I Don’t Always Want to Obey God.

I love craft fairs. So much. So, SO much. My hands can do a whole gaggle of things, but what they can’t do is put together barn wood, paint, and burlap to creatively innovate something people want to pay money for. Others do the creating and I do the buying. It’s a beautiful partnership.

Three years ago, I found myself at my daughter’s volleyball game, sitting beside two mothers. We’d known each other for years, since our daughters had tentatively walked into the same kindergarten classroom and formed a friendship. Over school events and birthday parties, I formed a friendship with these two ladies too, one borne from both proximity and affection. Volleyball games were some of our most treasured times of the school year. Since volleyball season began as autumn was tip-toeing into the air and Husker football was kicking off, we’d throw on red, bulky sweatshirts and stumble into the gym with large coffees to cradle our sleepiness in the chill of those early Saturday mornings. We’d plop onto chairs, side by side, and shout affirmations at our daughters as the games played on, while also discussing life – our other children, our jobs and our dreams. After the games concluded, these ladies and I would load kids in our cars and spill into a restaurant for brunch. Over pancakes and omelets and more coffee, conversation would continue. It wasn’t a perfect union. We didn’t always agree. Sometimes we’d say or do something that offended another. After the volleyball season concluded, we could end up with a snap of silence that lasted a long time before communication was established again. But it always happened that volleyball would come back around and we’d find ourselves seated next to one another. So that day, three years ago, cushioned in between the whistle blows from the referee and our frequent clapping, one of us – I’m unsure who – wondered aloud why the school had never hosted a craft fair. Since I held a delight for craft fairs in general and liked the chance to hang with these ladies more, it seemed like a fabulous idea. And a new event was born.

At the time, I had just crawled my way out of utter despair. Still covered in the soot and rubble from the life that had come crashing to my family’s feet in the wake of a nightmare, we were in the midst of rebuilding, brick by brick, when volleyball season rolled around again. I was grateful for the routine. Thankful for the welcome of familiar faces. The devastation we had walked through left me shaky and on edge, wondering if it’s presence in the book of my life would derail the ministry work I did, or leave a stain on our lives, one we could never overcome. I’m a recovering people pleaser. I’ve spent more of my years than not performing for the audience in a shallow attempt to receive the applause. Somewhere along the way I had picked up that the shouts of glory and ‘Bravo!’ meant that I was proven. It was validation in the same sense that a snort of cocaine is just a momentary hit; it never lasts long before another is needed to satisfy.  The enemy baits some people to stumble through addiction or adultery; his target with me has always been approval. A deep down part of me, the one who always wanted that approval and needed inclusion, longed to be reaffirmed in the aftermath of that summer struggle in 2015.

That I was okay.

That I would rally.

That I would be restored completely.

I didn’t see it then, but now I know how the subconscious part of me locked onto that craft fair idea with ferocity. I knew immediately it would be a hit. And I knew that a successful craft fair for the school also meant a stamp of approval for me. So I pushed aside the voice I heard whispering to me and forged ahead. As we planned away, my Father in Heaven asked me to step aside from the event, knowing full well that I was about to hit a wall. That the heavy weight of healing would cause my shoulders to sag and my knees to buckle. He tried in vain to clear my plate as I kept piling it higher and higher. He gave me clear direction to scale back when I whined about my weariness from all the things. When I outright complained, my good Father tried to redirect my path time and time again. During those same months, He also made major progress in other areas. He kept chipping away at the broken parts and sculpted them into something beautiful. My need to please became less and less. My voice became more confident and sure when I saw clearly who I am in the arms of the King of Kings. My eyes squinted through the fog to see the ministry He laid out before me, sharpening my calling. My giftings became more pure and refined. My stance became more upright when I understood I could stand in the face of spiritual attack, even the worst possible kind, meant to obliterate. My ears started to hear His voice distinctly and we spoke in a language meant just for me and Him. It all happened in the midst of my disobedience. He does that all the time. Raises us up and makes us better, even as we behave in ways that undermine His efforts. He’s so good, y’all.

Every time I met with the craft fair committee (that’s a fancy schmancy word for me and these two friends), I felt a check in my spirit. I’d sit in the chair and squirm, knowing I wasn’t welcome there. It wasn’t my friends that were being inhospitable. They welcomed me warmly, complimenting my efforts to advertise on the radio or secure vendors. No, I wasn’t welcome because the disobedience was thick, flying directly in the face of what Father had asked of me. He had already laid out a ministry path for me to follow. He rolled out the red carpet and told me to walk forth. But I wanted to stop along the way, deviating to do this or that, stepping off the carpet for a moment or two as the attraction of something new and flashy caught my eye. All this goodness waited at the end for me, but I couldn’t take my eyes off my want.

How could He really want me to pass up something that I enjoyed so much, something so good, something that was about to raise a whole mass of money for my daughter’s small private school?? But friends, my God asks us to give up good stuff all the time. He asked Abraham to sacrifice his promised son, Isaac. He asked Mary to release her beloved son, the one who’s surprise appearance in her womb nearly cost her a husband and her dignity, to the whole world. He asked that same Son to give up His life to save the world from themselves. And they all said yes to God’s requests. The yes, the obedience is what led to the blessings that came afterward. Can you imagine what our lives would look like if we traded all our no’s for a yes that was immediate and perpetual?

That little craft fair idea went on to be a smashing success. We raised dollars by the thousands for the band program, and brought people into the church building by the hundreds. It convinced me that I had surely heard the Lord wrong. So I signed on for another year and that check in my spirit came floating up in me again. Another year, same scenario and still I forged ahead out of my own faulty strength. Can you believe that? I heard clear as day from my Father in Heaven, the creator of all who saw fit to bend down and speak to me, and I ignored it completely. For two years. Told Him no. Stomped my feet and plugged my ears while I shook my head to drown out the words. I wanted what I wanted, even if it blocked my need. Our bodies can grow older, but sometimes our minds can stay stuck at seven years old, friends.

The second craft fair was just as successful as the first. More so, actually. I praise God for that, because He granted favor to something I put my hands on, despite His instruction to take myself elsewhere. But my heart was folding under the boulder of my disobedience. And because my God knows me completely, inside and out, He decided to speak to me in the only way I could hear it.


‘Honey, you can’t do this anymore. And let me tell you why. Because it’s not for you. I’ve already appointed and anointed others to care for it. If you keep butting in, they can’t receive what I have for them, my love. Ask me what I want you to do and I’ll tell you.’


So I did. Through tears and a deep sadness, I asked my Father what I should do and He told me. To resign my role, to have a discussion with the committee, to follow Him. And after I did, the relief that washed over me was sweet and tender. I could feel His delight in my obedience to His will and out the carpet rolled again, beckoning me forward.

In the book of Luke, it’s said we are blessed when we hear the word of God and obey it. It’s that the most beautiful transaction? ‘Hear me, child….and then just do. I’ll take care of the rest.’ When we strip away all the grime and filth from the world we live in, the world that dunks us in lie after lie until we’re gasping for air and it’s hard to see truth, what we’re left with is a gorgeous simplicity that is rooted in love. It’s not chaotic or confusing or tricky. It’s purposeful and caring. It’s the heart of a good father. When I finally took my hands away from my ears and did as He asked, another part of my tarnished heart obtained freedom. I won’t receive that applause this year and that’s okay. I’ll be clapping for my friends instead, just as it should be. My Father will smile with such pride at His little girl, whom He loves so.

God asks us to do hard things. All the time.  Sometimes, the ask is really, really hard, far more than what a craft fair can amount to. But His promise still stands, the one that says He uses all things for our good, and to give us a future, to give us a hope.

The hard ask can be sweet too, friends.


My Lawyer Was Wrong

The leather was cool on my back as I sat in the chair across from him. My lawyer was talking about the case the State of Nebraska was attempting to build against us and as he spoke, I could feel the chill of broken-in leather behind me. In the movies, these scenes are portrayed by zooming in on the speakers lips, and deafening every other sound so that it creates a vacuum where only the words can be heard. In slow-mo. Turns out, it happens that way in real life too.

“In two years’ time, it will be like this never happened. You guys will be fine.” He said.

Two years????? How can he act like two years is so little? My mind raced to comprehend how my family, the one I gripped until my knuckles turned white because I had no expectation of ever receiving such a beautiful gift and certainly didn’t plan to let it go without a fight, could survive the shattering effects of two years’ worth of foster care and the broken court system. He elaborated that a court case could take up to a year. But maybe two years for all the exhausting family court hearings to end. TWO. YEARS. We were just two weeks into the process and every single second felt like agony. The days that used to fly by so quickly, propelled by the busyness of life, now dragged as if held down by heavy boulders. I tried to push them with all my might in the hopes that moving the weight would bring my daughters home faster, but it was to no avail.

In those moments, the life-defining moments that assault your senses and sear into your mind, I had the gift of hyper-awareness for the oddest things. The overhead lights, buzzing like fluorescent lights do. The stacks of white paper near his desk. The frame holding a photo of his sweet grandson on the corner of his stately desk. The smell of the building, layered in years of life and people and activity, stationed in the center of downtown Omaha bustle. And that leather chair molding around my body. My lawyers words echoed in my ears and wrote themselves on the files of my memory. I’m certain God designs us this way. With focus that becomes laser sharp when under duress so that the heavy devastation can be compartmentalized elsewhere in our consciousness. The same way we redirect toddlers away from the candy they have their eyes on, in the hopes of avoiding a melt-down, Father kindly redirects His children on the brink of despair to the most simple of activities.

‘Look at the picture, sweet daughter. Listen to the hum of the air conditioner. Watch the bird sitting on the window ledge. I’ll carry this, I’m strong enough. Just stay with Me.’

This relief from thinking or doing or feeling too much, existing in the barest of minimums and casting everything else aside, is a gift.

Our lawyer had been around the block a few thousand times. He sat there, an L-shaped desk between us,  carrying 50 years worth of law experience. Fifty years. He had spent more time in a court room than I had been alive and he had seen it all. This man had won far more than he had lost. He was full of contrasts. Like steel when it came to the woes of weaving through a legal system so tattered it barely felt viable to even try. He acknowledged how tainted the system was, this profession he knew like the back of his hand, but insisted it was the best one on the planet. When talking of his beloved family, he softened considerably. Family mattered to him. Probably because he witnessed so many torn apart. He was all business, while still being incredibly charming and relational. We still communicate with him occasionally. It’s the oddest relationship, that of a client and legal representative. For a time they are your best friends and biggest defenders, with no prior knowledge of the life you’ve lived before walking into their office. And then just like that, the relationship is no longer needed in its current state. A judge makes a decision, resolution is reached and it’s all over, for better or worse. You talk to them every day, multiple times a day, and then all that’s left is silence.

But he felt certain of our future success. And that our family would remain whole. That we’d continue on with life as if this wretched blip in time was nonexistent.

He was wrong. There were many days following the victory God handed us that felt like a continuation of the torture. Days when we wept with devastation at what we had walked through. Days when we had to stare into the eyes of the daughter who had used words to betray the family that adored her and say ‘No matter what, we love you.’ Nights spent in bed with my back faced towards James because we disagreed on how to put one foot in front of the other, to move forward. Sundays spent in church, sitting just rows away from the families who had become entangled in that wreck of an experience, the very sight of them invoking a crazy mess of emotions. Week after week and month after month of walking through daily life as if everything was okay when it really wasn’t. The longing to make it all go away and return to normal was so strong, but so impossible to attain. There was no denying that we had to heal and it was going to be painful. The only way you can talk yourself into trudging through the heat of fire is by knowing God will go with you. And He did. He really, really did.

So, it wasn’t as if this had never happened. Not by a long shot. June 15th will mark two years and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t remember a moment or flash to an experience from those 76 days.

But our lawyer was also right.

We have remained whole. Despite every rational mindset, the lowest of lows was not enough to destroy, as the enemy had planned. We have succeeded. God has gathered the ashes and sculpted the most stunning of views. Though that time in our family’s story still holds a strong presence in my mind, the things I think about are changing all the time. God mingles a picture of the courtroom with the smell from the rose bushes at Lauritzen Gardens, where I met my daughters once for a supervised visit. He reminds me of long, snuggly hugs with Natalee at Red Robin the very first time I sat at a table with my children and a woman I didn’t know as she observed our interactions and typed on a laptop…..and I smile through tears at the memory. Bad with the good, melancholy with jubilance. My God is trying to help me see the overwhelming exquisite that sits right next to the ugly. One day it might be possible that I see the exquisite of that summer far more often than I see the ugly, if His grace allows it.


Olivia and I just returned from Costa Rica, where God redeemed one of the dreams we lost that heartbreaking summer. My Father did a great work there. He healed the wounds that still had a bit of scabbing over to go. On that 7 acres of tropical land, filled with sweet children who lack families, He flipped my perspective completely. In 2015, when my daughter and I were supposed to head to Costa Rica with a team and serve children in foster care, in a cruel irony, Olivia became a child in foster care. But nestled in the sticky heat and shades of deep green and torrential downpours of rain, was a trade hidden and just waiting to be revealed. God took that ironic twist and didn’t just fulfill a dream. He upgraded it. My daughter, the one God gave me as a surprise, went from being a girl called to caring for foster children….. to being a fostered child herself…. to fulfilling the dream to help with the temporary keeping of children in foster care after all. She fostered God’s love with her focused smiles and gentle touches and tender words, with fiery prayers and a decidedly maternal spirit. She kissed chubby cheeks and induced the belly laughs of little ones still in the wait for their moms and dads. And she could relate to them in a way that many can’t. My daughter knows what they feel in a real, aching way. But she put on a wardrobe of hope and poured out all she had taken in during those 76 days of foster care limbo. And Father took the rubble of my shattered dream, chiseling away to create a lovely team that He asked me to lead. In the Kingdom, the lost become leaders, y’all. With opened palms, that same God who saved me nearly two decades ago handed me the gift of understanding when I glanced across the covered structure where children played in the afternoons. I looked around and saw all the people He had appointed to my team and the way He had pieced them together. Sitting among them was my girl, strengthened by trial but softened by agape love, rocking a baby boy as she tried in vain to keep the heat from engulfing her in perspiration. There she sat with a whole new dream, one she never saw coming, one that couldn’t have been revealed in 2015. In those seven days in Costa Rica, God called out worship pastors and foster parents and prophets. And I got to witness it all. That stunning view wrapped my heart in warmth and pulled scales from my eyes to see things in a whole new way. He gave me the reasons why I can count it all joy. Every single part CAN be joy.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.                      ~James 1:2-4 ESV

My lawyer was wrong. The days of that ugly summer haven’t faded off into the sunset as though they’ve never happened at all. They inflicted scars that are felt in real-time, despite the passing years. And yet.

My God knew all along. That the pain He allowed would come and go, and be raised up into greatness. We trusted Him to exchange our despair for cheer, and He’s been faithful to do it. The heart that once gasped for life gave way to bursting, with crystal clear understanding, and then reveled in joy. That’s what my God does. He makes it all count as joy, every time.

Count the joy, friends-

Crafted with Care.


For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11

I had the honor of guest posting on the Lifegate Women’s blog again this week. Please click here to check it out! Or click here for their Facebook page, where you’ll find lots of amazing posts from a variety of talented ladies!

Be blessed friends,

Jesus Take The Wheel

Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him.
 – Acts 17:27 (MSG)

I had the privilege of guest posting on the Lifegate Women’s blog today! Pop over to there to check it out. Or click here for their Facebook page to view it. There’s a bunch of amazing ladies writing about revelations from the Lord, just waiting to share with you.

Letting Jesus drive,


My Complicated Relationship with Police.

My husband is always running out of gas. All. The. Time. One might assume that it’s because he’s flippant and ignores the fuel gauge that lights up when your car is running on empty. But, see, James is one of the most observant people you’ll ever meet. Did you get a haircut recently? He’ll notice. New pair of shoes? James will mention it. New car? New manicure? Lost some weight? James will see all of those and compliment you. In a sea of unobservant, self-focused, egocentric human beings crawling around the world, my husband is a rare bird. In many ways, James is like a super hero. He can cook like a pro. He can fix anything that breaks. He also knows every facet of the construction industry, because it consumed his every waking moment for so many years…..plumbing, electrical, design, trim, installation, they all come to him with absolute ease. And there’s nothing the guy doesn’t know. You should see James watching Jeopardy. I’ve never seen him lift weights with any regularity, but my husband carries around these gigantic guns and calls them arms. I’m telling you, super hero.

And it’s this mindset of I-can-do-anything that leads me to believe that the gas light gets noticed every single time. He doesn’t miss it. No, I think James sees a gas light in the car and wants to see how far he can go on what few fumes the car has left. It’s a challenge. Every super hero thrives on challenge, y’all.

So it didn’t surprise me when I saw our car sitting on the side of the road the other morning. I drove right past it and didn’t flinch. James had left the house early to take Olivia to a meeting for student council at school. I followed behind him about half an hour later, our youngest daughter in tow. Since our daughters go to the same building where I work, we end up at the same place, just 30 minutes apart. As I passed by the middle school and prepared to make the turn that takes me to Lifegate Church, there it sat. Our little yellow Chevy Aveo. We acquired it a while back from a neighbor as a super cheap, no frills, great-gas-mileage offset to the new Jeep we call our primary vehicle. The perfect second car. So small and inexpensive that you barely notice it’s there, but it comes in handy when you need another set of wheels. So my husband, with those big ‘ole arms, often crams himself into the teeny Aveo to go from here to there. He is often accompanied by other random items: a tool for the odd job, a suitcase if he’s traveling, the gigantic saxophone case if Olivia is with him. All stuffed in there. And there the trusty Aveo sat, in all its sunny yellow and dependable glory, on the side of 156th Street that morning.

I knew immediately it had run out of gas. I called James from the comfort of my fancy schmancy Jeep and skipped right past the greetings: “Ran out of gas again, huh?” Turns out, he was at the gas station with the portable container he always keeps on hand (see, told you it happened a bunch) and I had to head to Bakers to grab snacks for a work meeting. I swung by the gas station and he hopped in the car, so I could drive him two minutes down the road to the Aveo. As I sat there, watching him filling up the tank enough to get the car to start, I saw lights pull up behind me. A sheriff.

It was the first time in almost two years that my heart didn’t jump out of my chest, that my palms didn’t start to sweat. I was doing nothing wrong, just hanging out while we fed fuel to our vehicle. It happens to people all over the world all the time. No big deal. But there was a time when the sight of a police car could bring me to near panic. I’m talking full on anxiety with sharp, choppy breaths pierced by sobs, flushed cheeks and soaked hands gripping the steering wheel. It wasn’t always this way. I’ve spent almost my entire life assuming that the police are my friends. Safe, caring individuals who long to protect and bring justice when necessary. I’m sure that’s true for most officers. I’m a rule follower who rarely finds herself in hot water and I’d never had a reason to assume the police were seeking me out. But that changed on June 15th.

The summer that our daughters spent in foster care began with a phone call and led to a knock on our door. The knock would probably sound innocent enough to any other ears, but to me it sounded ominous. The thuds of the gentleman’s fist on my burnt-red painted door shook the frame of my body and reverberated in my head for weeks to come. At the time, I was sure the walls shook too, but when I look back, I suppose that was only in my head. A knock is just a knock unless it isn’t.

On my front stoop stood two male police officers, middle aged and clean cut. They were polite when we answered the door, our tiny five pound Pomeranian greeting them with a friendly bark, not knowing that these men came bearing a request that caused my stomach to sink. They wanted to question us, all four of us, and asked us to get into their cars. We had no idea at the time that we could refuse. We had no reason to think otherwise. Surely a quick trip downtown for questioning would clear this whole mess up.

The sight of soft chocolate brown hair from Olivia and Natalee’s heads, peeking above the seats of the police car in front of me, as we made our way down Q Street, is seared into my mind’s eye. Those babies of mine, precious gifts I never expected to receive, were traveling in the same car that had held criminals. They saw the bars separating the front from the back, the worn fabric of the seats, the equipment attached to the dashboard, communicating through beeps and blips and short messages. “10-4. Over.” In all my prayers for these daughters, I never once asked for them to have the worldly knowledge they obtained that night in that car. I had prayed for the opposite. I begged for the opposite. But even a mama’s desperate pleas can go unanswered.

Once we arrived for questioning, a different officer stood guard in the TV room, keeping us separated and preventing us from speaking to one another. She was a young female. She chatted kindly without showing too much emotion, but I kept noticing the beads of sweat gathering on her forehead, despite our air conditioned surroundings. Eventually, via casual conversation, she mentioned that she was on ‘desk duty’ with the police force because she was in the midst of chemo treatments for cancer. She couldn’t have been more than 30 years old and knowing her health was poor pricked my rapidly beating heart, even as I sat panicked in that lounge with the tv playing softly. Hearing her confession made me realize her hair was a wig. The sweat came from her inability to self-regulate her temperature. I should have offered to pray for her right then. I have no idea why I didn’t. I regret it.

In the days that followed, the anxiety set in and tried hard to take root. The sight of a police car – the bright blinking lights, the blaring sirens, the blue uniforms – they all brought on an odd form of déjà vu, the memories rotating on a track in my mind. Each time I would approach our home in my car, I’d slow down before turning onto my street. What if a police car was sitting in the driveway, waiting for me? One day stretched into the next, so I worked mostly from home during the day, to avoid the confused glances and questions that would surely come from my sweet co-workers. But there were times when a task had to be done at the building I called my work home. I’d wait until the sun fell underneath the horizon and drive over to work. The building was always oddly quiet and dark, void of the normal bustle it sees in the daylight. Occasionally I’d hear the sound of vacuum cleaners off in the far hallways, but otherwise I was alone at my little desk, working into the night. Since sleep evaded me, the distraction was welcomed. But all the creeping around struck me as so unlike my nature, so out of my ordinary.  Normally an early-to-bed kind of girl and honest to a fault, the shadows in the night soon became my friends.

The problem with nighttime is that it’s also often when crime occurs. Through the large windows of the building as I worked the night away, I’d see the cop cars sweep through our expansive parking lot. Just doing their jobs, watching for break-ins and other unsavory behavior, as they have done for years. But now, with a lawyer preparing a case against me, those cars with the looming black and white markings felt oppressive. Were they looking for me? What if they waited by my car? What if they called me outside? I’m all alone, a woman, in an empty building in the evening. What would I do?

How had this happened? I’m a good girl who follows the rules. How could this have unraveled so far so quickly? I thought of all the times I had sat and watched the tv show Cops with my family. Inevitably, the police would be on the hunt for a suspected criminal and a chase ensues. People try to run but it’s fruitless; between cars and helicopters, the person is always found and arrested. Once detained, the person usually says something like “But officer I didn’t do anything wrong!” All those years I had watched that show and snickered, assuming they were trying to escape punishment. But my predicament made me wonder: if this could happen to me, why not some other innocent? I sat in the stillness of the offices, my trusty space heater running on the floor behind me, and watched those cars with a lump in my throat, sweat dripping down my back and my stomach twisting like a boa constrictor around my other organs. I longed to scream from the anguish, the frustration, the injustice. But fear paralyzed me. When the car turned out of the parking lot and got swallowed up by the darkness, I would put my head down on the coolness of my desk, let the tears fall freely and then get back to work.

The good news is that some things are predictable, even in the chaos of everyday living. Time is one of them. It keeps coming like clockwork, second by second and minute by minute. With time comes the healing over of open wounds, the shiny white scars covering the places that once stung from the swoosh of open air and touch. It’s been nearly two years since the day with that knock on the door. When the knocks happen now, I don’t immediately assume I’m about to be arrested. And when the cop cars pass me by on the road, or even pull up behind me as my husband pumps gas into our little Aveo, I don’t free-fall into panic. For a season in my life, this good girl who has never seen the inside of a jail cell, smoked a cigarette or committed a crime, navigated a complicated relationship with the law. But then I rebounded. Because that’s how Father has designed us. To take the hits that will inevitably come our way, and then bring us up from the depths. Even more than that, He increases honor and comforts us. He restores.

That morning, I watched the sheriff walk back to his car, now confident that we needed no help from him. Just a couple filling up their vehicle with fuel. Nothing to see here, folks. He put on his turn signal, eased his way onto 156th Street in the rush of morning traffic and gave a friendly wave as he passed me. I have no idea what his name is. I don’t know anything about him. But that wave, a run-of-the-mill wave, reminded me that my relationship with police, while once complicated, was now just as it should be. Boring. Painless. Ordinary.


With love,