I Am Jonah

I love a good church service; one that makes me look deeply at my own flaws, and at Scripture with fresh eyes.

Sunday was such a day.

We had a guest pastor. A retired senior pastor shared on Jonah, a book I love. I saw myself in the pages. This is not a new thing, but I recognized myself in a new way. Habits. Mistakes. Areas of total lack of generosity.

I am excited! Seeing those things means that I can repent! And with repentance comes hope.

Perhaps part of the reason I could see things clearly is because I am in fairly good spirits. This is a good season of life. I am busy with the things that are important and seeking Him with a renewed zeal. There are times when my introspection is not born of (or with) condemnation, but just flow out of a life walking with Jesus.  Some of the things I learned were review, some were fresh revelations. I LOVE learning about the Bible.

Here were my AHA! moments:

  • Jonah fled from his assignment. Yeah, not new. I do this often. I let fear or finances or exhaustion keep me from what God has assigned. I may not run away from home, but I do sloth my way in the opposite direction of His calling.
  • Jonah was irritated by God’s blessings for those Jonah did not approve of. Well, golly. There I am in the middle of Scripture, yet again. If I were to be completely, vulnerably honest I would have to admit that I kinda don’t want God to bless those on my personal do not bless list. The pastor said, “We all have our pet evil…” Then he pointed out that the answer is ALWAYS love your enemies. Ouch.
  • Jonah’s theology was right but his heart was wrong. This next insight leapt off the page at me! Once God saved Ninevah, Jonah asked God, “Please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.” Jonah decided that only the worst, most extreme thing–ending his life–was an option. BOTH my hubby and I have the tendency to do this. I call it catastrophizing. I have made progress in dealing with this by eliminating ALWAYS and NEVER from the narrative in my head; and by trying to remember that I trust God even when I don’t understand His ways.

I don’t ask for my life to end, but I do tell the story of hard things in a way that predicts the end of ideas, or opportunities, or relationships or dreams. I am Jonah.

I noticed more. In chapter 4, when the Ninevites had repented and God forgave them, Jonah went “out from the city and sat east of it. There he made himself a shelter for himself and sat under it until he could see what would happen in the city.” 

I have often wanted the vantage point to see what happens. Mostly so I can point out where I was right, and judge the people I think are wrong, but whatever my thing, it was not my finest moment. To be fair, I am not as demanding as I once was. I am now more willing not to know answers and details, and am often praying for the wisdom to leave the outcomes to God.

But there is still part of me that is Jonah.


Five Favorites

Five Favorites

love the Bible. I love to study it. I love to be changed by it.

I am linking up today, a day late, with the fantastic (and disciplined) Kelly over at Mrs. Disciple. Really. She is amazing. Today’s Yesterday’s Friday Five was 5 Favorite Bible Stories. I had soooooo intended to get this done yesterday, but then I accidentally took two Tylenol PM’s instead of regular Tylenol, and my afternoon was a little fuzzy.

But Kelly is grace personified, and she won’t mind if I finish today.

So, here I go.

1 Kings Chapter 22. A few years ago I wanted to get to know Elijah and Elisha. We dug into 1 & 2 Kings at Tuesday Night Bible Study. During that time, I “met” Micaiah, son of Imlah.

This section of the Bible is heavily influenced by the evil King Ahab and his notorious wife Jezebel. In   1 Kings 22, Ahab (King of Judah) is partnering with Jehoshaphat (King of Israel) to try to defeat Aram.  Before they go into battle, they ask the prophets if it is wise. ALL of Ahab’s prophets of Baal were celebrating and predicting victory. But Jehoshaphat asked if there may be just one prophet of the Lord to ask.

Ahab’s response to the question is his life’s motto: “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. He is Micaiah, son of Imlah.” 1 Kings 22:8. (Say it in a whiny, petulant “GIVE ME WHAT I WANT” voice. It helps.)

Evil is defined as anything Ahab doesn’t like. Sound familiar?

Micaiah, after being told to just agree with the other prophets, doesn’t. He tells Ahab the truth: not only will he lose, but he will die if he proceeds.

Ahab, true to his character, tells his guards to throw Micaiah into prison, feed him bread and water sparingly, until he (Ahab) returns from battle. As if threatening the prophet with discomfort would change God’s truth…

Micaiah says, “‘If you indeed return safely, the Lord has not spoken by me.’ And he said, ‘Listen all you people.'”

I love this because:

  • God’s truth is not validated by people’s belief. It just is.
  • Those who hear it spoken are marked by it, whether they want to be or not, and should pay attention.
  • He is unflinchingly willing to pay the price for his belief. There is no wailing or gnashing of teeth recorded.

Spoiler alert: Ahab died.

Philippians 4:2-3. In this tiny little passage, “I urge Euodia and Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true companion, I ask you to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers whose names are also in the book of life,” is me.

I am Euodia. Or perhaps I am Syntyche.

I humbly acknowledge that my history is speckled with conflict, often in serving the Lord. Women can be so hard.

And I am a woman.

This little ditty in the New Testament gives me hope because:

  • Conflict happened THEN! WITH PAUL’S PEOPLE!
  • Paul does not take sides or belittle the women. He encourages people to help them be united.
  • Paul edifies and validates them, as women, in service. I believe the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, values women.
  • Their conflict, according to these verses, does not erase them from the book of life. Whew. That’s a good thing for me.

Life is messy, even when the apostle Paul is personally involved.

Numbers Chapter 16. If you were to ask me why, Biblically, I am a complementarian I would not refer immediately to 1 Corinthians or Colossians. I would pour us each a cup of coffee and open the Bible to where it tells us all about Korah’s rebellion.

The Tabernacle had been finished. Each of the twelve tribes of Jacob had been assigned places and responsibilities for God’s house. They had been counted. (Except for the tribe of Levi. God said not to count them.) They were no longer slaves in Egypt, but were also not in the Promised Land.

If you browse the chapter titles from Exodus to Numbers 16, there are some indications all was not going smoothly. “The People Complain”, “The Quail and the Plague”, “The People Rebel”, and “Moses Pleads for the People” just to name a few. Change is hard.

Chapter 16 opens with this: “Now Korah…took action.” Rising up in anger before Moses, complaining that Moses and Aaron gave themselves the “unique right and responsibility to represent the people before God, exalt[ing] themselves.”-John MacArthur.  Korah, as a Levite, already had significant responsibilities in/for/with the Tabernacle, but wanted to be a priest.

Priesthood was designated for the line of Aaron. (Numbers 3:10)

Korah found others who were angry at Moses for other things and incited a revolt, convincing people that God had given the better thing to other people.

Korah’s rebellion did not end well for Korah. He and his compadres were swallowed up by the earth and taken to Sheol.

Uhhhhhh. No thank you.

Do I believe that God has given the better thing to men? Or do I believe that God has given a different thing to men, in order to prevent chaos?

Whenever I begin that conversation in my head…“so and so has something better; God gives these people more,” I try to remember how dissatisfaction and comparison worked out in Numbers Chapter 16. Then I reaffirm my trust in God, remembering that mine is the responsibility to do what He has given me well, and not to worry about what He has given anyone else.

It doesn’t make me less than anyone. It just makes me, me.

Satan bugs me. Several years ago, I went through a very difficult time in ministry. Conflict abounded. I loved how I was serving, but not the person over me in service.

I was learning more than ever and bonding with women as we had real, deep conversations about applying God’s truth to living daily life. But the fiery darts rained down endlessly; I was constantly jumping through hoops in order to maintain a place in ministry.

I hated it.

It was during that time that Luke 31:22-23 was seared into my soul:

Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.

That situation did not end well for me. After I left, it did not go well for the people left behind. Sometimes Satan gets a victory.

That verse reminded me that Jesus was still on my side, and that sifting actually separates the wheat from the chaff. It results in a higher quality substance.

I turned again. I am encouraging my sisters. And Jesus is still on my side.

The 3:16’s. One of these days I will teach a Bible Study on the 3:16’s. John 3:16 is the most widely known Bible verse, but the rest of them are really, really good as well. Genesis 3:16 is pretty key to the whole story, but I am going to focus on Revelation 3:16: “So because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.”

This verse terrifies me in a holy way. I don’t ever want to be lukewarm. It is also followed, in verse 19, by, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.” 

Whenever I am spiritually tepid, I know I need to start with repentance.

I am exceedingly grateful for God’s word and how it is radically revolutionizing my life…these are just 5 ways of the many with the promise of more to come.

A Letter to My Kids: KNOW THIS

Character matters. It just does.

I know the world around us lives differently, and it can feel impossible to find examples of character that are worthy, but it is vital. 

This has been a hard week. Elections, naked people, riots and accusations flourish with momentum that destroy the humanity in us. Don’t let any of it take profit in your life.

You don’t have to sell all that is beautiful in you to the lowest bidder.




Words like character and integrity get bantered about endlessly, but I want you to know specifically what your father and I believe about them, why they count and which is more important.

Character is the essence of who you are. It is your nature. You can change it with hard work, new information, getting some help when needed, and habits.

Integrity is the wholeness of your life. It comes from the same root word that integer, a whole number, comes from. The integrity of a building indicates its complete ability to stand. To live a life of integrity means your life will look the same no matter which angle you examine it from. Some people refer to integrity as a high moral standard, but we believe wholeness fits it better.

Pursue character first.

Adolf Hitler had integrity. He was a maniacal, anti-semitic in public and private. Having integrity if you are evil is not to be admired.

When building character you have our permission and our encouragement to fake it until you make it. Sincerity is over rated. Doing the right thing insincerely beats honestly being a schmuck every time.

You don’t feel like going to church? Go anyway. Good things are often a discipline.

Recently at Bible Study the leader asked about a habit we’re trying. We make gratitude lists as we eat dinner, on 4×6 cards, each person’s thanks in a different color. “How do you keep it from being rote?” she inquired.


Let me tell you the same thing I told her: I couldn’t care less if it is rote. Walk through the drudge if you have to but good habits are immensely better than bad habits. Being grateful, without meaning it, is still more pleasant than genuine griping.

Every time. Not even close.

Let me tell you what I pray for you and your character, so that you will know what I want you to look for in others…

Fail well. I am exhausted of the conversations implying failure is bad. OF COURSE WE WANT TO SUCCEED ALL THE TIME. Who doesn’t? But it is far worse to be so afraid of failing you never try anything worthwhile.

Failure is guaranteed in a life that has value. What do you do with failures? Do you fail the same way at the same thing over and over again? Face it, change and try something new.

Do you take responsibility for your failures? I cannot encourage that enough. I believe it is the fastest way to heal…face it, own it, apologize when appropriate and move on better for the experience.

Think. This is predicated on a willingness to learn. Better yet, a love of learning.

We see this in each of you. It takes different forms…research, grades, learning the basics of life…but all three of you have a tremendous capacity to seek information. Keep at it.

THEN use that information to inform your thoughts and beliefs.

Your dad and I believe that pursuit of knowledge that is true will always lead you back to God. We are not afraid of facts or science or history.

There is this implication sometimes, that to change your opinion is weak. Don’t buy that lie. It is foolish to think we always have all the information there is, and ridiculous to stay cemented in old beliefs in the face of a new reality.

Let me give you a personal example. I am fiercely pro-life. As the presidency bounces back from one party to another, one of the first things usually done is funding for international abortions. My straight-forward mind could not even HANDLE such a thing. WHY WOULD WE FUND ABORTIONS IN OTHER COUNTRIES I would chide.

Then I read Half The Sky and wept. My little brain in my safe little world cannot fathom what other women go through every day. Funding abortions is an over-simplified term for funding women’s health, and if it could stop some of the things I read, it should be done. At very least, it should be talked about in depth with all of the details and ramifications faced directly, before a decision is made.

Aborting a baby that is healthy and growing is not the same thing as helping a woman whose baby has died and is now rotting inside her. But the funding is the same.

So I changed my mind.

Seek beauty. 

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Philippians 4:8

Beauty is all around.





Purposely filling your mind and life with beauty will make you acutely aware of the beauty in others. Adding beauty to others’ lives is always a good thing…think about it. Do you want to make the world around you ugly? Then don’t fill yourself with smutty things. There is no value in it.

Cook good food. Buy flowers. Be funny, which you do so well. Listen to harmonies and melodies and how they complement each other. Go to museums. Appreciate work that others have labored on. Realize that your taste does not equal the best.

Pursue radical humility. Modesty is lacking in our world.

(Where is the State The Obvious prize?)

People don’t need to see every inch of your body. Save SOMETHING for marriage.

But modesty and humility are not just about nakedness and clothing. They are about the everyday acknowledgement of God and others.

I have sat at many-a-Bible-Study and listened to well meaning silver haired women say that if you think you are humble, you have guaranteed you are not humble. I am not sure how helpful that is.

Let me tell you, as your mom, what I think…

It’s okay to work hard and feel like you did well on something. I just want you to frame it, in conversation and perspective, with all the people who helped you to do well. Who taught you that thing? Who believed in you and your cause? How much applause was given along the way? Who did you watch and admire that showed you excellence? Where is God’s hand in your life?

The mere act of acknowledging and appreciating others opens you to humility.

FIGHT ARROGANCE with everything in you, but please don’t confuse that with being a doormat or convincing yourself you aren’t good at anything. Be humble enough to get help when you are lacking and to offer help when you have abundance.

Social media, politics, magazine covers, public schools and reality television can make you feel like character is irrelevant. That feelings and emotions outrank right and wrong. That is malarkey. You know it. Those who make that argument probably know it too, deep down.

Much of the vitriol is actually the bi-product of cognitive dissonance.

For you three, our precious kids, your dad and I want you to pursue character within a relationship with Jesus. Obviously. We have lived that as best we can, incredibly flawed and fallibly, but with enough consistency that you likely know it’s true. But if you search for character demanding Jesus from other people, we believe you will miss out on additional depth and beauty.

Live in a way that points people to the Lord. Live that shoulder to shoulder with people who won’t see it except through you. It makes things interesting.

 And remember always that we love you madly, and overflow with pride whenever we think of you.



Easter: Dead Ahead

Easter: Dead Ahead

I am sitting at the kitchen table, dishes piled in the sink, remnants from last weekend’s birthday party strewn around my world. Over 1100 miles added to the odometer of my car since Monday, as my daughter and I literally drove up and down the state to spend time with gifted therapists.

And as the raindrops splash in their splendor on my driveway, my heart is full.

Full of gratitude. Full of hope. Like the drought parched creeks and reservoirs in my neighborhood, I am soaking in the rain of His provision.

The last several Easters have been seasons of struggle. Aging parents, Alzheimer’s, hospital stays and rehab facilities filled the late winter several years in a row. By the time Easter rolled around my little family was gasping for air.

We didn’t get much out of the Easter Season.

One of those years the kids’ school chose to have spring break NOT in line with the Easter. That turned out to be one of the stupidest things EVER. Let’s NOT do that again, OK?

I am so happy to again be linking up with the spectacularly amazing Kelly over at Mrs.Disciple. Today we are talking about Easter…and what a pleasure to do.

I told my hubby that we were really going to do Easter  this year. Many things are in our favor…Grandpa went to be with Jesus, so there is an area of our world that is naturally simplified. We are kinda figuring things out…and these are FIVE THINGS we will lean into as the season rolls around.

1.) We will celebrate. Because we try to have our faith define our lives, I am super loose with bunnies and eggs. If it makes the season happier, more memorable, and impactful I say GO FOR IT. 

Ryan’s birthday is actually mid-February, but another child in Primary (1/2 combo classes at her school) was having their party the weekend of her birthday, so that was out. I was gone the following weekend, so her party needed to be in March. As it turns out, Easter is also in March this year, so we decided to have an Easter themed party.



We do our parties family-style. We want you to bring siblings and join us for a meal.

“How many drops of food coloring can they add?” parents would ask.

The answer, of course, is, “As many as they’d like.” We chatted about remembering there were lots of kids who were coloring eggs, and limited resources to share. There can be such beauty in freedom.


That one egg was worth saying YES. Isn’t is spectacular?

The kids hunted for eggs in the rain.



And ate ham.


Jesus gathered and lived and loved and celebrated in the weeks leading to His crucifixion. So will we.

2.) We will continue to bring order to our home. The benefit of my creative calm is that kids can run around, make slime, use an excess of dye on their eggs and I enjoy it. The drawback is that my home can be a bit…disastrous.

I am a messy. I struggle and fight and progress but it is just. not. easy. Some of you have no clue what I am talking about because cleaning up is like breathing to you.

Bless you. If I fall off the face of the planet tomorrow, I hope that for my hubby’s next wife.

For now he is stuck happy to be with me, but he does like the house in order. Cleaning up, organizing, simplifying is ALWAYS something I can do to move my life in the right direction.

Before the day’s end the sink will be empty, the laundry will be washing, party supplies organized, and many things thrown away because it is such a small thing to do to make peace. And I will pray as I do it, asking the Lord to make HIMSELF known deeply to my family this season.

3.) We will live life in priority. Here’s my belief: Holidays are life intensified. If my life is out of whack going into a holiday season, the holiday season will be whacky.

Obviously parenting is an all-the-time gig, but this particular calendar is FULL of specific, purposeful investments in our kids. YAF Convention for our middle with a friend, therapies for our peanut, great conversations with our son who is too grown up and too far away.

I bought a new game I think our teen will love. I told my hubby he HAD to play with us. He seems willing…

4.) I will serve at church. If I were to be honest, (shocking, I know) part of our struggle for those few years was that we didn’t really care for our church’s Easter Service. It was big and outside and it drizzled, or was cold, or was hot and just… Aaaargh.

So we sometimes went to a church that was not ours for Easter, which was fine.

But I actually don’t want an Easter that is fine.

A year and a half ago, we moved churches so that our middle daughter could attend youth group with the same kids she went to school with. It was a fabulous decision for our family, and opens the door to a different Easter experience. This year, the church wants to go all out and create a wonderful, fun-filled, Gospel-centered service, and I signed up to help.

5.) I will fill my brain with the Easter story. Years ago I taught a Bible Study that looked at the Easter story through the eyes of the Gospel writers. I wanted to examine how their personalities may have shaped their perspectives.

Want medical details? Read the book of Luke.

Want names of the people involved? Read the book of John.

What did they all include? Which details were individual?

I want to go back and re-look at that. Honestly, the Bible Study class I led was one of my least successful ever, but I still think the idea is incredibly interesting…and my Bible digging in is in bit of a dry spell. (Do you have any idea HOW MANY women’s Bible Studies you can sit through without ever opening your Bible? The piercing scream you hear in the distance is me…)

The rain continues to pound on the kitchen skylight. The weeds that were once my beautiful lawn until the water ran out will be an inch taller next week, but I don’t care. The rain is water for the land, and the Easter season is water to my soul. I just need to drink it in.