Falling and Rising

Sometimes life is heavy and confusing, hanging us upside down by our toe nails. That’s alright because God still has His firm grip on His sons and daughters. What if we need to be sifted? What if God graciously uses a situation to show us blindspots of sin? What if our faith needs refining to burn away the dross? Rest assured, the fire will not consume you. It just makes our zeal for Him stronger, stoking the fire in our hearts, for those who belong to our Lord. 

The doubts, hardships and sin battles are not something unique only to us today. Christians since the Fall have engaged in spiritual warfare typically compounded with situations which test our faith. Sometimes circumstances happen outside our control, sometimes we bring the consequences of sin on ourselves. But you are not any less in His eyes during moments of weakness or trials. Think of our great heroes of faith from Scripture. Noah drank too much after God rescued him and his family from the flood; Abraham on a few occasions let his fear overcome him and he lied about Sarah being his wife; Moses got angry with the Israelites and disobeyed God’s command to speak to the rock and bring forth water. He angrily struck the rock instead and took credit for himself. Then there’s “the man after God’s own heart” King David, who sinned in adultery and murder of Uriah. Even Saul, later renamed Paul, was a persecutor of Christians before Jesus changed his life. Paul would later write, “But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Romans 5:20). These men understood God’s discipline and His grace.

So when we fail God is faithful to humble us, show us our sin leading to repentance. Then we get up again. And again. And again. Grace isn’t a license for us to sin, but a declaration that we are no longer condemned (Romans 8:1). This is the wonder of God’s grace to His children. The MacArthur Study Bible states this redeeming work in our struggle with sin combined with pursuing righteousness:

“Believers receive the imputed righteousness of Christ at salvation (justification) . The Holy Spirit works practical righteousness in the believer throughout his lifetime of struggle with sin (sanctification). But only when the struggle is complete will the Christian receive Christ’s righteousness perfected in him when he enters heaven (glorification).

Dear Christian, this is our promise, this is our confident hope. Rest in the finished work of Jesus today.

Grace upon grace,


The Fragrance of Worship

“But thanks be to God, Who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.” -2 Corinthians 2:14


I love the smell of coffee and oven-roasted bacon lingering in the morning, hours after breakfast. It’s an inviting aroma that says ‘Come and stay awhile’. When I was little my grandmother’s home always seemed to have a comforting aroma wafting through the house (usually fresh baked bread from scratch). Fragrances have a way of bringing to mind a memory or a person. They have the power to make us react with delight or a visceral response of disgust.

When I think about our sense of smell and the impact it has, it’s interesting to read in Scripture how Paul uses the metaphor of fragrance (2 Corinthians 2:14-16). Back up even further to the Old Testament and we see the first priests using sacred perfume in the tabernacle (Exodus 30:22-38).  It was not to be replicated for common use. Only priests were given the task of administering the perfumed oil to anoint the Tent of Meeting. Priests were also consecrated with this holy perfume, carrying around a specific fragrance.


Today believer priests are the aroma of Christ. As a Christian my witness is a fragrant offering of who I am in Him. Reflecting the heart of Jesus is my “scent”. It will smell like death to the unbeliever as my Biblical worldview always points to an eternal perspective, emphasizing life after death. It brings them face to face with their own mortality and eternity.

To the fellow Christian my life will be a familiar and welcoming fragrance, heavily perfumed with the glory of God. This is because the true Church is knitted together with the same heart. Jesus makes this our reality. Even though our personalities, preferences, backgrounds, nationalities, and cultural differences tend to separate us, in Christ we are One. God is at work in each of us not only reconcile us to Himself in perfect fellowship, but also to one another in the Body of Christ. This is for our sanctification and how men will know we are followers of Jesus (John 13:34-35).


The world seeks to divide people, but especially God’s people. May this not be so. We have a responsibility to love each other first, our faith family. Our love for others is a direct reflection of our love for the Lord (1 John 4:20-21). Gossiping, assuming the worst in another, quarreling and even hatred do not represent Christ. In fact, this dishonors His Name and grieves the Holy Spirit.

God desires for us to worship Him by offering a sweet-smelling sacrifice. Namely, how we relate to the people around us. What we say and do, even what we think of others, matters. Our words of kindness and truth, sincere love, humble service, self-control, a listening ear, and the ability to forgive quickly will diffuse the pleasing aroma of Jesus. When we choose to react like the world of godless rebels believers miss the opportunity to display their signature scent.

You are the pleasing aroma of Jesus Christ. What a privilege it is to put on the sacred perfume He bled and bought for you and me.


Grace upon grace,



Grow deeper: Exodus 30:22-38; 2 Corinthians 2:14-17; Colossians 3:12-17

Servant Priests

Exodus 28; Hebrews 9; Matthew 25:31-26:13


“To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father- to Him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.” -Revelation 1:5-6

How we relate to people, especially in the Body, seems to be of great concern to our Lord. Spiritual unity is a theme found throughout Scripture and was important enough for Jesus to pray over before going to the cross (John 17:19-23). If God’s heart could be summed up in two sentences it would consist of our love for Him and how we love others (Mark 12:28-31). Why do our relationships matter? Can’t it just be me and God?

When we look back to the Ten Commandments, the first four commands are how man lives toward God. The last six speak of people rightly interacting with each other. God gave us a template for relationship in the Trinity. Created in the image of God, we are made to be relational. We are meant for community.


For the most part I am typically reserved and shy, especially in large groups. It takes a lot of energy to be around people for an extended period of time. So intentional community could potentially be an introvert’s worst nightmare. Our bandwidth is limited more than the naturally outgoing person. Still, this isn’t a cop-out as we are all called to serve others, investing in relationships among the faith family. I can trust God to help me interact with people and not live selfishly to myself.

It is actually a joy to represent Jesus by ministering to someone. My Father ministers to me everyday through various acts of service. It might be a text message from a sister in Christ checking on me, a meal, a joke, prayer, or receiving childcare help. Serving the Body doesn’t have to be complicated. There are many practical ways we can bless another or perhaps be on the receiving end.

The priesthood order outlined in Exodus 28 foreshadows not only Jesus as our Great High Priest but believer-priests in the Church Age: us! Notice Aaron is given the high office (a type of Christ), but his sons are instituted as servant priests also. This is our spiritual heritage, a picture of what it means to be the hands and feet of Christ (1 Peter 2:5). Jesus says how we serve others will define whether we are His or not. This isn’t a works based salvation but a product of flourishing faith, obedience and love. Our spiritual sacrifice requires giving of ourselves with our time and resources. In this way we identify with Jesus who demonstrated the deepest kind of love through action on the cross.


Mary of Bethany dignified Jesus in the home of Simon the Leper by pouring an expensive perfume over him. This was possibly her life savings and as the Bible does not record her having a husband to depend on financially, her act was one of reckless abandon to the Lord. Did she have an inclination of what was to come? Jesus said she was preparing Him for burial. Whatever her motivation other than overcome with worship, she ministered to Jesus. Can you imagine that privilege? Even then while Mary was in the act of honoring Christ, others around her were scorning this perfumed sacrifice.

What is more incredible than Mary radically serving Jesus is the way he humbly served His own disciples by washing their feet. Jesus also blessed lepers by touching their sores to heal them, erasing their stigma as outcasts. The Lord allowed children to sit on His lap and enjoy His presence, Jesus turned water into wine for a new bride and groom at their wedding feast. Ultimately, Jesus served all who will come to Him by going to the cross. There is no greater testimony than the life of Christ, our Great High Priest. He calls us as servant priests to follow in His steps. Serve the Church, sincerely love and honor our faith family.


Grace upon grace,


Peaceably Disagree

“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” -James 1:19-20

I’ve repeated these verses in James often over the years because I need the reminder. I don’t want to be known as a grouch who is always loudly shouting my opinions and never listening. That isn’t the way of Jesus and it shouldn’t be true of me either. So how does one have a discussion or debate without losing your cool? How can a Christian promote harmony and not discord?

Romans 12:1-15:6 is an excellent passage on practical living in unity. It does not mean you are unable to share your thoughts, convictions or opinions. After all, God made us with the ability to reason. What it does mean is we keep the other person (or people) in mind during a disagreement. Am I honoring them by listening? Do I show love and humility with my words and body language? 


The way we deal with confrontation as believers matters because of Who we represent to a watching world. It’s easy to blast someone on social media without thinking much of it. This is especially true if we don’t know the other person very well or at all. Don’t let the lack of physical interaction become a blinder to the fact that words can be destructive and destroy any testimony we have. The virtual world is not a barrier, as we are still accountable for our words and actions. It would serve us well to remember this.

I cringe just thinking about confrontation. It’s not something I go looking for. Yet as a lover of truth, defender to justice, guardian of mercy, sometimes we need to speak. How we go about it is what will honor the name of Christ or misrepresent His matchless grace. All too often Christians default to silence, not wanting to offend Aunt Martha from Idaho or the neighbor down the street. This isn’t always the best solution either.

Disagreeing with someone can be done with grace and peace as we strive for unity- especially among the faith family. To be clear, we do defend the core doctrines of Christianity at all times. This is not to be disputed. The virgin birth, Deity of Christ, the Trinity, resurrection, and salvation by grace through faith, are foundational for a Christian. Explicit commands in Scripture are also non-negotiable. But if there are lesser disagreements then as Paul writes in Romans, “if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (12:18). Why would we do this?

  1. All men and women are created in the image of God and therefore should be given proper respect.
  2. Those in the Body of Christ are called to walk worthy, living in spiritual unity with each other (Ephesians 4:1-5; Philippians 1:27-2:4).
  3. You represent Jesus. As a minister of reconciliation, we reflect our Savior.


There is freedom in accepting we will not always see eye to eye on every issue among believers. Not everyone has to be like me (because THAT would be boring!). This is the beauty of having a personal relationship with Jesus. He addresses us as individuals in our sin because we’ve each been given a distinct personality with certain preferences, habits and weaknesses. It is through our unique personhood we learn to operate as one Body. Only Christ can dream up something so wonderful and improbable yet still make it possible.

It is not a crime to ask questions or form convictions. But we must also be humble to admit when we might be wrong, or change our position if necessary. At the very least we can peaceably disagree. This is how we can dignify another person we have conflict with. Don’t take offense when a brother or sister in Christ disagrees with you. We aren’t robots and may have different views on politics, how we raise our kids, or worship-style preference. This does not make you less (or superior) in your faith if someone does it differently than you.

When we learn to not take an opposing view personally, we are able to practice bearing with one another in love, responding with gentleness and respect. In this way the Church adorns the Gospel, making it attractive before a world in need of some really good news right now.

Grace upon grace,


Ordinary World Changers

It’s mid-morning. I dump the rest of his soggy cereal in the sink. Jesse is now at school, peppering his teaching aide with the same question, “when is P.E.?” It’s his favorite part of the day. Normally I listen to a podcast driving back home, navigating the morning traffic and various school zones. The Holy Ordinary Collective podcast highlights stories from everyday life- people like you and me. I’m struck with the exquisite detail in storytelling from the speaker as she composes the soundtrack to someone’s life.

The listener gets a window view into the ordinariness of it all, which may not seem newsworthy. But what I’m drawn to in these slices of life is the faith of the person in each story. The Lord weaves His tapestry of grace through the fabric of each sentence. The speaker’s soothing voice encourages my spirit by sharing snippets of a faithful follower. The stories here aren’t flashy, but lived out in the normal moments. The woman in Unexpected Gifts spoke of our lives lived not on the mountain tops or in valleys, but mainly somewhere in-between.

Pour the coffee. Drive to work. Put a load of laundry in. Repeat the next day.

So what does it look like for those of us who desire to usher in the Kingdom of God here? How can a stay-at-home mom, a full-time employee, the elderly, a high schooler, change the world? What does that even mean?

Bringing God’s Kingdom to earth, happens mostly as we live each day pursuing personal holiness, delighting in the wonder of God. The sacred work is in staying faithful right where God has called us.

Paul illustrates the body of Christ by comparing it to an actual body (1 Corinthians 12:12-31). There are many parts and we each have a role to partake. We change the world in our own circle of influence. We raise the next generation, making disciples in our own home. We say ‘yes’ to an opportunity for local missions or lead a small group. We say ‘yes’ to staying faithful in our marriages, family devotions, and in prayer. We intentionally build relationships, attend our local church and look for ways to serve one another.

Our everyday life is where our faith grows up. This isn’t a product of moralism or legalism, but out of the root of genuine love for Jesus. We want to be like Him, to know Christ and to make Him known.

When we are tempted at the end of the day to rush through bedtime prayers with our kids let us remember how to patiently persevere. When the floor needs to be swept (again) from all the crumbs on the floor may we not complain. It may seem monotonous, pointless and even fruitless at times, but God uses us in the various jobs we have to point others to Christ in what we do and say. You may be the only person someone sees Jesus in today. We may never know the impact our words and simple acts of love have on another soul.

The Lord urges us to not grow weary in doing good. Your faithfulness to God’s design for your life is what makes you a world changer. I don’t think that’s an overstatement. We were not created to “save the world”. Jesus already did that. But we do get to take part in declaring Jesus’ mark on our lives to a lost people.

We plant our feet in the soil where we are, being deeply rooted in God’s Holy Word, serving as the living, breathing, body of Christ. The domino effect of our obedience brings God’s Kingdom to earth so that one day people from every tribe, tongue, and nation will give glory to God (Revelation 7:9-12).

So I’ll pick Jesse up from school this afternoon, in between the errands and grocery shopping. It isn’t glamorous, but it is obedient and pleases God.


“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Galatians 6:9-10


Grace upon grace,




The Gift of Silence

Hi reader! I’m over at Our Shared Tales today talking about the gift of silence and why it matters. Maybe you think carving out slices of quiet is a luxury, but it can be practically applied to you too. Read the full post here or check out the excerpt below. 



Fred Rogers aka “Mister Rogers”, once said in an interview that “silence is a gift”. He then proceeded to sit in silence with the interviewer… the awkwardness in the room is palpable. You can see this clip in a documentary on his life called Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Mister Rogers wasn’t trying to get a laugh, although it was amusing to watch. Rather, he was communicating a truth I often fail to see.

Silence seems boring and unproductive. It can make us uncomfortable. In America, we are hardwired for the exact opposite. From the moment our eyelids peel open each morning we have access to sensory overload. It can start to become normal, serving as background noise….

Click to read the full post


Grace upon grace,


Made To Worship

I’m reading right now the book of Jeremiah in the Bible. He has a tough message to give the people. They have pranced around in a masquerade as God’s people but did not really know Him. Their hearts were far from the Lord as they paid Him lip service, deluded into thinking their Abrahamic lineage could save them.

This is what the Father tells Jeremiah to say:

“My people have committed two sins: 

They have forsaken Me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, 

broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”

-Jeremiah 2:13


Israel ran to worthless idols, forsaking God and binding themselves as slaves to lifeless, manmade objects. The people sought purpose, satisfaction and love apart from God, coming up empty, yet lusting for more. They loved their idols more than cultivating a genuine relationship with the Lord.

They loved their idols more…

It doesn’t sound much different than our world. And it isn’t just “us” pointing the finger at “them” and their depravity. I was convicted in reading Jeremiah’s words too. How often do I run after other things, ANYTHING, other than the One who created me?

Like chasing the wind in a desert, I can commit spiritual adultery too. Reading through this book is humbling. I want to daily bring myself before the Father asking Him to guide my decisions.

There is nothing new under the sun. I think it’s spiritually healthy for believers to take stock of where our treasures are. Do I want what God can give me, more than I want God? One is soul killing, the other soul saving.

Who or what satisfies you today?


We can still be His children even when we stumble but it isn’t His plan for us. The Israelites abused God’s grace and patience. They had no real heritage with Him as they continued to reject God’s love. Those who continue to fight against the Creator doing as they please were never His to begin with.

God wants our hearts so that we worship Him alone.

We are made to be worshippers- and we all worship something. Is it the Lord? Let us not be deceived into spiritual complacency and compartmentalize God just on Sundays thinking “we’re okay” or good enough if we check a box.

Through His Son Jesus we are called to so much more. Chasing the temporary can’t bring contentment. He has equipped us together with all the saints to pursue Him in holiness, in love. We have the privilege to honor Christ today as humble warriors!

Delight in the One who gave everything for you. 

Believer, you are lavished in God’s consuming love. You are protected in Christ’s righteousness. You are guided by the Holy Spirit.

Anything other than our Father will let you down. That’s a promise. Trust in His wisdom for your life and worship God alone today.

Grace upon grace,


Fit to serve

I am sitting on the couch, fingers wrapped around a cup of warmth and deliciousness, also known as coffee. It’s raining outside and thankfully there aren’t any urgent errands to run. After dropping Jesse off at school this morning, the house is still, and I take a moment to savor the quiet. As a stay-at-home mom, this is the career I’ve always wanted, but it requires me to be my own boss.

I’m responsible for how much gets done each day at home. If the laundry isn’t clean or the dishes stay piled high in the sink before dinner it’s on me.

Discipline is key. This principle applies to all of life really. Structure, routine, rhythm, whatever you call it, time management helps things run smoothly. Even structuring time for margin is important. One way I do this is intentionally taking time throughout the week to take care of myself.

“Self-care” is a word that in the past, I gave a suspicious sideways glance. It gives an impression of selfishness, curated by our culture’s post-modern vocabulary which I don’t trust as a general rule of thumb. But over the years I’ve learned it is actually very important. As a mom to a boy with autism, my days are demanding physically, mentally and emotionally. I need healthy ways to relieve the stress that internally builds up.

Imagine you’re flying in an airplane that is in distress. The emergency oxygen masks pop down and they tell you to put yours on first before helping the person beside you. That goes against every mama instinct, but the logic behind it is that if you aren’t getting any oxygen, you can’t help someone else put on their oxygen mask.

One way I’ve practiced self-care is by exercising a few days a week. I don’t make it a huge deal, just around 30 minutes is fine. But I feel better afterwards, for doing something good for my body and mental health.

After collapsing a few years ago with just my son at home it was a wake-up call to take better care of myself. I want to bless my family and friends and community by being around for as long as I can. The best way to do that is to make sure I’m able to function first.

Listening to my body and its warning signs: Am I breathing too quick and shallow? Brain fog? Short temper? Fatigued? You get the idea…It’s just about making simple changes to improve my overall health. Even if it’s just sitting for 15 minutes alone or not turning on music in the car to declutter my thoughts. Maybe you have to hide out in the bathroom to get away from the chaos of little ones for a few moments. That’s okay.

When we know that a short break will help us be a little more patient and kind to those we take care of, it’s actually a service to them too.

Our bodies are made to honor God, and He only gave us one. Moderate exercise, better food choices, even how I spend my time, are all ways to worship the Lord by demonstrating His authority over me. I don’t think it means we’re rigid with our lives, but I don’t want to abuse this gift either. I can please God by taking care of my body, which enables me to serve others well.

What is one way you take care of yourself? Or what simple change can you make to help your overall health? I’d love to know. Feel free to share in the comments below 🙂


Grace upon grace,


Disappointment and Hope

An older woman with children grown sat in my living room listening to me pour my heart out. I listed specifics of disappointment I struggle with but it probably sounded more like a child whining. We didn’t know each other, not well anyway, having just met face-to-face for the first time that day. But she was recommended by a trusted mentor as someone who could listen and give counsel. I didn’t hold back, and after quietly listening letting me vent all my frustrations, she wisely directed me to the book of Job.

Here was a man who lost everything. His servants, wealth, all of his children, livestock, and income were gone. Then he was stricken with boils all over his body as the last blow. His wife and friends didn’t provide much help either, urging him to curse God and die, or confess some hidden sin he must have for God to permit all of this.

Job had no answers and he found no comfort.


The last few chapters in Job are some of the most powerful words recorded in the Bible. The Lord decides to speak directly to Job, asking rhetorical questions reminding him (and us) Who is in control of the universe.

God basically tells Job that since He is all-wise and all-powerful, who is he to question the Lord?

My thoughts are so limited, my understanding as vast as the present day. I don’t know what will even happen beyond the end of this sentence. Not really. We learn from past history but God was actually there. Not only that, but He has laid out the future as well. He is there too.


So this godly lady sitting on my couch pointed me to Job’s story to help me remember God’s Sovereignty and Greatness. Just like Job, our lives are one of many stories weaved into History. It’s not that our lives are meaningless, but in comparison to the Lord’s omnipotence who am I to stamp my foot and say “life isn’t fair”? If I know He loves me fiercely enough to send Jesus to die for my sins then can’t I rest in His wisdom for the rest of my life too?

The continued disappointment of infertility sometimes stings. I think I have a handle on it then there’s another pregnancy announcement or baby shower invitation. It’s like throwing cold water over my head. I’m stunned by the swell of emotions that come from a deep place inside me of something lost- something that never was.

Resentment isn’t far behind if I don’t quickly put a lid on the explosion of feelings. So I asked this woman what do I do when this happens? When I’m side-swiped by my own heart?

She encouraged me to go to the greatness of God when I feel jealous, hurt, left out, over a heart desire unfulfilled. That’s why we looked at Job. It is one of the best places to see the Transcendence, Sovereignty, and Wisdom of God. Only God is big enough to fill the gaping hole in our hearts.


If I am not given more babies then He will give me more of Himself by helping me understand that only Jesus satisfies the longings of my soul. I may not understand why I have infertility or why God chose me and Jason to have a special needs son. These are worlds I never expected to enter, but here we are.

When we ache over unfulfilled dreams, we can always look to Christ. God proves Himself over and over to us even though He doesn’t have to. As we remember His past faithfulness, His present goodness, and future graces, well, these are gifts to cling tightly to. His love for us is still true, meeting us in the pain. Our Father gives us our Hope in the middle of Disappointment.

There is a song by Lauren Daigle that speaks directly to trusting God when life doesn’t turn out like you expect. I hope you are ministered to today in whatever loss or dream you’re still waiting on.


Grace upon grace,




Words to live by this year

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.

Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” – 2 Peter 1:3-4




These are the words I want to practice more of until it becomes habit, until it is my nature.

Habits of grace.


2018 was hard and wonderful. Isn’t it normally like that? Life is full of trials and joys. We moved into a new house and Jesse started a new school- again. He watched his first movie (Toy Story in case you’re wondering) over the summer.

We’re starting over in many ways but also living just as we have, day after day. This is a new year, but you are still the same you. We each have one life to bless others, worship the Lord, and use our gifts.

Our lives are filled with so many good things. We enjoy them with gratitude knowing Who lavishes us with these graces. But with all things kept in eternal perspective, only Christ brings purpose to even these earthly blessings.

Only God can satisfy a parched soul.

Only ‘I AM’ fills the cracks with Himself. Longing for the Lord is good- be patient and persevere in seeking His face.

Coram Deo. Living before the face of God.

We let our light of salvation flood out the dark- in our own flesh and the culture around us.  Jesus can use you this year to be an agent of change for His Kingdom, that is not of this world. That’s worth celebrating any day of the year 🙂


Grace upon grace,