Author Archives: Joni

Peace with No Guilt

Life is a little strange right now. It’s like in sitting in a big green valley, surrounded on every side by mountains with a river meandering down the middle of it. The sky is blue, and I have time to breathe and smell the flowers.

Only, that’s not figurative. That’s literal. That valley I just described is home to Snohomish, where we’ll be moving at the end of June. And that time to breathe and smell the flowers is true — I really do have that time right. I just finished my degree. I have an excellent job that really exemplifies that “work/life balance” truly is about. I’m at peace, and it’s quite lovely.

But strangely, I don’t think I fully accept this peace. I was caught remarking to a friend that I just didn’t know when it would end, and it had me on edge. Her response was: “What if it lasts a decade?”

What a reality check! Instead of thoroughly enjoying this peace, I’m bringing an unsettled nature on myself as if I don’t deserve this peace and it will be short-lived. As a result, my life isn’t fully at peace. It got me to thinking about how we go through trials and deep waters of life. When we get to the other side, do we want to turn around and jump back into the turbulence? No. So why do we live like we’re going to?

It’s very clear what God has in mind for those who follow Him:

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” ~ Psalm 38:3-4

“The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace. ” ~ Psalm 29:11

So why, when we’ve committed our way to the Lord, is it so easy to not accept the blessings He pours out on us? Perhaps it’s simply that we need to quiet our hearts. To “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). More than that, however, by not allowing ourselves to have full peace, we’re telling God that He’s not good enough. Check out this verse:

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” ~ Isaiah 26:3

It’s humbling. Therefore, I’m resolved to get over myself and to allow myself to fully trust in God and accept the good things He has bestowed on me and my family — for as long as it should last and without worry about what the future holds.

And, it’s only fitting that I close with this much-quoted verse from Numbers 6:24-26:

 “The Lord bless you
and keep you;
      the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
      the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace. ”


Flash Flooding

In the southwestern U.S., there are many places in dry canyons that look ideal for camping. They’re close — but not too close — to a small river, there’s hiking and sunshine, and protection/shade from the great cliffs. Yet, there are signs that warn about flash flooding.

In desert or particularly dry areas, flash floods can be particularly deadly for several reasons. First, storms in arid regions are infrequent, but they can deliver an enormous amount of water in a very short time. Second, these rains often fall on poorly-absorbent and often clay-like soil, which greatly increase the amount of runoff that rivers and other water channels have to handle.  The runoff collects in low-lying areas and rapidly flows downhill.

You will not always have a warning that these deadly, sudden floods are coming. But if you are in the pathway of such a flood, you’ll be scrambling for your life.

Such is true in life. We may have a time where all is calm and beautiful. Things are going smoothly, and we’re content. Then, out of nowhere, a flash flood threatens to drown us. Undoubtedly, this is a fight for your life — where you fight to hang on or you could lose everything.

In areas prone to flash floods, there are many signs warning of the danger. In our lives, particularly in our spiritual lives, a feeling of being really comfortable should be a warning sign that’s flashing at us saying, “watch out — the big one is coming!”

Some people disregard the signs warning about the potential for a flash flood, and many people lose their lives each year. The same is true figuratively. By not being prepared, we can easily be swept away by the floods that try to quench our spirits. It could be related to home life, work, friendships, or even issues within your own soul, such as depression, anxiety or you name it.

Oh how I have been there. And crazy as it may sound, the floods are pretty predictable. They’ve come when I’m content and comfortable — where I’ve dug out my little rut in life and think I could stay in a particular place forever. When I feel untouchable. When I feel confident in my abilities and plans, and everything seems to be in place. The floods have always come. Some have really knocked me for a loop, and it was all I could do to keep my head above water.

One major flood for Ian and me, believe it or not, was when we found out we were having twins. Everyone was so happy for us, but we were just drowning. Financially, we were in trouble. We had a tiny car that would not hold us and three kids. We had a teeny apartment — same issue. We would have to triple our daycare payment. And baby items? HAH — thinking we were good with one set of everything for our “baby” suddenly turned to panic as we realized we’d need two high chairs, two car seats, two cribs, double the diapers. We had one huge roller coaster of events relating to the birth of our twins, including a move, unemployment, financial struggles, aloneness — it went on and on. And the only thing we had to cling to was our hope in God. Boy — did we ever cling! We came through that time period with God’s grace, but that was an adventure I never want to repeat.

If you feel that all is going smoothly, perhaps that’s your warning that you should be prepared. Build the safeguards. As Christians, we’ve been taught to put on the full armor of God to help you stand against those battles. Even if you’re missing a piece of this armor, you put yourself at risk. Be fully prepared.

God didn’t promise that we’ll escape the turbulent waters of life, but He does promise to never leave nor forsake us (Deut. 31:6). More than that, He has promised to be with us when we are stuck in the waters.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.” – Isaiah 43:2

I don’t necessarily have the answers to the things that will threaten to bring you down, but let me reiterate the two things I do know:

  1. Be prepared. When all is going smoothly, you should expect the current to pick up.
  2. Have your flotation device. My hope is in the Lord, and I know He is able to save — not just me, but you — during smooth sailing and the storms of life. He is the lifter of our heads, and is able to help us when we feel we’re about to drown.

Take shelter from the storm in the arms of the only one who can calm it.

(For an added bonus, I found this song: “Let the Waters Rise“)



Before the Morning

We’ve all been there. Something in life that hurts so bad and is beyond our comprehension.

The loss of a loved one from a terrible disease or an accident. A terrible situation we have to navigate and literally hope to survive with our life intact. Physical or emotional pain caused by another. A dark time, when we don’t know how long it will last or what’s on the other side, but we just know we can’t stay in this place forever. I’m sure you have your own examples.

What do we do in these times? And in particular, how do these times impact your relationship with God?

Folks respond in different ways to life’s trials. Some curl up in a ball and change nothing, holding on to their sorrow and pain like a blanket. Others get angry — and angry with God for inflicting them with this situation. Some spiral deep into despair and depression, barely clinging on to the fragile hem of life. Others take the bull by the horns and try to change the direction of the storm; they try to black out the pain or focus on something else to distract them (often only to find that they can’t let go of the thing that haunts them). And others are anchored in hope and trust — relying on God to guide them through this time.

Folks, I can’t take your hurt away. But I can tell you what has worked for me. There is no way I would have made it through the things in life without the hope I have in Christ Jesus. He is able to carry us (and our burdens) through the trouble times and the good times. He is my leaning post, and He’s never let me down. It may take a while to sort through things, but He’s been there each step of the way.

A friend recently confided in me that her teenage daughter is angry with God because her cousin died. Angry enough to turn her back on the God she’s known her entire life. She wonders how God could cause such pain. This immediately makes me think of the verse from the book of Job in the Bible:

“Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” ~ Job 2:10

I think that simple phrase sums up a lot about how people feel. They only want blessings from God, but aren’t willing to go through the tough times. But in tough times, do we really think we have the whole picture? We simply don’t. We have no idea why some things happen. Are we allowed to be upset and angry — to question God? Yes. (In a way that pours out the heart, but does not sin against God.)

Back to the book of Job, if you’ve ever read it, it comes across as depressing. But I encourage you to really read it. Look at this man who had everything taken from him and cries out to God from the depths of his soul. He cries out to God, and God answers. (Read chapters 38 – 42) God’s ultimate answer, “Everything under the heavens is Mine; therefore, who can have a claim against God?” Sounds harsh, but think about it. Read these chapters and you may comprehend. Believe it or not, I really love this book.

Anyway, this blog post may not help you sort through the trials you have before you. But I have some thoughts to leave with you to help you ponder. The links lead to the full songs.

Before the Morning ~ by Josh Wilson

Do you wonder why you have to,
feel the things that hurt you,
if there’s a God who loves you,
where is He now?

Maybe, there are things you can’t see
and all those things are happening
to bring a better ending
some day, some how, you’ll see, you’ll see

Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
’cause the pain you’ve been feeling,
can’t compare to the joy that’s coming

so hold on, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you’ve been feeling,
it’s just the dark before the morning

Blessings ~ Laura Story

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise


My friends, dare to believe that God does love you — more than you can possibly understand. He cares about you and has a plan for your life. When there appears to be no hope — when you’re in the deepest, darkest part of life — He is there with His unfailing love. May you rest in this hope and knowledge.

Giving Up = Victory?

Seven months ago, I packed up my family and moved far away from what we knew and loved to a strange place — the west side of Washington. As you may have seen on this blog, this transition has been an interesting mix of struggles and blessings.

As I’ve gone through some tough times lately, I’ve wondered, “Did I make a mistake in moving here?”

Then, the answer hit me: who is calling the shots? Is it me? Am I fully in charge of my own destiny? Or do I trust, as a follower of Christ, that this promise holds true:

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

I began to reflect on this and my own circumstances. Yes, I may have made the ultimate decision to move. But God is working through the choices I/we make to ensure that His will is done. In my family’s case, I think my job — which I have resigned effective March 7 — was the tool to get us to the place God wants us to be. Why do I say that?

First, everything about our move was seamless. The first house we looked at renting was perfect and at a wonderful price. We’re in a great school district, and the kids are all thriving in their classes.

Ian has had amazing opportunities over here. He landed a great job at an aerospace manufacturing company, and already has been promoted to purchasing manager. He has been affecting positive change, and has thrived in this place. In addition, he was offered two — yes, two — associate pastor positions with local churches. These are both bivocational, meaning he will still work full time. But this is the opportunity he’s been asking God to provide. We are in the final “review” phase with our family’s choice for these two positions.

But what about my job? I have learned a lot, both in terms of the PR profession, as well as about new industries: cloud computing and cloud infrastructure automation, managed file transfer, enterprise fraud management, terminal emulation, IT power management and efficiency, etc. (Ian likes this because I can finally talk “computer” with him without my eyes glazing over.) But, I have had some struggles particularly in the last five weeks that made me question if I was in the right place. I’m not going to glaze this one over: my work has been very trying and exceedingly stressful.

WHY?!” is the question I asked God repeatedly. “Why did you bring us to this place? Did I do something to deserve this, because it’s really not cool.

And amazingly, God’s answer came. It always does, if you take time to wait and listen for it. He said, “You are my will.” What on earth does that mean? It means that I have yielded myself to God’s will and will serve God where He places me. It’s not my will that I choose to live for. I know God has called me/us for a greater purpose. I allowed Him to work through us to bring us to this place (reasons for this path are still unfolding). My job was the tool to get us where He wanted us to be.

Does that mean I was happy where I was? No. In addition, I was stressed because I have a tremendously well-paying job, and not having this employment would be a considerable financial hit for our family. And God (respectfully) received an earful of what I was going through and consistently received a petition to release me from where I had been place. Does God mind when we tell Him what’s on our hearts? Absolutely not! Think about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew what was before Him and his purpose, but it didn’t make it easier. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22.42) He knew that laying down His life would require complete surrender.

I think God wants our full surrender before He’s willing to reveal His plan. He’s gently saying, “Until you realize you can’t do this on your own, you’re never going to trust me. So you do your thing until you’re ready, and then we’ll chat.” He knows it’s tough to have full surrender — but He’s made it so easy! Listen to this:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

What a promise! He wants us to come to Him with the burdens of our life. And that’s exactly what I did. The beauty of God is that His ears don’t get full — He will listen. And in due time, God will deliver you if that’s His will.

Last week, it became clear that God was going to release me from my obligation. We finally got a renter for our house in Moscow, which is a tremendous financial savings. We had an incredible tax refund (probably triple anything we’ve ever had). And this pastoral position that we’re in the final phase with includes a parsonage (no rent!). All the pieces just stacked up, and I felt God say it was “okay” to move forward with ending my current employment. So I gave my resignation and have been working with my firm to tie up loose ends.

I have to tell you: I have such an incredible sense of peace, and a huge weight has been lifted off me (and not just me — my entire family). It took full surrender for me to realize that in surrender, we gain victory over the things that bog us down and take our focus off Christ.

For today, let me leave you with this message. It’s a great song. Listen to it and take the words to heart, and it gave me strength as I moved to the point where God gave me the freedom to move on.


Love, Acknowledgment and Acceptance

Our little Noah is a very affectionate boy. One of my favorite moments each day is when he gets out of bed, rushes in to wherever I am and clings to me in a fierce hug. Oh how I relish this time.

But Noah doesn’t easily say, “I love you.” I say it to him frequently, because I really do love my child. There was a time when he simply wouldn’t say it at all. In response to me saying I loved him, he’d grab on to me and hold me tight. So one day I asked him if he loved me, and he said “yes” with such strength I know it to be true. So I gently coached him and said, “When you love someone, you need to tell them. It’s not just enough to hold them — people need to hear it.” And since that time, Noah has verbalized his love. It pops out when he is moved to say it, and is not just a response to me telling him I love him. Ahhh…what a great feeling it evokes in his mama!

This leads me to a topic I’ve been mulling over this week, part of which came from this great article in Harvard Business Review on why appreciation matters. One quote, in particular, stood out to me:

“Whatever else each of us derives from our work, there may be nothing more precious than the feeling that we truly matter — that we contribute unique value to the whole, and that we’re recognized for it.”

Isn’t that the truth?

And how much this crosses over into every aspect of our lives, not just work.

For example, my kids have certain chores they are assigned throughout the week. Most days, it’s a specific cleaning task and something related to dinner cleanup. Oh how they kvetch! What kills me is the phrase I’ve had thrown at me in the last couple weeks, “We do all the work around here, Mom. You don’t do anything.”

I remember that thought from when I was a kid. A different life, a different parent, and perhaps it was mostly true in my life. But as a parent to these kids, it broke my heart to hear it. They don’t connect “work” as me coming home from a tremendous day of work, and spending the next two solid hours getting their dinner fixed, helping them through homework, doing laundry, a lot of time helping with dinner cleanup, and on and on. Their perception is far from reality, yet I constantly judge myself on what people see vs. what I know I’m doing. Don’t we all?

Self-worth is hard to get right. We pile all kinds of junk on top of who we really are in an effort to be people we’re not. How do we fix this?

First, read the article I referenced above and apply it — put it into practice and reverse the trend of negativity toward others. Then, take the concept beyond appreciation and recognition — people need to know they’re loved, and loved for who they are rather than  who you would want them to be. Just love people where they’re at.

I know a young man who is very different that his peers (okay, I know several of them…). But this young man was never welcomed into a social circle because he was slightly off. He was flat out ignored. I made time to get to know him and know his heart, and he is a gentle giant with some life struggles. I was able to meet him where he was at and love him for who he is, rather than my expectations of what I may have thought he should be. When this young man struggles with darkness, I think encounters like he and I have had keep him afloat — someone loves him and recognizes him for who he is.

In my own life, I can relate. I take great comfort in the love of my husband, who despite my [few? haha] imperfections, loves me with his whole heart. He accepts me the way I am. His love is something I cling to in those dark moments. Yet, while this is an amazing driver for me, it doesn’t compare to the amazing love and grace I unquestionably receive from God.

This leads me to step two: get over yourself. This has been a week of mass trial for me, and I have been brought to tears by the hardness of life. For a strong woman like me, that’s quite a feat. But I’ve allowed God (yes, allowed) to love me. I accept that He doesn’t just want me to love and adore him. Like a young child sometimes just needs a parent to cling to and wash away the world, I have found that comfort in God, who nourishes my soul, lifts me from the muck and mire, is strong enough to carry all my burdens and provides peace — IF I let Him do so.

It’s not just easy to turn stuff over to God. We’re hoarders. We want to cling to it and claim it as our own. We want to think our problems are the worst. But I have found, especially over the last several months, that it’s simply too much. Better yet, when I turn — throw — them onto God, He is faithful and does what He’s promised. He carries my burden, and He holds me in the strength of His embrace. Ahhh…to be loved unconditionally.

If you don’t know this blessing, this promise, let’s chat about it. Why would you want to carry a burden that you don’t have to?

Things of gratitude:

  1. God’s promises, which I have clung to and found to be true.
  2. The promise of spring budding — literally and figuratively — in my life.
  3. A simple pleasure after a terrible day: working late meant I had a $.80 cheaper toll.
  4. Watching my son play the cello in his first concert.
  5. Listening to my daughter enjoy her brother’s concert, and having it bring song to her lips.
  6. A babysitter so I can go out on a date with my husband. Just the two of us. Alone. First time in months!
  7. That precious morning hug from Noah, which I received in the middle of writing this blog.

A New Thing

The start of a new year is a time for remembering — for looking back at your year and reflecting on your experiences. In honor of 2011, here are the things that come to mind:

  1. The death of my grandfather in January. Beyond the regular reasons we mourn for people, this is a man who pursued me — who wanted to know me as his granddaughter despite the havoc that divorce wreaked on my family. He wanted a relationship and sought me out. And I know from the bottom of my heart that he was a good and godly man.
  2. Completing the first year of an intense master’s degree program was a major accomplishment. Then, in December, I completed the third semester. As of this post, only four months and three days until I graduate!
  3. Traveling to Italy with my love — Ian — and some folks from my graduate cohort in May. It was 10 days of much-needed R&R, and we experienced the beauty, the joy and the history that is Italy. It was an awesome time.
  4. I can’t forget the University of Idaho! A special memory was wrapping up the final legs of the president’s leadership tour, which reinforced the goodwill we had established with the first tour in 2009.
  5. Our college students in Moscow. I have so many memories, but I will note two here. First, the anti-paparazzi Nazi’s at the jazz festival. These students wanted to help me manage the media at the university’s Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival. Dressed in black (to blend in with the curtain and the stage), and armed with radios, they were empowered to stop flashing cameras and make media “toe the line.” They also got to go to the after-hours party with me.
  6. The other special memory with our college students is the final shooting event we organized in April. We would go out to the home of two of our students (way out in the country), set up targets and shoot lots of ammo. This one was made special by an awesome pig roast (with a donated pig!) and the addition of bow-and-arrow shooting.
  7. Forever I will remember the day I helped an intern do a job search — only to come across the job posting that would change our path. I went home and applied that night, had my first call the next morning, second call the following week, and was hired at Communique PR in Seattle shortly thereafter.
  8. The time that I gained with my family through our move. Despite having crazier schedules due to commutes, I feel that we have more down time with the kids. This fall, we enjoyed exploring parks, beaches and neighborhoods; playing games; trying out different restaurants; and growing together as a family.
  9. My brother’s wedding in October. We gained a sister and a niece, enjoyed the beauty on my dad’s land as the backdrop to their simple wedding, saw Ian marry them (which made it even more special), and just enjoyed family.
  10. Our end-of-year trip to the San Francisco Bay Area to see Ian’s folks. We hadn’t spent Christmas down there since 2001 (10 years!), and it was good to make memories with family while remembering our special time there.
  11. It should be first, but it’s first and last and in the middle. I remember this year as the year God taught me to be content. Whether it was in Moscow in the midst of a chaos we loved, driving back and forth across Washington on the weekends in August, settling into new everything this fall, or simply wondering what was in store for us, He has proven faithful. I may not always understand why or what is in store, but when I realize and remember that God is bigger than it all and has it in control, I really have no choice but to surrender it to him.

There. Eleven memories from 2011. And now I declare it done. 2011 is forever gone. And I encourage you to do the same. Be done with the old and embrace the new.

Do not remember the former things; neither consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it?” ~Isaiah 43:18-19

“I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.” ~Philippians 3:13-14

Don’t live in regret and the way things used to be. Life is before you. A new thing! Grasp it and enjoy!

My quick gratitude list:

  1. A puzzle, of all things, that is allowing me to spend some crazy time with my husband.
  2. A new schedule for the kids that gives them some freedom and responsibility.
  3. Feeling ahead of the curve (for now!) with my school work.
  4. A short week due to the holiday, a short week next week due to class, and a short week the week after due to another holiday. It helps me transition after the Christmas and New Year’s vacations.
  5. A mysterious God, who keeps us own our toes.


Walking Blind

The other day, I was driving into Seattle after dropping the kids off at school. It was an incredibly foggy morning (which I was loving, by the way). After crossing Lake Washington and merging onto I-5 north, I saw the strangest thing. There was a vertical beam of brilliance. I stared at this for a couple seconds before I realized it must be the sun reflecting off a sky-rise building. It was such a pretty sight to behold. About 50 car lengths later, I emerged into a fully sunlight area. No fog! The sun was reflecting off all the buildings in such a way that I had to shield my eyes. And to add to the drama, the Christmas music I was listening to suddenly had a crescendo. It was really a cool moment.

Then, I had the a-ha moment.

With the fog, I had an idea of where I was going, but the whole path wasn’t lit for me. I was following the path knowing I would get to my destination in time, but I had a limited view of what was going on around me. But then, the whole picture was made evident and I could clearly see.

Where am I going with this? Let me tell you. And let me also reinforce how when God wants to convey something to you, he uses multiple resources. I had this thought, coupled with my devotional reading from the book Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow, which I’ve been working through over the last month. Here was the example I read the next morning:

Imagine you are standing at the top of Niagara Falls. A tightrope is stretched above the water between the two shores. On the tightrope is a man with a wheelbarrow. In the wheelbarrow is a 200-pound Saint Bernard dog. You watch in amazement as the man pushes the dog and the wheelbarrow safely back and forth above the falls.

After his fifth successful trip, the man turns to the crowd and says, “I can easily take a man or woman across the falls in this wheelbarrow. Do you believe this?” You think, “No problem! After all, most people would weigh less than the huge dog and not squirm as much.” As you vigorously nod your head, agreeing that the man could do such a thing, he turns, points to you and says, “Get in.”

The point she conveyed is that it’s one thing to believe God can do something. It’s quite a different situation to put yourself in a position of reliant trust. That is the distinction between intellectual belief and wholehearted faith.

This move for us has been that leap of wholehearted faith. We have no idea what is before us. Our intellectual belief says, “Yeah, we trust in God.” But rather than just stating it and staying where we were, comfortable and stagnant, we acted on our wholehearted faith that let God lead us where he would have us to go.

Do we have the answer to his grand plan yet? No. Sometimes that takes years for people to even glimpse, let alone see the big picture. But I was heartened by this verse this week, from yet another reading I’m doing with the kids through Advent.

“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16

See how all these things come together?

When we’re wondering how God will guide us in the future, about the only thing we can be sure of is that it will be in a way we never expected, maybe even in a way he’s never done before. This happened to Mary and Joseph years ago as they experienced Mary’s pregnancy and the following birth of Christ, and all the wondrous miracles that ensued. And the wondrous miracles have not stopped there. God is very real and present in our lives today. He has a plan for each one of us.

Yes, his timing is not our timing. Remember to look up Isaiah 55:8-9 if you question this. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that he’s smarter than we are, and he sees things in ways we don’t understand. If God seems reluctant to answer our prayers and meet our needs, you can be sure it’s for a good reason.

This Christmas season, I encourage you to evaluate your faith. Is it intellectual belief, or wholehearted faith? It’s no small thing to trust and obey and to take that step in faith. Don’t miss the breathtaking by getting bogged down in the fog. Hang in there and stay the course!

My moments of thanksgiving:

1. Silly as it sounds, a good hair day!

2. A great weekend with the family.

3. Peace (somehow) about my insane study schedule.

4. The smiles I get on my face as I view God’s creation and fun surprises during my drive into the city.

5. Knowing I have a Savior that loves me and wants what is absolutely the best for me and my family.

6. A healthy family.

7. Joy in connecting with a stranger and having a positive impact on his day.


I can’t wait until…

This title is one of the section headers in this book I’ve been reading and blogging about, and it got me to thinking about the roles I’ve played in my life.

Child, daughter, sister, student, page, friend, wife, mother, aunt, niece, teacher, professional, peer.

So where am I know? Where are you now?

I found that as I considered my roles, I was always looking for the next thing. “I can’t wait until I graduate from high school because…” “I can’t wait until I get married because…” Now, it’s “I can’t wait to finish my MBA degree because…” and “I can’t wait ’til God lets me know what He wants for us to do because…”

The issue with thinking this way is that there is never contentment in where you are at this exact moment. We’re busy biding our time eager to be in the next role. When do we stop and take it all in? More importantly, when do we see our life and our current role from God’s perspective?

Are we content with where we are — the role God has assigned to us as this present moment? Or are we waiting for what we deem to be “the right thing in the future” thinking that this place we are right now couldn’t possibly be what God meant for us.

Consider Matthew 7:9-11:

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

Is it possible that where we are right now is exactly where God meant us to be — that He has given us His best at this exact moment? As my book noted:

“If we’re trusting God that His portion for us is best, we can make the secret choices that will bring us a heart of contentment. If we don’t accept God’s portion for us, we will become [people] with spirits of discontent.”

This is not to say that where we are right now isn’t free of trials or pain. God didn’t say life would be perfect for us. But He does require something of us. His Word tells us, “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. (I Cor. 4:2)

We are to be faithful. Where we’re at. Nothing more is asked of us.

For me, that means to be content where I feel so helpless and alone. To serve God where I’m at and with the gifts He has given to me. To enjoy the commute time I have after work as I have some uninterrupted time to talk to my husband. To enjoy the few hours I have with my family at the end of a chaotic day. To enjoy my studies and absorb what I’m learning. To take time to be quiet before the role of the future brings noise and busyness to our lives yet again. Perhaps my role now is a patient — to be healed from the insanity that was our lives for several years.

Take time — make time — to soak in the role you hold right now. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. ~ Matthew 6:34

My list of today’s blessings:

  1. An extra tight good morning hug from my youngest son.
  2. The extra time I had with my children this morning because of the rain (and not wanting them to walk to school in it, so I gave them a ride)
  3. The pleasure in seeing an immense storm roll into town.
  4. A seamless commute into the city.
  5. Peace throughout the day despite a busy workload.
  6. Coming home to dinner ready.
  7. A call from a dear friend.
  8. An email from another dear friend.
  9. Finishing a grueling assignment.
  10. A special “free movie” ticket received in the mail from a dear friend.

We Moved: Now What?

The phrase in my headline is exactly how we felt — and possibly do still feel — regarding our move.

Despite the new opportunities that came with a new, exciting and challenging job in Seattle, we left so much behind. Our college students, who we love and adore — who had become our family. Our church family. Our friends. Our co-workers. Our kids’ friends and schools. Memories from having roots in an area for six years. Stability. Support.

Now, we’re in a completely “foreign” land.

After having a supportive church family, we’re struggling to find our place. Part of this is due to Ian’s ministerial track and his desire, our need, to plug in somewhere. There is a Nazarene church just a few blocks from our house, and we have gone there a couple times. But there currently is no need for a leaders. It’s a small church with two staff pastors. Ian met with the district superintendent a couple weeks ago, and he suggested Ian look at a small church where he could serve as a “bivocational” pastor. We drove an hour to get there. Couldn’t tip our hand to reveal we were there to scope out an opportunity. And in reality, we can’t lead a church that we have to drive an hour (at best) to get to. There simply is no way to diligently serve the people in that regard. So we declined.

We’re still seeking connections here. Our coworkers live in different areas, so none are close to where we are (a disadvantage of a big metropolitan area). Thank God my husband and I are best friends, and can rely on each other.

Our kids feel at odds in their new school, and are struggling to fit into a group of kids that has established friendships.

Our schedule is amazing. Perhaps that’s not quite the word I’m looking for, so let me describe it. Ian and I get up at 4:45 a.m. to get him out the door by about 5:50 a.m. I’m on the clock for work at 6:30 a.m., while I wait for our kids to get up and get ready for the day. The four of us leave the house about 7:55 a.m.; they walk and I drive to Seattle. I arrive in the office about 8:30 a.m. We all do our thing: work and school. If we’re lucky, Ian leaves work at 3:45 p.m., I leave work at 4:30 p.m., and we both arrive in Bellevue (hopefully by 5:30 p.m.!). Pick up kids. Come home, make dinner, do some activity, and get the kids to bed by 7:30 p.m. Work on homework or whatever else we have to do, and crash by 8:45 p.m., only to repeat.

I look at this life and wonder, what did we do? We have so much to be thankful for, but I struggle with the dichotomy between where we were and where we are. Two different lives.

It reminds me of another place in our lives: the fall of 2002. I had learned just a couple months previously that I was expecting twins. We couldn’t stay in California due to the high costs, so we made the decision to pack up and move ” back home” to Spokane. And when we arrived, we were in a similar situation to where we now find ourselves. That was one of the most difficult periods of my life. There were nights that Ian and I just hung on to each other and cried. Here, in 2011, I wouldn’t quite say I’ve hit that wall. But I’m asking God a lot of questions such as why, for what, and what next?

This summer, we led our college kids through a video series about being in the great unknown. It featured an explorer on his quest to cross Antarctica unsupported. Through howling winds, freezing temperatures and loneliness, he also cried out to God. And the answer he received is an answer I’ve had running through my head this entire adventure:

I have brought you to this place for a reason.

And we know God is good. So I turn to His promises. Isaiah 55:8-15. Jeremiah 29:11. We don’t yet know what God has in store for us. We don’t know if this is His long-term plan, or a stepping stone. But we can rely on Him to fulfill His purpose for us.

As I mentioned in my last blog, I’m reading a book on contentment. In that book is a tea cup analogy. God has designed us each as a  very special cup. Some of us are dainty and beautiful tea cups. Some are rugged and sturdy. Some are chipped around the edges. But regardless of what kind of cup He has designed us to be, God fills our cup with our portion — what He determines as best for us. The words of the section ring so true:

“Every cup — whether dainty china or rough-hewn pottery — has a handle. God has placed our portion in our cup. We either choose to grasp is by the handle and life it to Him, saying, ‘I accept my portion; I accept this cup,’ or we choose to smash our cup to pieces, saying, ‘God, I refuse my portion. This cup is not the right size for me and I don’t like what you’ve put in it. I’ll control my life myself.'”

Contentment is accepting God’s sovereign control over all of life’s circumstances. And today, I relinquish control knowing that I certainly have no idea and no way to get through it other than by relying on God.

Today’s list of thankfulness:

  1. A great evening with my children.
  2. Flu shots.
  3. Seeing the stars above the city’s skyline.
  4. Heat, which we generally take for granted.
  5. A new, exciting and challenging job for me.
  6. A great job for Ian that allows him to interact with coworkers daily and be challenged.
  7. A break from the insanity of our schedules last year, which does give us time as family every single day.


Life on the Wet Side: How this journey came to be

Nearly five months ago, my intern Sam Chafe came to visit me in my office at the University of Idaho and asked for some help in looking for jobs since he was wrapping up his degree. I kindly obliged, and while showing him some places to look, stumbled across a job opportunity in Seattle. That evening, when I got home, I pulled up the job, gave it some thought and decided to apply. I nonchalantly mentioned it to Ian when he got home that night, thinking nothing would come of it.

But the next morning, at 8:03 a.m., I received a call from the search firm helping Communique PR on this recruitment effort. By the end of the day, I’d had my first interview and was scheduled to have a second — which took place a few days later on my birthday (this is the second job opportunity that has had a connection to my birthday, something I find interesting). At that time, I was told the firm wanted me to come in for an in-person interview. Due to some obligations I had with my role at the university, it ultimately was not scheduled until July 8 — almost a month later.

In the meantime, Ian — who you may or may not know is well on his journey to become a pastor in the Church of the Nazarene — had what looked like an opportunity crop up at a local church. We were ready to pass on Seattle and take up this post in a small church that needed to be re-established. We were not sure what God wanted for us,but we were ready to do His bidding wherever He led us. I *almost* bailed on my third interview for the Seattle job, truly feeling pulled toward Pullman. We had taken our family to check out the church and the parsonage, developed a scope of work for the local church advisory board, had a name picked out for the church, and our kids were willing to get up and go. Our pastor had all but said the keys were ours if we wanted them.But, the big but, we simply had no indication that this opportunity would truly present itself.

In the meantime, I went to Seattle and had a delightful interview. I was 99% sure I’d have an offer, which was indeed presented to me within a week’s time. I had a long weekend in which to make a decision. And we were incredibly torn.

Ian spoke to pastors on the church advisory board, who said they didn’t have any movement and weren’t sure anything would take place for several more months. One actually told Ian I should take the job in Seattle. We prayed continuously, asking God to reveal His plan (we should know that God has His own thoughts about things and often times we aren’t privy to those thoughts or His timing). I gave the university an opportunity to counter offer, but they declined on every front. It seemed like what had been an open door in Pullman was quickly shut on us, and all signs pointed to Seattle. But still we hemmed and hawed. Until the morning I had to give an answer to Seattle, I was truly torn as to what the answer should be. I’m fortunate to have some trusted advisers, and was able to seek their counsel. Two weeks previously, they’d all said “Pullman.” And the morning of my decision, they ALL said “Seattle.” And just like that, I picked up the phone and accepted.

In a future post, I’ll write more about what has happened since that fateful morning of July 19.

However, what I wanted to note with this post is that sometimes we think God’s will for us is what seems to be the most obvious path. In reality, that’s not necessarily the case. So how do you know what path to choose — particularly in a tough situation? The answer is actually very simple. Trust in God. Trust that His hand will guide you — even if you make the “wrong” choice.  Psalm 16:5 and Romans 8:28 make this very clear. Contentment will come from accepting from God’s hand what He sends because we know He is good.


In closing, here are today’s “gifts” in my life for which I am thankful:

  1. God is guiding my path, even when I think I’m choosing the direction.
  2. God will not give me more than I am able to sustain.
  3. I have a wonderful new job.
  4. Friday evenings, with no “must do” activities looming over the weekend.
  5. The “safe” delivery of our final item from our move (our gun safe).
  6. A car that allows me to play music from my phone so I can have some music to help me as I sing songs to God on my drive home. (Yes, God accepts our praises, but it helps me to think I sound better with the music.)
  7. A beautiful lake that I get to cross twice a day, with incredible views of mountains and bald eagles.
  8. Peace and contentment that God is bringing to me.
  9. A Friday night, which means we can stay up past 9 p.m. and sleep in past 4:45 a.m. tomorrow.