November 9, 2015

Because sometimes stranger things do happen...

I started this blog five years ago (good grief, time flies!) mostly as a place to put down some thoughts and record stories that I didn't want to forget. I never expected anyone to read or follow and I've been blessed and humbled that anyone has.

So, first of all, thank you all for your kind comments and your encouragement over the years!

In this wonderful little corner of the blogosphere I have written stories, devotionals, poetry, pain, and sorrow, laughter and rejoicing, fear and deliverance. I've aimed to be transparent and point to Jesus in everything I wrote.

There were seasons I wrote and wrote and wrote and seasons of silence. This last year I really didn't write very often and, lately, I began to ask myself why.

I realized that over the past couple of years this blog has become too intense for me. I placed upon myself ridiculous expectations that often kept me from hitting "publish" on some good pieces that deserved a space and a chance to be read.

These self-inflicted expectations that a piece needed to move/challenge/change/convict, etc before it was any good were threatening my love for writing. The pure love that started the blog to begin with.

So I decided to start over. I'm going over here, to a brand new space called Stranger Things Have Happened in honor of this.

My life is busy. Crazy busy. And I just don't have the time I like to have to dedicate to the type of pieces this blog demands.

But I want to write. I need to write.

I want to write about our silly life. Slices of our days infused with humor and a pinch of sarcasm.

That's where we are right now.

Besides, I no longer live in a glass house, Glory, Hallelujah, Praise Be! But that's a story for a different day.

I may be here from time to time when something spills out of my keyboard that best suits this space so this is not good bye. I'm claiming this as my piece of virtual land, still.

But for now, this is where I'll be and I'd love for you to come over and visit.

Much, much love,


September 25, 2015

For When You Struggle to Trust

When everything is humming and life is working just as it should trusting God seems like second-nature to me. 

He is good! He is wise! He is faithful!

Then comes dissonance, a change in plans I did not choose, a moment that changes the harmony that were my days and doubt and fear push trust aside. 

He is far away. He has turned his face. He has forgotten me.

And I try to fix the problem.

I work, I strive, I stress. I talk to people and search for ways out. I chase after my own solutions and my own wisdom until I come to the end of my rope: this is beyond my hands.

But He won’t be forgotten and his message resonates:

Trust me, He says from every scripture I read.

Trust me, He reminds me as people casually ask without knowing my circumstances: "Are you trusting God?"

Trust me, he mutters as every song, devotional, and book chapter that cross my path prompt: "Trust God today."

And finally, slowly, once again, as I should have done from the beginning, as my last resort that should be first, with my last breath and no trace of pride I finally do.

I trust. I trust him. I let him have it all.

And after all these years…

I should know to do this first but I don’t.

I should know that rest will only come then but I don’t.

I should know to save my sanity but I don’t.

I should know better now but I don’t.

I should.

Because when I look back at my life over the last nearly twenty years I see the hand of God shaping my path unmistakably.

As I have obeyed his prompts He has molded my journey and twenty years ago I would never have imagined who I would be today and what my life would look like.

The labels by which I am known today are labels I never knew existed or would ever be associated with me! Minister’s wife, adoptive mom, homemaker, online instructor, homeschooler, women’s ministry enthusiast, small group leader, worship team member.

And God is never done with me. He is in constant motion of creating plans and dreaming dreams for me.

And while his plans and dreams can terrify me and overwhelm me as many have over the last two decades, I have stepped forth in faith time and time again trembling and groping in the dark, only to find his sure hand ready to hold mine through the journey.

And I’ve never been sorry.

So I want to know what is beyond today.

I want to know what new adventure He is planning for me now.

I feel the stirrings in my heart of a new beginning and, as much fear as that can inspire in me, I am learning to trust him. He knows what He is doing and He will carry me above the mountain that blocks my view of the fertile valley beyond.

But He seldom reveals anything beyond the very next step because He wants me to hold His hand all the way down the road.

"You don't walk alone. I know you can't see what's up ahead, but I do. Trust me...again."

Friend, whatever it is, wherever you are, just hold on tight.

And trust him today.

September 10, 2015

For When You Think You Cannot Forgive

I was heartbroken. I felt angry, hurt, and betrayed like never before. 

How could they say such things about me? How could they lie that way? I was blindsided and I didn't know how to process what I had just learned. I had no idea how I would continue to face them day after day and, worse yet, how I would continue to serve them and do life with them.

In desperation, I found a quiet spot and fell to my knees, begging God to take the pain away, to see justice done, to avenge my innocence. Instead, unmistakably as I had come to recognize, the Spirit of God whispered gently to my soul, "I want you to forgive them." "How?" I despaired for I didn't have the strength or the will. "I'll teach you," He replied.

And the journey started.

First, I had to understand the importance of forgiveness.

The Bible tells us that forgiveness is not an option in the life of a follower of Christ. It is a mandate that God takes very seriously. So seriously that He has said He would not forgive us until we forgive our neighbor...with all our heart.  No doubt forgiveness is difficult and it is costly, but it is necessary. It frees the heart and strengthens our relationship with the God who gave us the ultimate gift: His forgiveness.

Once I understood why I should forgive them I started to pray for the strength to make the decision to forgive.

Forgiveness is a choice and the decision to forgive often comes much before the feeling of forgiveness. It may take a while, but while we carry un-forgiveness our spiritual growth will be stunted. Un-forgiveness is that powerful a poison to a spirit.

One of the toughest moments was coming to accept that the people who hurt me may never apologize or admit their wrong. Forgiveness does not depend on the offender. We stand alone before our God and when we pray "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." There is no caveat that states "as long as they have apologized."

So I decided to forgive. And I moved on. Or so I thought.

But not long after, I found myself seemingly backsliding. I was still angry and hurt and I felt the work of forgiving was not going forward or well. In fact, there were days when I didn't want to forgive anymore. I wanted to still be mad. 

And I was ashamed for feeling that way. After all, God was walking me through this path to forgiving.

It was then I realized I had to pray that to be able to give myself grace as well.

I had to remember that just because I decided to forgive it did not mean that the hurt, disappointment, and desire for justice would just disappear from my heart. Deciding to forgive alone did not change my circumstance: the wounds were still fresh, the pain was real, the anger burned, and the desire for justice and revenge lingered.

But I had taken the first step. 

I had chosen to walk in the path of love rather than remain in the path of brokenness. And when I recognized that my feelings had not just magically gone away, I began to pray for wisdom to deal with the residual feelings.

Feelings are fed by thoughts. Dwelling on the offenses nourishes our anguish. I decided to stop feeding the hurt by capturing my thoughts and memories and laying them at the foot of the cross daily, minute by minute if necessary.

As I began to think forgiving thoughts and chase any others that fought my will to move forward, slowly, very slowly, everything else began to fall into place. One day I realized that, while I could not yet wish my enemies well, I no longer wished them ill.

Then one morning, the anger had changed to dull pain that no longer burned inside me but rather made me feel sad and sorrowful. In a little while, the pain began to ease. The wounds began to heal.

But what of justice?

They were wrong for what they did to me, after all. I brought this to the Lord and He began to teach me to pray for the faith to believe that He will deal justly, fairly, and mercifully with my enemies and with me.

He showed me that, while I was not quite ready to pray for the well-being of those who hurt me so deeply, He loved them and Jesus died for them as well. He asked me to let him be judge and executor. Neither revenge nor bitterness would help me move on, anyway. I had to trust that he saw my pain and that He alone could heal my heart.

Disciples of Christ are taught we are to forgive those who hurt us and pray for those who persecute us, all in the same sentence. But it is not always possible to do one right after the other.  There can be a great big gap between forgiving someone and being able to pray for them and it usually takes divine intervention to do so.

As God began to heal my heart, however, I found myself more able to feel compassion for those who caused my pain and praying for their well being.

Since I had to interact with the offenders daily, I also felt the need to pray for wisdom to understand what forgiveness meant in this situation. Does it mean seeking out the offender for reconciliation or simply no longer avoiding them? Does it mean trying to restore the relationship or simply moving on? Each situation is different and the Lord should guide our path in this as well.

Once I was able to see the situation from a more cool-headed perspective, I found that God was leading me to pray for discernment to see if I had a part to play in the situation that now required forgiveness.

This is not always the case, but many times there are two sides to an argument. In my case, I found that part of the fault in the breakdown of the relationship was mine. To the best of my ability, I apologized to those I offended, repented before God, and worked on forgiving myself as He forgave me.

The journey did not end there, however. I had to pray for God to help me with this process as often as I needed during that season of my life.

There were days when a phone call, a note, a careless comment seemed to revive the wound that had scabbed over, and it bled anew, but there was new skin that had built around it already and it no longer bled as long or as violently as when it was first inflicted.

Healing was happening.

It wasn't easy and it took a long time, and still today, any time I am hurt by someone I have to remember and revisit the steps I must take to get from the side of justice to the side of mercy.

Since that situation, I've had plenty of opportunities to practice forgiveness in many other circumstances and with many other people. And I've given others opportunities to work on forgiving me as well!

They say that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Walking towards forgiving can feel like a long journey of many steps. No matter the hurt or situation you are going through, go ahead and take the first one today.

You will find peace at the end of the road.

And freedom.   

August 21, 2015

For When Evenings Find You Exhausted

Wake up early, get a shower, get dressed, clean up the bedroom, wake up kids, make breakfast, prepare for the school day. It’s only eight, and I want to go back to bed.

Come to me you who are weary…

Spend the morning teaching Isabel and Noah, Bible stories, math, reading, writing, science, spelling, play time, piano, make lunch, clean up. By noon, one day feels like two.

Come to me you who are weary…

In the afternoon answer e-mails, manage my online students, grade their papers, placate colleagues with questions and requests. By four pm I think I have nothing left to give.

Come to me you who are weary…

Soon it's time to make dinner, to welcome my husband, to eat as a family, to talk about our days, to pray as a family, to clean up, to do dishes, to bathe children, to brush their teeth, to read one more story, to pray once again. Twelve hours after breakfast feel like a week.

Come to me you who are weary…

Then the house is quiet, so it’s time to do the laundry, to pay bills, to sweep the kitchen, to wipe the counters, to spend a few minutes with the man I love, to get ready for bed.

Come to me you who are weary…

But the rest my pillow offers will not satisfy or take away the heaviness this day has left over me. I am bone-tired inside and out. My body aches and my mind is racing. 

There is only one place I can go to find the respite my mind, body, and soul desperately need.

So finally, finally...

When I surrender the busy-ness of the day and at last quiet my heart enough to notice, I hear the words the Spirit has been trying to whisper to me all day long as I rushed through each task:  

Come to me you who are weary…and I will give you rest.

And I breathe a sigh of release, of freedom, and of gratitude. I let go and unburden my shoulders of the weight of the world.

The days are heavy and long and weary. But I don't have to carry them alone.

I pray tomorrow I will remember this before my feet first hit the floor.

August 14, 2015

For When Sorrow Threatens To Drown You

There are days when the weather is cold and my skies are gray; when I'm feeling vulnerable and raw from some recent, difficult situation.

In those days, present circumstances and voices from the past mingle to make it feel like the weight of everything that has ever gone wrong in my life is threatening to crush me.

Childhood hurts, adolescent mistakes, adult heartbreaks all pile on these thin shoulders and bend me over until I look 100 years old instead of 37.

All the people who have spoken words of discouragement and condemnation to me resurrect from their tombs in my history and speak again, even more vilely.

All the wrongs I've endured, all the unfair treatment, all my own errors and the apologies I have had to make crack open the scars they formed in my heart and bleed anew.

In those days, I cover my eyes with my hands and let the tears flow freely.

But then...

Then I do the one thing I have learned will keep all that explosion of grief from turning my heart bitter and hard:

I pray.

No, I don't really just pray.

I pour, I expel, I purge.

On my knees, I let Jesus have it all.

It is too heavy, too dark, too...much.

A few minutes later I'm still crying.

Just as hard.

Ugly, wracking sobs.

And I still feel as heavy and bent over.

But what is crushing me now is the relentless weight of all the beauty He has created out of the ashes of my life:

The infertility that turned into adoption.

The mistakes I made which turned my heart towards compassion and empathy for others.

The pain that pushed me to deeper, more meaningful relationships.

The rejections that taught me to forgive freely and to understand grace.

The losses that showed me how to love better and hold on more tightly. 

And my heart is then thick with thankfulness it can't contain within itself.

So I continue to spill, to pour, to return.

But this time in praise, not sorrow.

August 5, 2015

For Those In Need Of Strength

We know King David as one of the most famous men in the Bible, but there were many people who did not like him. And most of the time it wasn't because of anything he did but rather a product of his circumstances. 

King Saul hated David because God anointed him as the next king. David didn't ask to be king. 

The Philistines despised David because he was a good warrior. David was only following God's instructions into battle. 

His wife, Michal, felt contempt for him because he danced before the Lord in praise. David was only responding to the joy he felt. 

Nathan chastised David harshly for committing adultery and murder...Ok, that one was on David's head. 

And because he was hunted by Saul like a dog and there was a price on his head, David lived on the run and in fear for years.

The Bible tells us that David was envied, mocked, scorned, spurned, and misunderstood plenty. Many of the Psalms he wrote tell of his anguish, his fear, and his frustration with the people and the situations around him. 

In 1 Samuel 30 we find yet another moment in which David was afraid for his life because of a situation over which he had no control. 

He and his men were living among the Philistines, enjoying the friendship of King Achish. The king decided to fight against King Saul and the Israelites and demanded that David and his men accompany them into battle. So David and his men followed the Philistine army. 

When the other Philistine soldiers saw them approaching, they rejected them and told King Achish that David and his posse were not welcomed, so David and his men had to turn around and go back home.

When they arrived home they found that the Amalekites had raided their town and taken everything, including their wives and children. The men were heartbroken, bitter, and angry and began to talk about stoning David. As if it was David's doing! 

And it is in the midst of this situation that we find a very short sentence that, I think, defines who David was and why he was called "a man after God's own heart." 

Facing the unfair wrath of his men, who were threatening him with murder, the writer of 1 Samuel simply states: 

"But David found strength in the LORD his God" (1 Samuel 30: 6b). 

The story tells us that David asked God what to do and went on to rescue all that was stolen from them by the Amelekites.

Maybe you find yourself in the middle of an unfair situation today. Maybe you are being accused of something you didn't do. Maybe you are despised for things you have no control over. Maybe you feel misunderstood, misinterpreted, or mistreated. 

Even in the middle of God's will, even while doing His work, even while knowing we are right where we need to be, there are times when, like David, we are mocked, scorned, spurned, and envied.

How should we then respond? Should we strive to defend ourselves, to set things right, to show the world how wrong they are? 


Perhaps there is a time to defend, and a time to set the record straight, and a time to speak up. Even David proclaimed his innocence before Saul in many occasions. 

But I think 1 Samuel points us to a deeper truth, a failsafe response regardless of the situation in which we find ourselves. Scripture directs us to find our strength in the LORD our God. 

Our strength does not come from talking to others about our situation, or setting things right our own way, or getting back at our attackers. Our strength to face the difficulties that come our way comes from the LORD our God. 

The simple question is this: 

Where are you looking for strength today?

"I look up to the mountains;
    does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.
(Psalm 121:1-2, The Message)

March 9, 2015

The sparrows, the lilies of the field and the parking spot.

Last weekend I was driving to meet a friend for coffee downtown. As I was nearing our meeting location, she sent me a message that she has arrived but that downtown was terribly crowded and parking was proving a nightmare to find.

I panicked a bit. Most of the parking on the streets of our downtown is parallel and I will admit right here and now that I don’t know how to parallel park. It’s not that I don’t like to do so. I don’t know how. I did it once to pass my driving test more than twenty years ago and have not done it since. I go to ridiculous lengths to avoid it, actually.

Lately, God and I have been having an ongoing argument, debate, screaming fight, conversation about trust. It has way too many layers to be dissected here but let’s just say that I have deep trust issues and that this can make a relationship that is, at its very core based on trust and faith, difficult. So we struggle on. Him telling me that He is trustworthy and me saying, “Yeah? Show me.”

The morning of the parking situation we were not at our best, God and me, so I sarcastically prayed (can you be sarcastic with God?): “Ok, God of the parking space, Lord of the parking lot, find me a spot.” I had always secretly sort of smirked at people who would give God public thanks for finding them a good spot to park. “God surely has better things to worry about than you not having to walk a few more steps, come on!” was my very Christ-like thought towards those people.

Not 1o seconds and a half a block later I saw a car pulling out of a parking spot which was at the end of the line (no parallel parking!), less than 20 feet from the coffee shop where I was to meet my friend, and there were even 40 minutes left in the meter. Score!

I’ll be honest. With a world full of hunger, wars, slavery, poverty, pain, and suffering to care for I have a hard time understanding why God would hear my sarcastic, inane, seemingly irrelevant prayer for a parking spot on a Saturday morning. But He did.

He remains a mystery to me in so many ways. But as I continued my dialogue with Him that day (this time much less sarcastically) a thought began to emerge clearly in my heart:

God cares.

And no, I don’t think that God will always help me find a good parking spot. This is not about a parking spot. It is about a God that finds ways to say: “I love you. I see you. I hear you” wherever we are, in whatever situation we find ourselves. Big or small.

I guess I can compare it to walking by my daughter on my way to the kitchen and stroking her cheek gently. It’s not much. It’s a simple gesture, really. But it is an easy way to let her know she is loved.

That morning, the parking spot was holy ground. I turned the car off and, before I got out, felt a stroke on my cheek: “You are loved.” I breathed a prayer of thankfulness to the God who cares about the sparrows, the lilies of the fields…and me