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There’s no secret around here; I’m opinionated and passionate about some issues our world is facing right now and many of them have been brought into light as a result of this crazy and disheartening election period. I’ll be so glad when today is over. No matter the outcome, I do not fear because I know that God is still God and He is in control.

I have had to think hard about what I’m passing on to my children through this election. They are watching and listening and these things that I’m passing on go much further than the election season. These things will translate into their lives on the playground, the classroom and in their relationships for years to come. As I wrote them out I was challenged to really think if I was doing a good job with this. I know I mess it up but I’m doing my best to raise them in a way that loves, honors and values ALL people.

Head over the the Portland Mom’s Blog to read what I hope to pass on to my children and that others would also pass on as they raise the future leaders of our world.


Tattooed by life and Ink

April 29, 2016 — 1 Comment

Twenty years ago for my birthday, I got a tattoo. My boyfriend at the time took me, I picked out a small design that I liked, it didn’t have any specific special meaning I just liked. I chose the spot and I was forever inked. Tattoos weren’t even overly popular then, I think I just wanted to do something rebellious (I can’t even really remember, it was 20 years ago after all). It was such a new thing in my small town that when I went home to show my family my grandma announced it at a luncheon with all her friends and made me show them, while in the golf course restaurant. That was memorable. I don’t regret getting that tattoo like many told me I would, and it didn’t stretch out or look crazy when I was pregnant. Thank goodness.

A LOT of time has passed since that last tattoo. My life is radically different than it was when I was 18 and I’m so grateful for that. God has changed me, intervened in my life, and redeemed me in ways that I never knew were possible. God took a broken, young woman and pieced my heart and life back together after I tried to fill it with relationshredeemed tattooips and the world. I was really broken back then (not that I’m not a mess at times now but it was a different, hard, broken). But even after redemption in that area and choosing to make God a part of my life since then, hard things still happened. Over the years I’ve had to walk the journey of infertility, losing a baby, health issues and surgeries to name a few. My heart and my actual body have scars from the pain and reality of life. My body, near the first tattoo continued to be marked in the passing years with physical scars. In the midst of those trials though I have seen God show up, he has healed wounds, and smoothed those scars. God has shown his power and strength when I had none and he has redeemed my infertility and the longing for children in ways that I never would have planned or expected. He really can make beauty from ashes. He really can redeem our brokenness and for that reason, above my old tattoo and below the physical scars of surgeries that mark losing a baby I tattooed the word Redeemed.

It’s a funny thing though, even though I am redeemed and I know this to be true I can struggle to choose joy. I can get caught up in the things daily that are hard and forget to see where God is at work. I can miss out on the small mercies when I choose not to look for them. I get happiness and joy mixed up.

A few years ago when I read Kay Warren’s book Choose Joy Because Happiness isn’t Enough, and I was struck by her definition of joy,

Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.

Over the years I have learned that the reality of joy is knowing and choosing Christ even when it doesn’t feel good. Joy is knowing and choosing to believe that I am never alone or forsaken. Joy is knowing and choosing to continue to walk the journey of faith and Jesus’ ways when I don’t understand them. Choose Joy was a message God has spoken to me, and over me, daily for years now. I still don’t succeed most the time if I’m honest and I knew that I wanted it to be tattooed on my arm as a daily, visual reminder. Choose Joy. Choose Jesus.

choose joy tattoo

I could think of no better way to spend my 38th birthday, 20 years after my first tattoo, than to tattoo significant words on my body that remind me of God’s faithfulness and love to me. He did after all tattoo his love on his hands and feet, not with ink but with nails and his own blood, because he chose to sacrifice for me, for us. He brought redemption to a broken world and for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.

May God be glorified and a greater story be told through my life and even through my tattoos.

Last Mother’s Day my sweet daughter made me a gift and she was so giddy for me to open it. It was beautifully painted with words that she picked out to describe me. My heart filled with joy that she saw those things in me, but another thing that filled my heart was doubt. Did she really see those things in me? nightstand art

I can often face doubt that I am enough, that my identity doesn’t rest in the things that I do or the outcomes of the day. As a Jesus follower I am adamant that others not believe the lies that the world can throw at you, but I can easily fall into the trap of doubt myself. Our identity comes from our relationship with God himself, what He says is true of us. No matter how the day goes, circumstances, or how well I’m performing, these things are what’s true, I am beautiful, I am worthy, I am loved, I am enough. You don’t need to be a mom to need to hear that truth. Do you believe those things?

Some of the sweetest reminders from the Lord come through our children. To read the rest of the blog post head on over to the Portland Moms Blog.

When Pain Pierces the Peace

January 21, 2016 — 4 Comments

Profanity pierced our peaceful night. It was shocking really and sent me quickly to my feet from bed. Not shocking that I was hearing those words, but shocked by the pain that was behind them, and it was Christmas night. There she stood, only feet from our front door, yelling so loudly at someone on the phone and staggering around, clearly disoriented by the pain she was feeling and the substances in her body. She wandered into the street moaning with a low guttural cry “Why, Why, Someone Help Me.” I wanted to help her but was afraid to open the door because she was clearly intoxicated. We called the police instead, afraid she may hurt herself.

alone in the street

She staggered across the street where she fell to her knees and continued to wail loudly and call two different people on her phone that she yelled threats and profanity at. It was obvious that she had been betrayed. Her world was now so full of anguish she was incapable of moving from the ground.

Our Christmas day had been a wonderful, peaceful day at home with our kids and a lovely lunch with friends. Our hearts were full of thanks for the gift of Jesus and the day to celebrate Him and be with each other. It was almost the perfect day, until the pain, her pain, pierced the night. Her bellowing cries still ring in my ears and I’m still thinking about it even a month later.

We watched that night as eventually the police had a detox unit take her away. She kept yelling, “I’m not okay with what they’ve done!” over and over. We stood in the dark of our living room, tears streaming down my cheeks, and prayed for her, for her brokenness, for God to somehow enter in. We prayed she would know that she was loved despite the betrayal she was experiencing. I continue to pray when I think of her, that she would know that God isn’t okay with what was done to her either. He’s not okay with the despair of this world and that’s why He sent Jesus. Jesus entered in, to the mess, to the wailing, to the brokenness. He enters in.

No matter how your last year ended or how your new year is beginning, I hope that you remember that God wants to enter in. He is the peace in the pain. He is the calm to the storm. He is present when others have abandoned.

I don’t know why God had that woman on our street, in front of our house on Christmas night. We felt helpless to come to her aid in a practical way. But I do know that because of it, she has been prayed for. When I think of her, I still pray. I may never see her again but I continue to ask God to enter into her world. Maybe it was just a reminder to me that whether we seem to have a life of peace and plenty at the moment, or pain and strife, He wants to, and can, enter into it. Will I let Him? Will you?

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Books I Read in 2015

January 1, 2016 — 1 Comment

I was sitting with a friend and she asked me, “What were the greatest books you read this year?” I could only recall a few of them, not because I hadn’t read great books but because my memory fails me so often. That is one of the reasons that I keep a list and short review of the books that I read each year now. Even as I was getting this post ready and re-reading my list I was reminded of all that I learned from these authors. There were some themes that shaped my year and my life as a result of the wonderful words and stories shared in the pages I consumed. I’m ever grateful for books and the opportunity to learn and grow through others wisdom and creativity in the craft of the written word.

book store

Books I Read in 2015

A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers — This book is a compilation of five stories of Tamar, Rahab, Basheba, Ruth and Mary. They start with the Biblical story and she ads things that may have happened. They are incredible stories, sometimes scandalous, yet true, about the women God chose to use for a particular time in history and in His story. There are also lots of questions to use in a Bible study setting after each story so you can dig into the scripture and apply it to your own life. I love Francine Rivers!

The Spark by Kristine Barnett– Kristine tells the story of one of her children, Jacob, who is a brilliant child on the autism spectrum. He has a higher IQ than Einstein, went to college by the time he was 10 and will change the world with his gifts. When he was two however, doctors told her that he would never speak. Kristine took her child’s well being and development into her own hands, discovering the spark within him and as a result watched him blossom and grow. She believes incredible possibilities can occur when we learn how to tap the true potential that lies within every child, and in all of us. This is an incredibly inspiring story and helped me look at my own children, their gifts and talents, and challenged me to think how I can encourage them and help them grow.

Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas — The premise of this book asks the question, What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy? This book looks at how you can use the challenges, joys, struggles, and celebrations of marriage to draw closer to God and to grow in Christian character. This was a great book and I had some useful and challenging take a ways.

Going Public by David and Kelli Pritchard — This talks about how your child can thrive in public school but it also offers so much more. They offer wise, biblical and practical parenting stories throughout this book that are so valuable. I’ve read this before but needed to re-read it as we are continually evaluating what is best for our kids. This may change from year to year and child to child. We value being in the public school setting and want to be a part of making it better but always keep an open hand to the Lord’s leading with schooling.

The Healing Path-How the hurts in your past can lead you to a more abundant life by Dan B. Allender — I am a big fan or Dan Allender. I’ve heard him speak many times and loved this book. I resonated with many of the themes and wrestled through his explanation of ambivalence. It’s hard to describe all the great stuff in this book, here’s a word from his preface: “This life has great suffering and sorrow woven into its fabric, but it also has an incandescent beauty and compelling call. For now, the beauty serves as a window through which we can glimpse the face of God, which we will one day see in its glorious fullness. The Healing Path is about how God redeems our doubt and betrayal, our despair and powerlessness, and disappointment and ambivalence. It call us to more toward the great destination of this life: becoming a man or woman of faith, hope, and love.” It’s a practical and helpful book for working through your own story and healing path as well as entering into the lives and stories of others.

Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book About a (Really) Big Problem  by Kevin DeYoung — I LOVED the chapter on parenting and how our busyness affects the lives of our children. We live in a culture of do more, child focused families, and be the “perfect parent” and it’s sucking the life out of parents and the joy out of us and our kids. Less often equals more.

Surprised by Motherhood – Everything I never expected about being a mom by Lisa-Jo Baker — This is a great, easy and fun read as a mom. It tells her story of growing up in South Africa, losing her mom, meeting her husband and their journey as a married couple into parenthood. I could so relate to parts of her story, especially how she didn’t imagine having kids and then how God changed her heart. She says she discovered three things about motherhood: that it’s hard, it’s glorious and it’s very hard. It’s a real story with honesty and humor I could relate to as a Christ follower and a mom.

Learning to Walk in the Dark  by Barbara Brown Taylor — This was a fascinating read. She talks a lot about actual darkness. She spent time in caves to experience physical darkness and with those who are blind. Our world has such an aversion to the physical dark as well as the spiritual darkness. She believes that “for it is in the dark, that one can truly see.” It exposed many things that I may be afraid of and how we avoid the things that are dark to us instead of leaning into them.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green — I just have to say this was recommended by a guy friend, my husband read it first and it was a teary, wonderful, moving, heartbreaking story. Enough said.

The Jesus Way by Eugene Peterson — Peterson looks at Jesus’s way of life in scripture, examples of others in scripture and compared it to how the contemporary church lives today. Very challenging and insightful and this explanation just seems so simplistic for an incredibly deep and complex book.

Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace by Anne Lamott — I love Lamott’s honesty and ability to connect with those who have suffered, are in hard places and in need of some new perspective.

The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning — I loved this book. I struggle with grace in my own life. I believe it in theory but to really grasp it and live it out so that I can walk freely in it is a challenging task and concept to grasp. I love this main thought in the book, “The Father beckons us to Himself with a furious love that burns brightly and constantly. Only when we truly embrace God’s grace can we bask in the joy of a gospel that enfolds the most needy of His flock—the ragamuffins.”

A Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall & Denver Moore — The story of how God brings together a homeless man from the South and and a rich man from Texas in unexpected ways. It’s a powerful story of God changing lives through engaging with those who seem unlikely to have anything at all in common.

Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning – I loved this book so much that I bought it half way through reading it. There are foundational truths in this book that he had a way of explaining in ways that helped them seem new again. If we really did believe this, “Our identity rests in God’s relentless tenderness for us revealed in Jesus Christ.” we would all live differently and in more freedom. I will definitely be re-reading this book!

Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck by Jon Acuff — I just really like Jon Acuff and wanted to see what he had to say so read this one. He has lots of wisdom in being successful in work and I think most people can relate to the fact that we don’t want to “get stuck” and sometimes we need a “do over” even if it’s just in our perspective of our work.

Calico Joe by John Grisham — This was an enjoyable and easy read about a boy, his father, their complicated relationship, Calico Joe and the game of baseball. It has themes of forgiveness and how things can find some form of redemption in the end.

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller – I love all things related to Psalm 23. This book gave incredible insight from someone who was an actual shepherd of sheep and what that entails. It gives new meaning to the biblical meaning in Psalm 23. I’ll definitely be reading this many times throughout life.

For the Right Reasons by Sean Lowe — Now don’t judge me here. I watch the Bachelor and therefore I had to read “America’s favorite” bachelor’s book. And for the record, I had to wait in a long wait list at the library to read this so I know I’m not alone. I sped my way through this book. I love reading a good story about someones life and they did a great job telling Sean’s story of life, his faith and love. It really is pretty amazing that God can use even reality tv shows like the Bachelor to bring others together and make himself known. Yep, I loved it.

Castaway Kid by R.B. Mitchell – This was a heartbreaking story of a boy who was left in an orphanage at the age of three, denied by other family members, and lived there until he graduated high school. It walks through his trials, how he managed to become more than his past and how God intervened to help him do just that. A great story of redemption of brokenness and how forgiveness really can set you free. I was totally challenged by the theme of forgiving those who really don’t deserve to be forgiven.

Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans – I read this because Rachel is influential with the millennials and I wanted to know more of her story. Although I don’t agree with all of her theology it was an interesting read and I appreciate many of her thoughts. I love this one, “We think church is for good people, not resurrected people.” I agree that we need to stop pretending we have it all together. We are broken people in need of a God who restores. The church should be a safe place, but not necessarily a comfortable place like she says in the book.

When the Moon is Low by Nadia Hashim – This was a timely read given the level of refugee crisis in our world. It’s an incredible novel that takes you through one women’s journey of life in Afghanistan, the take over of the Taliban that forces her family to flee their country and all of the heart wrenching loss that they experience along the way.

For the Love-Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker – I LOVE Jen’s humor, wit and ability to speak into issues of the heart of women and the church so poignantly. Easy read, encouraging and challenging as well. The chapter about turning 40 hit so close to home, even thought I’m not quite 40, that I was literally crying. Good stuff.

Scary Close dropping the act and finding true intimacy by Donal Miller – Don invites you into his life of working through isolation and how he’s finding true intimacy. He has a lot of wisdom in building healthy relationships that everyone can benefit from. Loved this book.

The Sky Lantern by Matt Mikalatos – Written by our friend and co-worker. This is an incredible story of how a sky lantern ended up in Matt’s driveway which led to the eventual meeting of the woman who sent it. It’s inspiring to think about what can happen when we take the small things in life that may look like a distraction or piece of trash but don’t pass it by. When we stop to engage in picking up that trash, simply writing a letter, or offering an act of kindness it could lead to changing the trajectory of our day, someone else’s day or even our lives.


I’m still in the middle of about 5 other books that I didn’t finish and the perfectionist in me is really annoyed that this list only has 24 books on it. My goal was 25. Here’s to embracing some grace and letting it go.

What did you read this year? What should be on my Must Read list for 2016? Please share.

I wrote about our major home renovation project that we just completed, just in time for the holidays. Head on over to the Portland Moms Blog to read the rest. 

“We are currently in the process of finishing our basement into an apartment. It’s been a LONG process of blood, sweat and tears and many curse words along the way. We live in a 1923 bungalow, so just getting permits was a hassle. We hired a contractor, but once again are doing a lot of the work to save money. We figured it’s only 600 square feet, how hard can it be? But here’s the deal, we are no longer as young and energetic as we once were; we have two kids now who are on the go, and life is full. So what were we thinking to take on this large project?!”

I wrote about some of the things that we try to do as a family to make holidays a little more frantic free.

Whether you are bounding with joy and have sugar plum fairies dancing in your head about the holidays or the thought of the upcoming season makes you want to take a nap, let these tips help you and your family over the next seven weeks.

Thanks for reading!

I had no idea when we had kids that schooling would be the most turbulent and gut wrenching experience that it’s been.

I spent the majority of my 12 years of school with the same 200 people. I rode the bus or my bike to school, didn’t doubt my safety, didn’t have to apply to or lottery into the school in my neighborhood, I just got to attend it. I didn’t doubt that I was in good hands with my teachers (maybe my parents did but I didn’t). I never had to switch schools and it all felt very stable. And I certainly didn’t have emergency drills in school for what to do if there was an active shooter in the building. It’s safe to say that the world I grew up in no longer exists. I also grew up in rural America and now we’re raising kids in Urban America so that too plays into our current reality.

In the course of our daughters life (she’s 8)  she has moved classes or schools 4 times. She is amazingly flexible and has always adapted well. She makes friends easily and has been able to do well wherever she is. I’m so grateful  for how God made her, brave, determined, and mature beyond her years. It’s helped her through all these transitions. However, this is not the way I pictured school life for my children. It’s been heartbreaking at many turns for us in the education system.

Here were our “options”: 1) The k-8 public school next door that we have no preference to get into, pay taxes for and operates like a private school that you have to lottery to get into. 2) The public “neighborhood school” (that’s not actually in our neighborhood) that we attended for a few years and loved for many reasons but is under staffed, under resourced and where kids at the lower and higher ends of the spectrum get left behind. 3) The amazing private schools around the city that we just can’t afford, but have had the privilege of attending one for a short stint thanks to financial aid.

Last week we were notified by the school next door that there was now a spot for Jenna in the 4th grade. This school for many reasons has become my Nineveh. We’ve applied for the lottery every year and petitioned once, only to be denied. The system is unfair and broken. I’ve had negative interactions on multiply occasions and had given up hope that we would attend the school next door. We have been so happy at our current school and NOW there’s the option to be next door. It just seemed wrong and crazy to move again in the middle of a school year. Not to mention, now I was being asked to move past my frustrations and anger and enter into the school that I think is privileged and has denied our petitions when it made the most sense to attend. It makes me feel like I’m becoming a part of the problem and not the solution at this point to attend there. How could I trust this was from the Lord? How could I ask my daughter to move yet again?

Every good parent wants what’s best for their kids. We want stability and the option for great education for our kids. Unfortunately those have not gone hand in hand for our family.

So today Jenna transitioned once again to a new school. It was an agonizing decision process. The 90 feet to walk next door into that school has ironically taken 4 years. I know that God has a plan but I also know this is not how I would have gone about it. His timing is never my timing. Crazy how that works.

Our family has always had the mission to be a blessing to those around us and now we are being asked to do that next door. My high justice, right and wrong, high-control self is struggling here. Who knew my kids schooling would be such a faith walk for me?

I’m convinced that God is preparing Jenna to do something great in her future as a result of all of her school experiences. God never wastes anything, not the joys the sorrows, the twists or the turns. And for me, well I think God just continues to pry the grip off of the control I really want to have, especially when it comes to my kids. He’s asking me to love the hard places, the place that has kept us on the outside and denied us entry for so long. I’m going to my “Nineveh” and trusting God to meet us there.

jenna 4th grade school

I have dear, sweet friends who I have known for about 15 years. They are genuine, kind-hearted and wonderful people. They have the joy of raising 3 sons, one of whom has Down Syndrome. In honor of National Down Syndrome Awareness month (In Megan’s family it’s Down Syndrome Acceptance Month) I interviewed my friend Megan for the Portland Moms Blog . Here are just a few of the words she shared,

I am still a typical mom who wants to share stories, brag about my child’s accomplishments, and be asked about what my child is up to.  Down syndrome does not define us a family or me as a mom.  I’m a mom of three boys, (that is crazier and way scarier then having a child with Down syndrome) who wants her boys to live to their fullest potential possible.  Yes, there is a continual grieving process as a mom of a child with an intellectual disability that I walk through at different times in life’s seasons. I cherish friendships with other moms where I have the freedom to express thoughts, feelings, fears, and joys.

Megan shares honestly, vulnerably and authentically about being a mom and what it’s like to have a son with Down Syndrome. Please go to the Portland Moms Blog to read the rest!


(From time to time I’ll have posts over on the Portland Moms Blog. Here is one of my first. I’d love for you to go read the whole thing over on their page. Thanks for reading.)


When we moved to Portland my daughter was three; the landscape was vastly different from the clean, wide streets and mountain views we were used to. We now saw men and women on many street corners holding signs and were confronted with the brokenness in up close and personal ways. My daughter was quick to ask questions. “Mommy, why is that man holding a sign?” “Why doesn’t he have food or a home?” Those are complex questions to explain to a toddler. Even more complex was her next question, “Why don’t you give him something?”

Continue reading over at the Portland Moms Blog