twelve years, the widow who lost her only son, the woman at the well who was searching for love and life, and Martha who worried too much about things that didn’t matter that much.

Those are just some of the women, and if I listed all the other examples of men and women who had stressful, life-altering problems, I could fill up the pages of a book. So why did God include all of these broken people from one cover of the Bible to the other? One reason, I believe, is to remind us that we are in good company. We all have our problems and we have a deep need for Him. Our weaknesses, stresses, and brokenness are constant reminders that we are never at a time that we do not need Him.

On our good days–we need Him.

On our bad days–we need Him.

On all our in-between days, we need Him just as much.

And we also need each other. Why do we spend so much time trying to convince others that we don’t have problems, knowing that couldn’t be more untrue? Take a few minutes to scroll through your newsfeed and you will find that most people only post the pictures that portray something happy. We try a new Pinterest cookie recipe and post a picture of perfectly delicious cookies, while the first batch we burned is behind us in the trash. It didn’t make it to the picture because it wasn’t perfect. Our kids are doing something cute? Let’s post it but delete the 100 takes before where everyone is crying or picking their noses.

Life isn’t picture-perfect. It’s messy, hard, and sometimes brutal. Everyday, people all over the world are given bad news, stressed about work, going through divorce, dealing with sickness, experiencing the pain of loss, and a myriad of other problems. No one has it all together. And no one is without a need for the Lord.

So let’s be honest. Instead of pretending, let’s take our masks off and be transparent. Let’s make ourselves approachable and available, willing to get our hands dirty by offering to uphold each other when life is messy. And while we’re being honest….

Hi, my name is Amy. I’m a perfectionist, worry too much sometimes about others’ opinions of me, and I sometimes struggle with believing I am enough. Everyday, I miss my babies, and because of my losses I can sometimes be crippled by anxiety. I need Jesus every single day of my life. If He doesn’t help me, I’ll fail. Without Him, there is nothing good about me. And finally, I do NOT have it all together.

That’s me being honest. Now it’s your turn.