Posted in Faith

This is Why You’re Struggling in 2021

Someone dropped this meme in a group text the other day. When I first saw it, I thought the pic was photoshopped- a ship that large couldn’t possibly be stuck in actual mud with a tiny excavator trying to dig it out. Now, you better believe I still saved it to my phone and texted it to basically everyone I knew because it’s so darned relatable. But still, the photo was so ludicrous that I assumed it had been cobbled together by someone with a sense of humor and a knack for photo editing.

Later that day, however, I realized the photo was real. I’m sure you’ve heard about the mammoth container ship that was stuck in the Suez Canal until just a few hours ago, blocking traffic through one of the world’s busiest shipping channels. While reading a news story, I realized the image in the meme was an actual picture of an actual excavator trying dig out the Ever Given so that the nearly 300 other ships waiting outside the canal could resume their voyages, saving the already tenuous global economy from a shipping trade kerfuffle that could have ripple effects for years. Go, Little Digger, go!

When I last set fingers to keyboard on this blog almost a year and a half ago, it was November of 2019. That’s approximately 16 months in linear time, but in life experience years, it’s been about a decade. If, on the day I published my last blog post, I had texted myself a series of snapshots of life from March 2020 to March 2021, I’m pretty sure my response would have been the same as when I first saw that meme above. “That can’t possibly be real.”

Let’s take a minute to imagine what we would have thought if our 2021 self had texted our 2019 self images from the past year. Let’s start with those that are shared: masked people standing six feet apart from one another, closed schools, empty public spaces, overflowing hospitals, hundreds of thousands dead in our own country and millions across the world, widespread protests and spectacular political unrest.

Now let’s move to our own personal images because it seems like the past year has brought a disproportionate share of tragedy, trauma, and change to individuals and families in ways that are unrelated to the pandemic: lost jobs, cancer diagnoses, deaths by heart attack, suicide, and car accidents- and those are just off the top of my head from my own life and circle.

And then there are the intangibles: the grief…the exhaustion…the political tension…the isolation…the labor of hoisting our entire families on our backs and carrying them through circumstances we’re having a hard time navigating ourselves…the lost sleep…the lost events and experiences…the lost TIME…and let’s not forget the anger, I have heard so many friends mention processing deep anger and resentment at whole litany of people and circumstances…

It’s hard to imagine which of the images from the past year my 2019 self would have found the hardest to believe, but I think I have a guess:

It would be an image of me a few weeks ago, standing in the shower in a darkened bathroom, doubled over with body-wracking sobs, wondering what was wrong with me that I was so exhausted and unable to cope. My thoughts were racing and fixating on things like age, mortality, unstoppable change, and the inevitable grief that seems to be waiting as the years march on. The peace that passes understanding which was supposed to be guarding my heart and mind in Christ Jesus was inaccessible and I felt like a fraud of a Christian.

To be clear, it’s not the “sobbing in the shower” part that would have surprised me. I don’t think I would have even been surprised at my struggles with change and mortality, issues which I had previously barely even poked at let alone obsessed over. When taken in the context of the other images, those of grief, loss, and unchosen change, it would have made perfect sense to 2019 Tori that 2021 Tori was struggling with these things.

No, what would have shocked me is the “wondering what was wrong with me” part. If I was sitting there looking at an image of my emotional breakdown in the context of the other images from the past year, it would have boggled my mind that I couldn’t see why I was struggling.

And I know it’s not just me. I hear the same words coming from friends and family as well: we can’t understand why we can’t get it together, why we are so darned exhausted all the time. It seems like linear time has been lying to us, letting the fact that these events have unfolded over time make us blind to the full scope and cumulative impact of what we’ve all experienced over the past year. Maybe it’s our coping mechanisms, which haven’t really let us sit with all we’ve been through and experienced and now our bodies are rebelling and we’re confused about why since we’ve had to engage in a fair amount of denial to just to be able to to our jobs.

It could also have something to do with the fact that things are actually looking up a little bit- I know that seems weird, but hear me out. In college, I would come home after finals week and crash. I would sometimes even get physically sick and inevitably, I would cry (because crying is how I process emotion and since I haven’t grown out of it yet, I doubt I will). It was like I had pushed myself through what had to be done, did what I had to do, and then when it was finally over, I truly could let down and deal with all of the stress and tension I had walked through during the term at school and, especially, during final exams.

Spring is peeking out in more ways than one right now. Vaccinations have started (I’ve had both shots and am days from reaching full immunity), here in Oregon schools are re-opening and sports are resuming, we are starting to think about things like seeing family members and planning vacations, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. In our family, my husband just got a job offer, five months after being laid off from the company where he’d worked for 14 years and planned to retire from. We are starting to let down and I think the post-finals crash is in full effect.

The trauma isn’t over, not by a long shot. Just got a message from a friend who is trying to negotiate school re-opening as an administrator in a district that is not handling the process well and I could hear the burden in her voice. My kids are enjoying their return to school, but the masks and distancing will inevitably get old and the honeymoon will end in spectacular fashion, leaving me to hoist them on my back once again and carry them through. And people are still dying, the political tension and polarization continues, our personal losses and struggles remain…and we are exhausted.

I wish this was the part of the post where I gave you answers to all of this, but unfortunately I have none. The purpose of this post is not to tell you how to handle it all, but to encourage you to go easy on yourself and take heart because there is a reason you feel like this. Dozens of reasons, actually. Also, I want to encourage you to take care of yourself. Drink fluids, move your body every day (which is so hard when you’re exhausted), find something light to watch on TV (I highly recommend the Great British Baking Show), eat something even when you don’t feel like it (almonds and jerky are high in protein), and don’t take yourself too seriously if you can help it.

And reach out. To a friend, family member, TO YOUR DOCTOR. Counseling, meds, whatever it takes to get you through this, do it.

And, for the moment, let’s spend some time with God. Because He sees each of us, knows us better than we know ourselves, and wants to minister to our hearts and heal us right now.

Find a comfortable place to sit, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. Picture yourself exhaling the grief, tension, anxiety, and toxic fumes of the world and breathing in the sweet, peaceful perfume of the Kingdom of God. World air out, Kingdom air in.

1 Peter 5:7 says “Cast your cares on Him, for He cares for you.” That is both deep truth and holy invitation. God is the best listening ear you can imagine, strong enough to carry your burdens and powerful enough to help you with them. So take a minute and just unload on the Father who loves you. Tell Him everything you’re feeling, your fears, your hopes, even your anger- ESPECIALLY if you’re angry with Him. I know that sounds weird, but this is a relationship and He wants to talk through it with you, He can handle it. Ask Him to draw your heart and mind to anything you may be missing, any burdens you may be carrying and pain you may be feeling that you haven’t recognized yet. And let yourself just sit with it all, sit in His presence, knowing you’re not alone with this- you are NEVER alone. Open your heart and make room for Him to respond to you…this is easier said than done and I don’t have a magic formula, but know that it gets easier the more you do it. The more chances you give Him to speak, the more attuned you’ll become to the way He speaks to you- just to YOU, in His own special just-for-you way- so if you don’t hear or feel anything right now, take heart. Just opening the door is enough for now.

These next moment are for you and God, the two of you together in ways that I can’t speak to because they’ll be just for you and Him. It may be powerful, it may be peaceful, and it may not feel like much of anything- and that’s ok. When you’re ready, move into the rest of your day with these words in your heart:

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

In those words is a reassurance that trouble is normal. The presence of trouble in our lives doesn’t mean we are doing it wrong, Jesus promised we would have trouble. But there’s a promise that He can overcome it. I don’t know what that looks like right now. I’ve watched Him overcome my troubles in the past but I haven’t seen yet how He’s going to overcome the ones I’m worried about right now. At the deepest and very most basic, it’s the assurance of heaven, so I’m holding on to that.

Jesus says that he leaves us his peace, but I leave you this meme. Seems a fitting end to this particular diatribe. I love you, friends.

Posted in Uncategorized

Three Self-Care Tips (From a Mom Who Sucks At It)

I’ve heard it said that sometimes, people who have been very bad at things can actually be the very BEST people to teach about those things. Wisdom born of struggle, they say, is often deeper than wisdom born of ease.  I’m counting on that to be true because I’m about to talk to y’all about self care.

I am a proud possessor of a first-class ticket on the Self-Care Struggle Bus.  I have always had a pretty healthy (or UNHEALTHY) workhorse complex. I was that way even before I had kids, so when my son was born and I quit my job to stay home with him, it reached critical mass. I always felt like I had to be somewhere doing something for someone, not letting anyone down or missing anyone’s need and yes, proving my worth.  

But that, my friends, is a recipe for disaster. I became exhausted, impatient, resentful and was NOT even enjoying this motherhood thing that I had waited my whole life to do. So, I reluctantly (after a scolding or two from my own mother) conceded that “self-care” needed to actually be a thing for me. So embarked on a journey that would require me to get better at doing something I that had a lifelong pattern of proudly sucking at. And I’m still not great at it, work in progress is an understatement.  But, here are a few things I have learned along the way that are CRUCIAL if we ever hope to be successful at taking better care of our minds, bodies, and spirits.

  1. You’ve gotta treat it as a need and not a want.  It is a stone cold fact that when we are depleted, our mom game slips.  Our kids love and need us so deeply. Our smiles, our laughter, our hugs, our grace when they make a mistake- and all of those things are in short supply when our own cups are empty.  They might even worry about us- it’s heavy as heck to for me as an adult to worry about my parents, I cannot imagine carrying that burden as a child. Self-care is not a self-indulgent frivolity, it is a RESPONSIBLE act of motherhood.  Taking care of our babies’ mommies is one of the very most important things we can do for them. When we make that thinking shift (which is TRUTH, by the way. We are not just spin doctoring here), the work of making it a priority becomes a whole lot easier. 

  2. You may have to kiss a few frogs before you find your jam. Trying new things can pay GREAT dividends when establishing a self-care routine. I mean, some people know exactly what things they can do to fill their cup, but I am not those people. Also, we might THINK we know what our “thing” is, but there are actually others out there just waiting for us to stumble on to them.   Prime example: You wanna know what my thing is right now that relaxes and strengthens me? CROCHETING! I know, right? I’m not the least bit crafty and have tried and failed at it before, but I tried it again, stuck with it, and now it’s soothing and contenting and I can even do it when I’m with my kids. Who knew? Here are some ideas of things to try (and try it a few times before you toss it out, the first few times of doing things are awkward anyway)
  • Exercise
  • Reading
  • Crafts (YOUTUBE, people. It’s how I learned to crochet)
  • Walking outside in nature
  • Napping
  • Gardening
  • Eating healthy foods
  • Drinking enough water
  • Spiritual practices 
  • Listening to music

Note: it’s also important to recognize the things that may masquerade as self-care, but are really deepening the pits of despair in our lives  Examples include: Scrolling through social media and comparing ourselves to everyone else, spending money we don’t have on stuff that isn’t really going to fill us up, spending time with “friends” who actually make us feel really terrible about ourselves, binging on drugs, alcohol, food, etc.  Identifying the unhealthy things in our lives and finding better ways of doing and being is CRITICAL for this journey

3. Make. Yourself. Do it.  “I mean, I’m having an OK day. I don’t need to take time for myself.  Plus, I just don’t FEEL like going to the gym. I really need to do one more load of laundry, I just don’t have TIME to sit and read…”  NO! STOP! NOT TODAY, SATAN! You guys, we have got to MAKE ourselves do the things that feed our souls. We are taking care of our kids’ moms here. Also, we will find that the people in our lives will be perfectly happy letting us NOT do these things.  I mean, we can *maybe* count on our partners (if we have them) to recognize when we need a break, but our kids will just keep taking and taking as long as we keep giving. Most of the time, we will need to draw these boundary lines for ourselves and MAKE OURSELVES take the time because nobody’s going to do it for us. When that’s a struggle, re-read bullet point number one.  Also, I’m skipping the gym today. And yesterday. I’m still not good at this, but I’m trying. Which brings me to my next point, a bonus point…

4.  (Yes, I added another one)  Give yourself grace. In this, and in all things.  Giving ourselves grace as we do the crucial and at times uncomfortable work of establishing self-care patterns and routines is important.  Giving ourselves grace is also PART of self-care- perhaps the single most important part. We moms need to stop being so critical of ourselves, especially since this work we are doing is so danged hard.  When we see our kids doing new things, difficult things, BIG things, we are quick encourage them, pick them up as they fall, and cheer them on. We need to turn that same lens on ourselves and each other. 

So there you have it. My top 3 (plus a bonus) discoveries on my still in-progress journey toward doing a better job of caring for my mind, body, and spirit amid the mess and chaos of motherhood. I’d love to hear more about your own journey with self-care. What do you struggle with the most?  What has worked for you?  Any tips to share?

Posted in Faith

Daft Punk, Pharell Williams, and God With Us

Sometimes, God shows up in the form of Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams.

I mean, maybe not. But hear me out, here.

God has been doing A LOT of work with me this summer in the area of…well, a lot of areas. But they all kind of point to the same thing:  my worth to Him is not tied up in my job performance, I’m not only as valuable as the Important Things I Do For the Kingdom.

I matter to Him because I matter to Him, and He goes with me everywhere- even in the things that I don’t feel are, like, super important Kingdom Work.

Like dress shopping.

I walked into Nordstrom Rack this weekend with knot of dread in the pit of my stomach because I could make you a list a mile long of ways that 41 is better than 21 and dress shopping would not be on that list.  Just, ew.

The automatic doors slid open for me, I walked through them and surveyed the landscape of what would be my own personal gauntlet for the next however long it took me to accomplish the task at hand. I couldn’t see my own face but I imagine I was sporting a lip curl marking both disdain and misgivings.

But then, I was instantly snapped from my self-pity by what I thought I recognized as a familiar combination of rhythm guitar and falsetto croon emanating from the tinny speakers in the store’s ceiling. “Whaaaaaaaaaaaat?” I thought to myself, sounding in my head very much like Li’l Wayne pouring champagne on a Samsung Galaxy in that one commercial.  “I mean, this sure sounds like Daft Punk and Pharrell but sure they are not playing that in Nordstrom Ra- why, I’ll be. The sure as heck are….”

Nordstrom Rack feels like more of a Taylor Swift/Ed Sheeran scene than a Daft and Pharell scene.  But there they were, soothing my eardrums and threatening to make me lose myself to dance right next to the Max Studio blazers (which I got one, by the way.  Huge sale, super cute).  And I knew right then in that moment that it was all going to be OK.

It was like God was reminding me, through the insertion of my jammy jam into a most unexpected environment, that me going dress shopping mattered to Him.  It’s not that the dress itself was important- although it could be, God can use absolutely anything to move mountains (as evidenced by the way this most secular of musical pieces moved my heart to remember Him). It mattered because I was doing it and I matter to Him.  He was with me because He is always with me, lovingly holding even the minutiae of my life in His tender and all-powerful care, because that’s who He is and what He does for those He has created and called (that’s me and you, by the way. Even if you haven’t heard Him calling, that doesn’t mean He’s not calling).

So remember that today, as you go about doing whatever it is that you happen to be going about doing.  He’s with you because He loves you. The things you are doing matter to Him because you matter to Him.  It doesn’t have to feel like Super Important Kingdom Work or one giant leap toward His Great Purpose for You. He made you just as you are and He delights in You. You are precious to Him.  And whether you are serving the poor, weeding your yard (blech), or shopping for shoes or dresses or what have you, He is with you because YOU MATTER TO HIM. And now, jam out to some Daft Punk.

Posted in Faith

Making Room for God

6:38 am on Monday. The Dude, my almost seven-year-old early riser, is out of bed, dressed, and clunking distractedly through his morning routine. The Superhero Princess, four-and-a-half, is still sleeping in her room and I will not dare wake her until about one minute before we have to leave to take her brother to school. Not a morning person myself (The Dude gets that from his father), I groggily set a piece of toast and a banana on the kitchen island in front of The Dude and shuffle on slipper-clad feet back into the living room.

On the way, I try not to trip over the shoes, coats, and backpacks randomly strewn throughout the entryway, in desperate need of some organization. I heave a deep sigh as I plod past our dining room table, piled high with the remnants of yesterday’s car clean-out, begging to be sorted. On the adjacent sectional sofa sit three piles of laundry my husband had “done” the previous day and left for me to sort and fold. The demands are calling. The expectations are pressing in. The hustle that this day, and every day, requires is beginning anew.

But before I tackle any of it, I make my way over to the aforementioned easy chair with a cup of tea and pull a blanket onto my lap. I close my eyes, take a deep breath, let it out, and then…I just sit. I breathe in, I breathe out, I whisper a word or two of prayer or scripture to help my wandering mind focus, and I just sit. I don’t pick up my devotional, I don’t open my Bible, I don’t even put words to my prayers yet, except maybe to tell God, “Good morning.” I use these very first moments I have to myself this day to cultivate stillness and make room for God.

Read more of this post on the Kindred Mom Blog

Posted in Faith, Foundation 2019

God Has No Prerequisites

I went to college back in the days before online registration.   This was the era when email, the Backstreet Boys, Zima, and body glitter, were the hottest new things on the scene.  And in those days, you had to call in from an actual landline phone in your dorm room to register for classes.

Note: I’d like to give a special nod to anyone reading this who remembers the days before you could even call in to register.  You are warriors.

A week or so before the registration period we would pick up thick course catalogues and spend the next few days highlighting which classes we needed to take, which “sections” (aka dates and times) we preferred, and what our backups would be if our first choices were full.  Then, at a time divinely appointed to each of us (aka assigned alphabetically by the Office of the Registrar), we would call into an automated system and follow the prompts to choose our courses.  I remember waiting with baited breath on the other end of that phone line to hear the blessed words, “ED 211 is available.” And heaven forbid you punched in your numbers wrong, then you had to start all over.

In the days leading up to and following registration, I would pore through the catalogues much more thoroughly than was probably necessary.  I’ve always been curious about what life is like for people who have taken different paths than I have, and the Oregon State University course catalogue gave me a small window into other students’ lives.  A vocal music and elementary education major myself,  I would often flip through the sections for other areas of study, particularly science and math-heavy areas like physics, biology, or engineering.  Since it was all sooooo far out of my comfort zone and what I perceived to be my capabilities, I found it utterly fascinating.  In fact, a decade later I married a guy who had actually been a chemical engineering major at the same college at the same time. I wonder if I ever browsed descriptions of the courses he had to take. How romantic..

What fascinated me the most about these course descriptions were the prerequisites , or “prereqs” (pronounced pre-wrecks) listed below the course descriptions.  These were the  classes that one had to have completed before one would even be allowed to enroll in the course being described.  In order to take some of the 300 and 400-level science classes, you had to have taken a lot of other science classes, and don’t even get me started on the math.  Some of them even had grades associated with it. Not only did you have to have completed differential calculus, you had to have gotten at least an 80% in the course.  Lord, have mercy.

Do you see that right there? That’s what I’m taking about!!!! Fun fact:  my husband actually took this course as an undergraduate.

I admired the folks who were “smart enough” to hack it in these fields, to have taken all of the advanced calculus and organic chemistry and whatnot, perhaps that’s why I eventually married one of them. But I never got as far as trying it for myself.  I would inevitably drop the dogeared tome in the recycle bin (in Oregon we were already recycling in the 90’s), and blissfully turn my attention to whatever child development or music history courses my “right-brained” self would be partaking in the next term.

It seems like many of us take a similar approach to our faith journeys.  We are curious about God, interested in deepening our faith, perhaps even admiring of others’ relationships with Jesus. We feel a tug on our hearts to get closer to Him- and why wouldn’t we?  Connection with God is what we were created for.  As Martin Laird puts it, “God is our homeland. And the homing beacon of the human being is homed on God.”  Continue reading “God Has No Prerequisites”

Posted in Faith, Foundation 2019

How to Make it Snow (Psalm 37:4)

Take delight in the lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.
-Psalm 37:4

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
-Matthew 6:21


Here in Portland, OR, snow is a novelty.  We are a snow-loving family and so when we see even a 10% chance of the white stuff in the forecast, we get excited.  We engage in all sorts of ridiculous shenanigans trying to magically get snow to materialize. Like many other families, we flush ice cubes down the toilet and wear our jammies inside out. My husband swears that not remembering to get the snow tires put on the car is a surefire way to ensure it snows (but of course, he does it anyway because he’s The Daddy and that’s now he rolls). My daughter insists that she can channel Queen Elsa and make snow and ice appear with just a stomp of her foot. My would-be Jedi Padawan believes he can use The Force to choke the snow right out of the clouds.  Personally, I have learned that it’s more likely to snow if I’m not expecting it, so I try not to expect (which is a bit of an oxymoron, but whatever). In any case, we will try everything in our power to make the snow we so hope for materialize.

It’s tempting to take this same approach to Psalm 37, verse 4, which says, “Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  At first glance, that scripture can make it seem as if taking delight in the Lord is the spiritual equivalent of flushing ice cubes down the toilet. If we delight ourselves in God, then we can get what we want, as if Godly delight-taking somehow magically moves the heart of God to see things our way.

Now, there is probably a kernel of truth in that approach.  Scripture teaches us that prayer and praise can move the heart of God.  For example, the Old Testament tells about several times when Moses changed God’s mind and kept Him from wiping out tribes upon tribes of Israelites in His Holy fury at their disobedience. God is, after all, a loving father and friend and as in any relationship, our conversations, interactions, and feelings matter to one another and can hold sway on the way things unfold.

However, if we stop there, believing the only thing at play here is the need to say a few flattering words to or about God in order to get on His Most High Holy Good Side, boy we are missing out.  Not only we will end up staring out the window with our jammies on inside out wondering why it’s not snowing, but we will miss out on massive amounts of grace and blessings that are waiting for us. Continue reading “How to Make it Snow (Psalm 37:4)”

Posted in Faith, Foundation 2019

Shutting Down the “Shouldstorm”


This post is part of my Foundation 2019 series.  Read why I chose “Foundation” as my word for the year here.

I live much of my life right smack dab in the middle of what I call a “Shouldstorm.”

I sit here as I type this staring at a pile of unfolded laundry, not even showered yet, with a to-do list a mile long and only about 45 minutes before I have to pick up my daughter from preschool and the winds are starting to kick up. “You should be folding that laundry- matter fact, you should have folded it right away, it shouldn’t even be sitting there.  And while you’re at it, you should walk right past those laundry machines and organize the storage area. And you haven’t worked out in awhile, you should be doing a better job of working that into your life because you should be back your pre-babies weight by now…”

It always feels like there are a million things I should be doing at any given moment.  The ones I’m neglecting needle and nag me, I barely have the time and bandwidth for the ones I am doing, and let’s not even discuss the things I probably should be doing that I don’t even know about. It’s a veritable maelstrom of “shoulds,” so I call it a “shouldstorm.” Note: if you  happen to hear in the term “should-storm” a striking auditory similarity to another “stormy” term that features a more colorful sh-word (aka “sh*tstorm”), I assure you that it’s not even a little bit coincidental. 

I’d like to be able to to say that it began when I became a mom, and motherhood has definitely ramped the storm it up to a category 5 hurricane.  But if I’m honest with myself, it’s always been like this for me.  Ever since my teen years, I’ve struggled with the feeling that there’s something else or something more I should be doing, some other way I should be- It’s like FOMO (fear of missing out) and FONBE (fear of not being enough) all rolled into one. Continue reading “Shutting Down the “Shouldstorm””

Posted in Faith, Foundation 2019

Noah-Level Communication

This post is part of my Foundation 2019 series.  Read why I chose “Foundation” as my word for the year here.


In 2019, I’m doing the Bible in One Year reading plan in the YouVersion app.  I think it’s absolutely the greatest thing ever for two reasons:

  1. They’ve got it all planned out for you and locked and loaded with an AUDIO OPTION. All I have to do is plug-in my headphones and press “play” and the daily devotion teaching and the assigned passages of scripture play back to back to back right into my ears and I don’t have to do a thing.
  2. The devotions are done by Nicky Gumbel and his wife, Pippa, and they are absolutely delightful. I first encountered him when I did the Alpha Course years ago at the Episcopal church I was attending in Lakewood, WA and he is quite possibly the Britishest dude ever.  He used to work as a “barrister” before becoming a “vicar” and I just love listening to every gracious word he says.  I’m getting so, so much out of his and Pippa’s insights, possibly more than I’ve ever gotten out of any other plan or study.

One dark, frosty morning in very early January, my husband and I headed out before the sun was even up to drop our car off at the dealership to see if they could finally figure out what is making that infernal squeaking noise in the heating system.  On the drive there, I listened to the daily readings, which included the story of Noah in Genesis.

God seems to dole out Scriptural insights to me incrementally, giving me a little more and a little more each time I listen to or read a passage.  This time, the thing that stuck out to me was the end of Noah’s time on the Ark, when he was trying to figure out when the time was right to get off of the boat.

I don’t know about you, but if I had been trapped on a boat with my entire extended family and a bunch of animals for weeks upon weeks, I would be getting off that boat at the very first sign of land and never looking back.

Not Noah.

First, he sent a raven.  Then he waited. Then he sent a dove. Then he waited. Then, he sent the dove again. Then he waited some more.

And not until the time was very perfectly exactly right, when the water had not only receded but the earth had sufficiently dried out, only then did he finally disembARK (see what I did there?).

What struck me about this was not so much Noah’s patience, although that is some remarkably significant patience being demonstrated right there, but the level of communication Noah has to have had with God- not only during the process of figuring out when to get off the boat, but through the whole entire saga. Continue reading “Noah-Level Communication”

Posted in Faith, Foundation 2019

Getting Over My Scripture Inferiority Complex (Foundation 2019)

This post is part of my Foundation 2019 series.  Read why I chose “Foundation” as my word for the year here.

For the longest time, I had a serious inferiority complex when it came to my knowledge of Scripture and I felt like I didn’t know how to study it “the right way.”

Even though I’ve been a Christian since I was 8 years old, I didn’t grow up going to youth groups and church camps. I went to a public university and didn’t participate in any campus ministry (unless beer-fueled theology debates with non-believing fraternity guys count, in which case I retract my statement because I totally did that).

I operated with this image that other Christians my age had been through all this indoctrination that I hadn’t (and did not care to, by the way, but that’s a whole ‘nother story),  in the process steeping and marinating in scripture and theology, giving them a knowledge that I wasn’t anywhere near having. I pictured them atop this pedestal of piety high above little old me- and I’m quite certain a few of them had the same image, I might add.

Honestly, I wasn’t entirely wrong. Many other Christians my age were indeed attending Bible colleges, involved in campus ministry, running those same youth groups I had never even attended, and they undoubtedly knew way more about Scripture than I did.  I mean…it wouldn’t even have been hard to know more about Scripture than I did at that point.

What I was very much drop-dead, stone-cold wrong about was the inferiority complex it gave me and how I let it keep me from even beginning to study Scripture.  For years, those insecurities and feelings of “not-enough-ness” stood between me and getting into God’s word.

When I tried to go to a Bible study and saw the woman next to me open a Bible filled with highlighted passages and margin notes, I looked at my own unmarked Bible and saw failure.

When I dove into difficult passages and struggled to connect with and understand what I was reading, my insecurity told me I must be doing it wrong.  Wasn’t I supposed to be finding God-breathed epiphanies on EVERY SINGLE PAGE?  I’m sure *insert person who I thought was better at the Bible than I was here* does every single time. Sigh…

And so, I would quit.  Nobody wants to keep showing up for something that just reminds them how sucky they are every time.  It’s why I avoid spin class.

But, here’s the thing: insecurity and feelings of not being enough come from where, class?  That’s right, the answer is “Satan.”  Say it with me, “The feeling of not being enough always comes from Satan.”  

What an absolutely perfect plan for keeping folks from getting into the Word of God: let’s convince them that it’s too hard, they aren’t smart enough, it’s too late, other people know more than they do, etc., etc.  It’s a double whammy of separating them from GOD and making them feel horrible about themselves. Well played, Devil.  Well played.

And yes, indeed. I let the enemy of my soul successfully stand between me and the Word of God FOR!  YEARS!


A knowledge and pursuit of Scripture is an inextricable part of the Foundation on which my life needs to be built. It’s a key ingredient in the mixture of concrete that my proverbial house is built on- without it, my life could crumble at the slightest bit of resistance.

So this year, pulling on my proverbial Big Girl Britches, getting over myself, and telling the Enemy that he can absolutely suck it, the truth I will find in the Word of God will shout down his lies once I get into it anyway so I might as well just ignore them.

The truth is that any study and/or reading of Scripture is good. There are tons of different ways to do it and we shouldn’t let this idea of “good enough” vs. “not good enough” stop us.  Yes, there are ways that have proven to be effective for generations. There is new and “cutting edge” stuff that is just now available to us, like listening via apps on our phones and watching YouTube videos unpacking the text. As we get into the process, we will find that some methods work better than others for us based on the way God has each of us wired and what phase of life we find ourselves in.

But any effort we give it, any choice we make to devote our time and attention to the study of God’s Word is the right thing to do.  It’s holy, sacred, and will bear fruit.

Life-changing epiphanies are not necessarily waiting on every page for us, at least not every day, and if we don’t feel moved by the Holy Spirit on a daily basis it doesn’t mean we are failing.  Some days, it’s just the DISCIPLINE of doing the work that matters, it honors God when we power through on the tough days.

We also cannot underestimate the importance of just building our familiarity with Scripture. Every time we read a passage, a chapter, a story, it gets logged our memory bank and helps build a working knowledge of Scripture that God can use.  A friend or pastor may say, “It’s like Joseph and Potiphar’s wife, when he ended up in jail and God redeemed it” and you’re like, “YES!  I READ THAT STORY!” and you can totally get what they’re saying in a way you couldn’t have otherwise.

My word count is quickly mounting, so I think I’ll take my leave here. There is much more to say, much more to share, and there will be time for that in future posts.

But for now, I want to send a huge hug to anyone who has ever felt like I have, like the study of Scripture is intimidating and a little defeating, and encourage you to take a deep breath and take those first brave steps to sending that lie packing.  It is true that Scripture is big and imposing and layered and complex and at times shrouded in all sorts of mystery. But it’s a lie that you can’t study it. It’s a lie that it’s too late to start. It’s a lie that God doesn’t have revelations and truths waiting to reveal to you, just for you, exactly the way He made you.


Posted in Faith, Foundation 2019

FOUNDATION: My Word for 2019

Have you ever done the whole “Word for the Year” thing?  The practice is a variation on the traditional “New Year’s Resolution,’ except rather than choosing a habit or behavior to change, you choose a single word to be your guiding focus for the year.  If you’re really interested in digging into the concept, there’s a woman named Ali Edwards who has turned it into an entire program with courses and resources and whatnot, you can find all that here:

My people on social media, both the influencers I follow and the folks I know personally, are super into the whole thing.  December and January find my feed thick with posts declaring how folks have made the previous year’s word manifest in their lives and sharing what word they’ve got locked and loaded to change the landscape of their lives in year to come.  Some have even gone so far as to get their word tattooed on their actual bodies.

I’ve regarded the practice with a mixture of admiration and skepticism. I’ve even tried my hand at choosing a word the past couple of year, my efforts yielding decidedly tepid results.

This year, it’s different.  This year, I’ve got a word, I’m all about my word, I’m proud of my word, I’m posting on social media about my word, and while I probably won’t get my word tattooed anywhere on my person (you’re welcome, Mom) by the end of this year, I will probably have at least considered it. It felt like that word chose me this year.  It came bubbling up out of the depths of several different things that our loving and patient God has been working me through over the past months and years.

My word is “Foundation.”


And by “Foundation,”  I mean what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 7:24-25:

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.

The Son of God did not stutter or waste words, he picked the words he spoke to us with intent.  In His three decades of walking among us humans here in this fallen world, Jesus had both witnessed and experienced what it’s like to be human. Elsewhere in scripture, he promises us that in this life we will have trouble because he had seen it and lived it.  He knew firsthand exactly how much real life can feel like trying to keep the walls up and the roof on our proverbial houses through an onslaught of rain, floods, and wind.

The slow, soaking rains of illness, financial trouble, anxiety and depression…the shifting, influencing winds of the opinions of others and the value system of the fallen world that does not reflect God’s vision for us…the flash floods where a word or a phone call brings us to our knees…

But with those words, with that metaphor, Jesus promises us that if our foundations are secure, the rain and wind and floods cannot take us down.  He promises that through it all, we will remain secure if we will only build our houses upon the Rock, make Father, Son, and Holy Spirit our Foundation.

He also goes on to say that if your Foundations are not secure in him, you can count on the storms of life being a problem.  Whatever this world throws at us is going to batter us about and could level the house altogether.

Our. Foundation. Is. Everything.

So what else could I possibly focus on in 2019 but my Foundation? Everything else, EVERYTHING else, proceeds from and through that.  A year is a long time, I’m sure God has other plans for me, other things He wants to teach me, other ways He wants me to grow. But in order to do those things, I’m going to need to have a solid Foundation, built on the Rock.

As I prayed and pondered this directive from God to GET MY FOUNDATION SECURE, the work has kind of naturally fallen into three categories for me:

  1. Knowledge and understanding of Scripture.
  2. Prayer and communication practices
  3. God-ordered priorities

That is the three-legged stool, so to speak, I’ll be perching myself on to do the work this year.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be digging into those three concepts here on my blog, sharing a baseline for how I’m beginning to work on each of those things this year.I would love for you to join me on this journey.   I’d appreciate your thoughts and suggestions about what has worked for you when it comes to anchoring your foundation in the Lord.  Also, I’m an extrovert, a people person, I do my best work when I’m traveling with others, so if you feel inclined to make 2019 your Foundation year, I’d love to have you along on this path with me.

I leave you to day with the opening verse to one of the hymns I remember singing growing up:

“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?”