Remembering “Those Days” That Make Us MOM


Crying, instead of her alarm, woke her up this morning. After two days at home caring for a sick child and new baby, it was apparent that today would be day three. The park playdate would have to be cancelled that morning. What she wouldn’t give for some social interaction! Instead, it would be day three of “mommy, I need you” with no time for herself or to even touch the disaster that was her house. Slowly she brought herself upright with feet on the floor and desperately said under her breath, “God, help me today.”

We can all relate to the scenario above, even if the details are different.

On Mother’s Day, we take time to get “photo ready”, our kids dress up, they give us gifts that they picked or made, maybe there will be a card or flowers from a spouse or friend. We go to brunch, smile, take pictures, and talk about the best moments.

But it isn’t those precious moments that bring us through each year to a new Mother’s Day as loved ones celebrate the mom we are–the mom we have become.

So to the mom with the sick kids, the mom getting daily phone calls from school, the mom with a child with a disability, the mom fighting depression, the mom struggling with rage, the mom suffering chronic pain, the mom facing fertility treatments, the mom who feels alone, you are not alone and I believe Mother’s Day is a day that we remember the struggle that has transformed us from woman to mother.

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)

In God’s hands, he will redeem those days and nights of motherhood that seem endless, the apologies given after we yelled at the kids, the pain of learning unconditional love after a child rejects us, the daily unseen care for the child who has so many more needs than his peers, the loneliness of parenting alone. God redeems what could have been meaningless pain into the ingredients he will use to make us the people and moms he has created us to be, moms filled with freedom, love, joy, hope, and boldness.

We can have hope, even in the struggles of motherhood when we ask for help because His “Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (Romans 8:26)

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

If you are in a season of precious moments, enjoy it wholeheartedly, being fully present and thankful for the time of refreshment and joy!

But for those in a season of struggle or pain, God sees you and will sustain you, if you let Him. And when you look back, instead of seeing a series of bad days or weeks, you will see milestone moments when you came through the struggle with greater strength and grace to become more of the mom and person you were destined by God to be.

This Mother’s Day is for you, remember the unforgettable moments that make you MOM!

30: A New Chapter

IMG_8899I had thought about May 3, 2015 since I was a kid, knowing that it was the date I would turn 30. It seemed so far away, and now it’s here. I wondered what I would be like, what I would feel, where I would be…

My original plan for crossing the 30th birthday milestone was Las Vegas and Britney Spears, naturally.

But with family circumstances like toddlers and pregnancies, that idea was crossed off the list.

To be honest, I pouted a little bit.

What does all the above have in common? Me, me, me, me.

God has been working in my heart and my life in a major way this year. Some of that work has been bringing areas of weakness to light.

I’ll just be really honest, I have been prideful, judgmental, closed off, unavailable, distant, and self-obsessed.

So this year, I felt it on my heart to not be self-focused on my birthday. To give my gifts away, to put others first, to remember and celebrate what God has done these past 30 years.

It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. There were several things that came up disrupting the limited plans we had made as a couple/family and I felt indignation rise up until I remembered this year’s commitment.

The major thing I did was make a Lifemap. (I was given the instructions at a breakout session at the Bayside Women’s Conference given by Dr. Judy Ten Elshof from Biola University’s Talbot School of Theology.) For the past few weeks I wrote every major life event, significant person, and circumstance onto post-its and arranged them into chapters of life. The negative events were given a different color, yellow. Today I went through the phases of ministry revealed, lessons learned, life values exhibited, and wrote a mission statement.

It is amazing to see the way God shapes and crafts our lives through experiences, setbacks, pain, and the influence of others. I was told to pay attention to pain because that’s usually where a transition to something new takes place. Ironically, it was mostly the yellow post-its that jumped out to me, that had the most poignant lessons and, in retrospect, I am most grateful for.

Thank you Jesus for closing doors, for teaching me love and compassion through pain, for brutal truth, for empathy through experience, for painful experiences with others that taught me that only YOU can sustain and save me and that expectations should be replaced by grace.

And thank you to the people and friends who were truth tellers in my life, even if it was just one small conversation. If you don’t have people that love you enough to tell you the truth about yourself, find them.

While the first 30 years of my life were about me, I want the rest of my life to be about God and loving others.

Life is too short and becomes meaningless the more we make it about ourselves.

Happy Easter!


If Good Friday was the end, Jesus would have just been another martyred prophet.

Easter proved that Jesus is not just a prophet or teacher.

When asked if he was the messiah, the Son of God, this was his response:

“You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭26‬:‭64‬ NIV)

He declared himself divine and his resurrection was the evidence.

Easter was the beginning of something completely new.

Simply awed and thankful today.

The frustrating moments that sanctify us


He was running over his meeting notes in his head while he drove down the freeway to the bay area for his first client meeting of the day. He needed a win for his family. He had prayed over the morning and was thinking about the verse I gave him the day before.

All of a sudden he heard a loud sound and the car starting driving with a plodding thud, thud, thud. He pulled off to find one of the back tires completely blown out. Thankful it didn’t cause an accident, he quickly changed the tire. Driving with the spare, he calculated that he was going to be an hour late for his first meeting.

In the past, this incident would have thrown off his entire day and ruined his focus, but God had been working in him over the past few weeks. Somehow his renewed trust in God allowed him to maintain his focus and confidence for the day ahead.

Meanwhile, I was at home late that night watching the clock as the tire had caused him to run four hours behind. I had missed an appointment, missed a date night hearing a fun speaker at church, and my thoughts were starting to move to frustration and anger.

As I looked at my son, I realized that he was always going to be watching me and learning from me, especially how I respond to setbacks. I had a choice to continue fixating on what went wrong that day, what should have happened, my frustration, disappointment… or choose to submit my mind to God and take on an attitude of thankfulness. Thankful that my husband works so hard for us, thankful God kept him safe while on the road, thankful that he would be home soon.

Sanctification is the process of becoming more like Christ by submitting our hearts, thoughts, words, and actions to Him.

“People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b)

I remember being a young adult and doing an “urban plunge” for a weekend when we ate and spent time with the homeless–we became one of them. We went through the meal line one night and a church group was serving dinner. The people didn’t look up or smile at the homeless men and women they were serving. Their hearts were hard while their hands were busy.

Service and ministry are important in the Christian life. Jesus commands us to serve Him by serving one another. To honor Him, we commit blocks of our schedule to serving Him.

We take our family to church, we volunteer, we go on a mission trip, we donate clothes and food, we serve the needy, we take opportunities to teach others about Jesus.

But maybe we become more like Christ in the moments in between that aren’t planned. When someone cuts us off in the church parking lot, when the kids are screaming in the backseat, when no one thanks us for volunteering, when we break down on the way to our mission trip, when the person we’re serving curses at us, when we’re patronized or assaulted with arguments.

Those are the moments when we tend to react, but if we choose to submit our thoughts and feelings to God, our hearts and minds will be transformed.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2a)


Hearing Jesus Above the Noise

Photo by Nancy Heath

Photo by Nancy Heath

Last night I had two dreams. In the first one I was driving around a desert area near Los Angeles and saw three worship services side by side: a Jewish service, a Muslim service, and a Greek Orthodox service. First, the Jewish leader put out a call to worship, then the Muslims, and then the Greek Orthodox began their service. It was almost impossible to distinguish one from the other since they were happening at the same time.

In the next dream, I was in Jerusalem at night with my husband. We were driving around the city and checking into our hotel. I could feel the excitement of being in that ancient city and wanting to walk the old streets and sites. I suddenly woke up (my son was crying for me in the other room) and had a brief vision of Jesus appearing in person in Jerusalem under an archway. I paused for a minute, taking in how incredible that would be to see! Then, the realization hit me that I miss out on Jesus almost daily.

Every day, God wants to speak to me, to each of us. Even when I’m going through my mundane routine in my messy house with my active toddler and I’m half a world away from the Holy Land. Unfortunately, I let my complaints and distractions become louder. I concern myself over the current trivial issue that is being kicked around on the social newsfeeds. During a free moment, I seek a break or an escape instead of connection.

How much have I missed?

I’m guilty of trying to do things out of my own power (which isn’t much) and trying to see the big picture of my life and where I should direct it to go (which is like trying to navigate a foreign land blindfolded).

All that I am given is this day. Last week at Bible study I wrote down this quote from the teacher speaking about the book of Daniel, “We’re in Babylon. We can concern ourselves with today and leave the rest to God.”

So even though I am not anyone special and I’m not visiting any ancient landmarks anytime soon, I am trying to look for signs of Jesus in this day that I’m given even when everything around me feels so ordinary. God loves to show up in ordinary.

“Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: “Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You’ve concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that’s the way you like to work.” (Matthew 11:25-25, MSG)

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.” (Romans 12:1-2a, MSG)

Just Listen

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Tears rolled down our faces as our half eaten lunch grew cold.

We sat by a window in a fish taco restaurant in Costa Mesa. People continued moving around us while we sat in a frozen moment.

My friend carried an immense burden, a pain that no one should have to carry.

Minutes earlier, I, in my prideful “wisdom” of being a college student at a Christian college, was trying to name her pain, trying to spiritualize the situation. That effort to insert words into that painful space was like trying to add to the Mona Lisa or add my voice to Fantine’s solo in Les Miserables. My words, while trying to be “helpful”, were profane.

With as much grace as she could muster, my friend told me to stop. This pain, this grief couldn’t be explained.

Silence was the best answer. Being there in the middle of it–just to listen and experience her pain as my own.

As we read the news and have conversations about current events, we have a desire to explain them, to put the situations or people into boxes.

My words have gotten me in trouble more times than I can count. My words have sparked arguments, hurt feelings, and created distance. Listening, on the other hand, has only blessed my life with peace and deeper understanding.

Recent events have reawakened me to the pain that our brothers and sisters of color face daily. The pain of being hated, the grief of having their lives and voices minimized.

Today, rather than inserting my voice, I’m choosing to listen. I hope you will join me.

Post by Faitth Brooks, originally shared on her blog Lyrics & Letters

The Great Divide: How Do We Build a Bridge?

I have spent the past two weeks pretty angry and disappointed. I would be lying if I told you the things going on in Ferguson did not affect me in someway. I have read a lot of blog posts coming from different angles, I have researched and watched lectures from professionals on the subject of racial reconciliation, and I have had open conversations with some of my Caucasian friends. I have prayed and cried about this situation in Ferguson and the national issue of racism. Wether we like to admit it or not, racism still exists. Not all white people are racist, it would be very ignorant to make such a broad assumption and accusation.

 Privilege refers to the idea that in human society, some groups benefit from unearned, largely-unacknowledged advantages that increase their power relative to that of others, thereby perpetuating social inequality

Some, Caucasian people may not have viewed themselves privileged or that they are afforded certain opportunities based on the color of their skin. Honestly, what I have gathered from conversations with my white friends, is that sometimes they don’t think about being a “White privileged american”. When you are a majority you may not have the needs of the minority on the forefront of your mind.

My parents did not teach me to fear white people, some of my closest friends are white. I did not begin to feel a little fear until Ferguson happened. Seeing all the hate out there and passive aggressive racism caused me to wonder who was around me that thought of me that way because of my color? Were there people in my life that harbored hate like that? People that felt I was an exception to “those black people” when in fact the “those people” are MY people. I became suspicious of white people-waiting for someone to change on me. I got concerned for my older brother who is over 6 ft. tall and a broad built black male. He has a heart of gold but people wouldn’t be able to tell that if they looked at him. They could think he is a thug instead of a successful college graduate. What if he wears a hoddie or a big shirt on his days off work? Will they suspect him of mischief?

I get that people who are not minorities may not understand this perspective. I am not asking for understanding as much as I am pleading for you to listen. That is it.

I could focus on dissecting all of the hateful postings and blogs I have seen but that would be counter productive because hateful people are everywhere and I encounter them everyday. That will not go away. I had to let myself research and come to a place of peace and balance about the situation in Ferguson along with the killings of other unarmed black men, as well as, the issue of institutionalized racism. There are a lot of moving parts in this discussion and I may elaborate more in a different post.

What I really want to discuss is the racial divide in the church. I know I am about to discuss a “hush hush” matter but more of us need to talk about it. People must understand that the history of African-American culture is rooted in oppression. Although we would like to think that we have made a lot of progress, we have to an extent, there is still a lot to be done. We must be willing to openly talk about race and racial issues in order to really move forward. There is an elephant in the room- like it or not and until we stop passing over it or walking by it silently, we will not see change. We will be back in this spot in a few years.The comments I have seen on the internet let me know that racism is not dead, in fact, it just took on a new form. Nowadays, talking about race makes people tense and everyone comes to the table with their own inhibitions and preconceived ideas of what the other person plans to say. So instead of having hard conversations and breaking down racial divide, we don’t at all. A lack of communication makes the divide grow and before we know it we have accepted passive aggressive racism. I believe the African-American community wants people to listen.

Matt Chandler says this best: “What is so deceptive about white privilege is that it is different from blatant racism or bias. A privileged person’s heart may be free from racist thoughts or biased attitudes, but may still fail to see how the very privilege afforded to him or her shapes how he or she interprets and understands the situations and circumstances of people without privilege.”

We have allowed the media to feed into a racial divide. We would all be gravely missing the point if it was not evident that we need to have racial reconciliation in the church. It needs to happen. When was the last time you looked around your church and wondered why everyone else looked like you? This goes both ways, for predominately black churches and white churches. “Ninety percent of African-American Christians worship in all-black churches. Ninety percent of white American Christians worship in all-white churches,” said Chris Rice, coauthor of More Than Equals: Racial Healing for the Sake of the Gospel. “…Years since the incredible victories of the civil rights movement, we continue to live in the trajectory of racial fragmentation. The biggest problem is that we don’t see that as a problem.” I think the shooting of Michael Brown brought up deeper seething issues about race. Any group that experiences systemic oppression for a time will come to a point to where they can tolerate it no more. It takes work on all sides to dismantle institutionalized racism. If you are content with your multicultural workshops at your job, fine, but it goes far beyond that. We must be willing to talk and learn about one another in order to break down barriers.

Linda Brown (AP Photo)

Tell me this, if you have no black friends ( I am not talking about people you are associated with and hang out with every now and then) then where do you get your ideas and perceptions about black people? Do you make them up? Are they from the media? We cannot grow and move forward without having hard conversations and uniting together to see change. There are several people uniting to see change happen and guess what? They are not all black. People of all races are uniting together to see change happen. I have noticed that it is much harder to organize change and promote change in the church. Why is this true? I did not experience real overt racism until I went to a CHRISTIAN college. It was evident that some people at my school only knew about black people from TV or the people they saw in the hall at school. Why are the Christians who support racial reconciliation and recognize that we have some real deep racial wounds and issues to deal with, harshly critized by the Christian comminuty? Do you have to be a liberal to agree that human life matters? To believe that something must be done about the clear racial divides in our nation? Are we denying that “white flight” and racism still exist? Researchers will tell you that it still exists. What needs to be said for people to WAKE UP and STAND UP and say NO MORE? If I read the Bible correctly, as Christians, we are brothers and sisters in Christ right? If we are, maybe we should start acting like it. Also, the fact that every Christian who speaks out about racism and Mike Brown, has to give a laundry list of disclaimers so that some of their Christian friends will know that they “believe in the police” & “don’t agree with looting”, so they don’t have to deal with a backlash of comments, is awful. As a Christian and African-American seeing posts from some of my Caucasian brothers and sisters is disheartening. We don’t have to agree for you to show compassion on a mourning community and parents that had to bury their son too soon. I get everyone has their beliefs but dismissing people’s pain and justifying a teen being shot over 6 times, because of an alleged theft, even though he reached a point of surrender, is cruel. I am posing a lot of questions because I don’t have all the answers.  I want us to think about these issues together.

How can we unite together as a church? How can we break the walls of racial segregation in our local church? Let’s start opening up this conversation. Honestly until we are able to have healthy productive conversations where neither side is predicting what the other will say, maybe we can move forward. Until we come to the table and lay our swords and daggers down, nothing will change. Remember the church has always been in the thick of controversy. This situation should not be any different. I want to work with others that desire to see change in our communities and churches. I want us to unite together instead of focusing on tearing each other apart. I have found that social media makes it way to easy to let our typed our words be used as daggers to hurt one another. Can we try for once to evaluate our typed words as well as the ones spoken? They are just as powerful. I believe we will have to account for them too.

 (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

There are several things the African-American community is doing to actively better our communities around the U.S. and I pray these initiatives last and we see true change in my generation and the ones behind me. Despite having disadvantages that does not condone crime nor does it give people the right to murder over petty crime. This is a pivotal time for the African-American’s to see change in their communities and push for a well-balanced local government. What Antonio French is doing with #HealSTL and registering young people to vote is huge. I hope this situation has encouraged young people to find their voice and to understand that their voice matters and their lives matter. I hope this situation has awakened black youth and that they realize their true value to society. I believe in black youth. 

Here is what I plan to do:

  • Join with other churches who will assist in providing relief and aid to the community/churches of Ferguson
  • Join a local organization that focuses on the empowerment/education of African-Americans in the community
  • Mentor African American Youth
  • Join in conversation with churches and individuals about racial reconciliation and be apart of building a bridge
  • Keep the conversation going: Silence will not bring about change

Growing up I did not focus on racial differences. I was taught to love people, all people. Even when injustice occurred around me, I was taught to stand strong. I love different cultures. My friends are very diverse. I love having friends of different cultures. There is so much I learn from our open conversations. If more people were open to talking, less hatred would exist today. Until you are open to talking to me about my culture and heritage in a kind manner, please do not expect me to be happy when I see comments that are clearly racist. It is hurtful and disappointing. I have cried enough over the senseless and hateful comments people have made about the black community. So I plead with you, come to the table ready to listen. I too am coming to the table with an open heart and an open mind.

I love being Black. I love my natural hair. I love my community. I am educated and I have a successful career. I vote and pay my taxes. I think we have some work and growing to do as a people but I will play a part in changing the narrative that has been written for African-American’s in the US. If you are reading this and you are working to bring reconciliation amongst your church, let’s talk together. I do not have all the answers but I want to hear from other people and church leaders actively seeking to unite their congregations.

Messing Everything Up

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As a young child, I liked order, I liked things done MY way. I would often play by myself because I didn’t like the games that other kids were playing.

When I was about four years old, I was playing with a Fisher-Price castle at my grandparents’ house. I carefully arranged all the plastic figures inside and built an intricate scene.

My two year old sister was creeping closer. I was anxiously blocking her because she did not share my methodical, orderly play preferences. My grandpa asked why I wouldn’t let her play. I told him, “Grandpa, she’s going to mess everything up!”

With a mischievous glint in his eye, he said, “Oh, no she won’t.”

“Ooookay,” I sighed.

Within seconds, she had successfully “messed everything up” as I had predicted. I looked back at my grandpa and said, “See? I told you.”

I’m not sure where this idea of cultivating a “perfect” life orginated. Maybe we can blame pinterest or facebook, but I’m sure this pressure existed before that.

We are taught that there is a right way to do things, an ideal that we should want for our lives. If we’re honest, I’m sure we all want to live happy, productive lives.

But what if God intends for our lives to be more than simply “happy” or “productive”? What if He plans to “mess everything up”? To derail our plans.

{Spoiler alert: that’s exactly what He wants to do!}


…we have a calling to give generously, but voices chide that it is foolish

…we have a calling to adopt, but voices warn us that it will bring heartache. 

….we have a calling to recklessly engage in community, but voices whisper that it will be messy.

…we have a calling to advocate for justice, but voices shout that it will make people uncomfortable.

There could be something that God is calling you into that you don’t even want to acknowledge. When you think about it, your stomach tightens and you want to change the subject, fast.

You could ignore it and persist in building a “good” life. (Like the silly plastic castle scene I had devised as playtime perfection as a child.) 

Or obey the call that looks like it will “mess everything up”, but it is the way to a better life–the Way, the Truth, and the Life. His way will open up a door to something you never could have imagined for yourself.

But that’s exactly where fear holds us back! Sometimes we’re more comfortable with our plastic castle, our way of doing things.

Even though it scares me and I’ll probably have to recommit to this several times each week… 

I’m choosing to let Him mess everything up.

How about you?

Dear God,

If we’ve asked you to be our Savior, help us release our will,

and let you be our Lord, our Leader.

Help us to focus on your voice alone.

Surround us with others who can encourage us and support us as we strive to live for you.

In your name, Amen.