The Life We Never Expected


          The Life We Never Expected by Andrew and Rachel Wilson is an honest confession inside a home with two special needs children – both have different forms of autism. The Wilsons write about real life experiences mingled with sadness and hope. They taught me that it is okay to grieve the dreams I had envisioned for my son; the things all parents look forward to for their kids: little league sports, college, independent living, marriage and grandchildren. Some of those may eventually come true, but right now a typical life is not one of them.

Andrew, a pastor in the UK, is transparent with his own struggles, coming to terms with the life he never expected. All the “big” ministry opportunities he envisioned, traditional parenting, and a regular life, was thrown out the window. Rachel writes in a vulnerable voice, acknowledging that this is hard and messy; but they find moments of humor and sweetness too.

Having a child with any kind of disability is isolating. I feel like I’m in a foreign land most days, unable to relate to another parent’s struggles because we are on completely different plains. When I’m not in the right mindset seeing my son’s typical peers wrecks me. This book has been a lifeline to help me remember that I am not alone. Sleepless night after night? Yes. Multiple therapy appointments? Yes. Hyperactivity, missed social cues, and seizures? Yes, yes, yes. Sometimes it’s comforting to identify with someone else going through a similar situation. I highly recommend this book as an oasis for any parent with a special needs child. Furthermore, family, friends, and the church can glean a helpful inside look on what daily life is like in upside down parenting.

The hope Andrew and Rachel possess as believers is contagious. They live with a mindset focused on eternity – in a world free from autism, epilepsy, wheelchairs, tube feeding, or any kind of suffering. One day their precious children (and mine) will have fully functioning minds where normal conversation is possible. One day they will be finally and completely healed. The Wilsons have given me a breath of fresh air with their raw and truthful words. For that I am grateful.

Here is an excerpt from Rachel:

“We are, at best, sailing desperately into the fog, with ever-changing winds, choppy waters, blank maps, and no real idea what we’re doing.

But God is the Captain. He is the navigator, mapmaker, and expert […] as uncertain as our voyage is, there are solid landmarks ahead that are knowable and concrete because of the Captain.

[…] I know He will journey with us to the very end, at which point everything that is perishable and incomplete will be gloriously resurrected and healed.

So I fix my eyes, not on what is seen but on what is unseen. And I take a deep breath.” (p. 148)


Grace upon grace,




Confessions of a childless stay-at-home mom


I have floundered this first full week of school- what to do with myself, what I’m good for, that type of thing. I’m a stay-at-home mom without a child now from 8-2:30 roughly. Am I lazy? Do I have anything else to offer in society?  I start examining the world’s standards of what I’m supposed to be doing with my life and the toxic game of comparison begins.

Even stay-at-home moms with children ALL DAY find the time and/or desire to volunteer in the community, teach Sunday school, work part-time from home and attend a Bible study.

So here’s me the jellyfish just floating through life – well its how it feels anyway. What do you do when you feel like you don’t matter? Go out and get a job? Volunteer at a soup kitchen? Those are wonderful things, mind you, I just don’t feel the need to do them personally. Am I “just a mom”? Or can I be more than that? Is it enough and can I learn contentment in being at home even when I have no one to mother during the day?

My work seems small and meager.

Invisible, insignificant.

…And that’s okay.

Most of the inner workings of the world go on without any fanfare, recognition, or even so much as a “thank you”. My self-worth is not wrapped up in what I do, how many plates I can keep spinning at once, but who I am in Christ.


Shortly after winning their silver medals in synchronized diving, Olympic athletes David Boudia and Steele Johnson were asked by a reporter about their mindset with each dive. They admitted the pressure was intense to compete well, but that their identity is in Christ and not what they accomplish on the diving board. These young Olympians are secure in their worth because it isn’t tied to this world.

We may not be remembered in history (or win medals) for washing a pile of laundry, cooking dinner, or picking up our kids from school, but what will remain is how we reflected God’s character toward others. Whether your audience is one million or one, how you live should ultimately please the Ultimate One.

No one else has your life.

God gave it to you and the people in it to make much of Him, not yourself. There is a season and a time for everything. Thank God for the really good, the really hard, the really lonely, and the really ordinary times. As we focus on Jesus Christ, He will lead us, and our lives will culminate into worshipful living. Go to the Source of Life when you feel meaningless (or at least your work) and ask the Spirit to bless the work of your hands.


Because when it’s all said and done, the most important thing you can do with your life is to pursue God and live out the faith you’ve been given. So for today? Enjoy God and His good gifts, big and small. Simply trust that in our unworthiness, Christ made us worthy of our calling. You are loved by God, and He is faithful to sustain you wherever He has placed your feet.


Grace upon grace,



Missional Summertime


This summer is already the best one yet as a mom who is now turning the corner to having a “big kid”. It is also the hardest, by far. His five-year-old curiosity and energy level daily leaves toys littered on every surface in the house. The floors stay dirty and the laundry list of things to do besides the actual laundry is high. I just have one child, but he always seems to be right under me – like in the kitchen, while I’m making dinner – when kids have the ability to multiply themselves to be everywhere at once.

In the school year there is more time to myself, so the summer schedule is taking some adjustment. But I love it. My little guy and I get to set our own itinerary (aside from naps, those are still essential) and we step out the door exploring our own backyard, neighborhood, and hometown. Days are filled with lingering at the local botanical garden, swimming at the Y, visiting the playground and trips to our library, which has an awesome children’s section.


It’s a balance of playing with him, getting regular housework done (or attempting to), and still trying to maintain my sanity, staying human. Jesse is learning to entertain himself more, which is huge. But because he is an only child I want to make sure we have time together. In a lot of ways at this stage I am his main friend/playmate. It won’t always be like this so it takes effort to be cognizant, soaking it in.

Yes some days are super hard. I’m exhausted, he’s tired, it’s too hot outside and patience wears thin as whining rises high. Yes, on those days I just want to go be by myself in a room with some great air conditioning.

But that isn’t the whole story.

Other days, sometimes in the same day, are magical moments – pure childhood fun.

We take walks; he holds my hand. We set up the plastic pins to bowl in the kitchen alley, followed by eruptions of cheer. He cools off in the sprinkler, enjoying it for the first time this year and I sit back watching him marvel over the simple things.

Growing up I took those summers for granted, thinking I’d have them always. There is something unique about this season for a child. It is a time of transition, growing up, learning by play.


Moms, the struggle is real and I’m not minimizing that, but I know I too often suck the joy out of each day with my complaining. We set the tone for our homes and if the kids see us short-tempered and even resentful, they’ll get the message.

Summertime is actually harder than the rest of the year, but its priceless time too. You and I have the opportunity to pour into their sponge-like minds and impressionable young hearts. Parents have the classroom 24/7 right now. What do you want them to learn from you in these few short months? What will they take away from this summer?

I’m finding that the reason this season is challenging stems from learning to daily die to self. Moms feel like they are constantly giving of themselves – making breakfast, picking up toys so we don’t break our necks, grocery shopping, sharpening our parenting skills, trying to make wise decisions on the fly.

I know you want to honor the Lord in how you raise your kids. I know you want them to love Jesus like you do. I know you hope your little ones (or maybe not so little anymore) will love God’s Word. And all of this begins with our example. The responsibility feels heavy, but also freeing as we live into the identity Christ gave us. Motherhood is our ministry; our families are the people we serve. Do they see Jesus in us? This summer, you have that time.

All women, whether you have children of your own or not, have the joy of missional motherhood:

“Every Christian woman is called to the spiritual motherhood of making disciples of all nations.”

-Gloria Furman

We have a great opportunity during the summer months, when life is slower, and pockets of time are free. I hope you don’t get caught in a rut like I have recently of hurrying these next few weeks along. I don’t want to just meet my son’s outward needs of food and clothing, or just marking time. I want to get to his heart too. But you and I can’t do this alone. Ask the Lord to help you. Ask Him to provide strength each day. The most important thing we can teach the children in our care is to show them Jesus.


Gloria Furman, author of Missional Motherhood, writes, “Jesus invites women to missional motherhood to follow His pattern, to trust His promises, and to nurture others by the power He provides.” The best sermon we can preach is the one lived out at home. There are a little over a dozen summers you have with your kids before they lose that valuable freedom. Use it well and enjoy the very good gift of childhood summers.

Grace upon grace,


6 Things Every Special Needs Parent Wishes You Knew



“but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” -Romans 5:3-5


I hesitate to even write something like this because I can see how it would easily be interpreted as complaining. However, I think that sometimes when one can serve as the voice for many to be heard, it is beneficial for all. I have met other parents with special needs children and while our stories don’t look exactly alike, this list I think addresses issues most parents feel. Even parents with typically developing kids will identify on some points.

Children are a blessing from the Lord, and as we learn what struggles each of us face, “to walk in one’s shoes” so to speak, maybe there can be room in our hearts for patience, compassion, encouragement, and even prayer toward one another.


  1. We often feel overwhelmed mentally.

Feeling physically exhausted goes with the territory of any parent with small children. And you do sometimes feel like you will lose your ever lovin’ mind. But raising a special needs child is especially mentally taxing. There is a steep learning curve for parents to learn medical language for example. There are encounters with neonatologists, neurologists, audiologists, optometrists, GI specialists, geneticists, podiatrists, sleep specialists, along with his general pediatrician.

Then we learn the ropes (and jargon) for therapy with Early Intervention, the “experts” in Autism (or whatever the disability), speech, occupational, physical, and playgroups. We find out what our insurance will and will not cover, and then play phone tag with the insurance companies.

Parents with special needs children are later immersed into the world of education (and there’s a whole set of special terms to learn here as well). Obviously we want the best for our child, and I am personally grateful for the educational opportunities we have been given. But this also involves 2-3 hour long IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meetings with your child’s “team” to write out goals and services for him that are legally binding.

Sometimes when we don’t agree with the educational team about his placement or switching schools (again) there is push back. We are their advocates and sometimes that requires fighting “the system” to do what we feel is best for our child.

Most children with Autism have sleeping problems (as high as 80%). This affects not just the child, but also everyone else in the house. Parents are sleep deprived long past the newborn stage and are expected to function as if nothing is wrong.


  1. We worry about our child’s lack of development

We wonder if they will ever become independently functional. What will happen if one or both parents die? What will happen to her once she becomes an adult? Will I still be able to care for her?

Worrying about the future is fruitless because no one knows the future except God. But the fears still haunt us and for me it calls for daily trust in the One who designed my child.


  1. It can feel very isolating

We can’t carry on the same conversations with other parents about our kids. While yours is playing tee-ball and learning about rockets, mine just learned to drink from an open cup without spilling. We celebrate in a big way those little milestones because it’s a small step toward progress for him.

I have to work at not feeling angry or cursed in isolation just because others “don’t get it”. Honestly, it isn’t their job to understand my situation although it would be nice. I have to remember that Jesus sees me and He has carried us through so far. When Christ lived on earth He was misunderstood and even rejected. The Lord sympathizes with my heart.


  1. We love our kids!

It pains us to see them struggle or not quite fit in but its just part of the deal. Other special needs parents I know Google like crazy, research like grad students, take their child to a renowned doctor states away, sit in a waiting room while their son has a 6 hour operation, inquire over the best therapy places in town, or special sports teams/activities and attend parent support groups.

These parents are warriors for their kids, utilizing all the resources available to them. All so they can give their kids their best chance to thrive.


  1. We may not be great at relationships

This goes back to the isolation thing. It is very hard to connect with someone who looks at you as if you’re from a foreign land when you tell them about your day-to-day activities. And sometimes when we sense a lack of grace in how we raise our kids, we draw back. If you thought there wasn’t a manual for parenting a typical child, there definitely isn’t one for raising a special needs kid. It is a vast frontier of uncharted territory for us and we are doing the best we can just like you are.

I also just do not have the mental energy at this time right now. Even scheduling lunch with a friend outside the regular routine makes me want to hyperventilate.

Friends and family who stick by us understand if we don’t call enough or visit enough. There is already a load of guilt for not doing “all the things we should”.

We long for community and a support system, and some of us have it, but some are in a season of life where survival mode is the only option.


  1. We connect differently with our kids

Like I said before, we love our children, but for me personally, communication is an obstacle. I understand (and interpret) what he says some of the time. My little guy is persistent though and will repeat the same word a few times hoping I’ll make sense of it. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t, and we just move on both a little disheartened.

We tell our children we love them over and over, even if we never hear it back. We play their games, the habitual ones (spinning, anyone?), because we long to meet them where they are, so we step into their world.

It’s mind numbing for sure, but for that time he looks in my eyes, holds my hand, falls asleep on my chest, or squeals with delight? Well, that makes all of this totally worth it.

To the parent of a special needs child, you are doing a great job just for getting out of bed each day ready to take on the daily challenges and demands. Don’t give up on your baby.

To others who know of someone with a child who has special needs, show them grace. Understand that their lives function differently than the rest. Give them a hug or shoot them an email of prayer/encouragement. Parents need it!

Hopefully we can all take a step closer toward loving others right where they are, however messy or hard. It is in those moments the light of Jesus Christ is reflected back to the ones you reach out and serve. And isn’t that what we all want in the end? For the world to see Jesus in us, because He is the very best thing for every parent and every child and every person.


Grace upon grace,






when you need white space


The day after Jesse’s 5th birthday party he got sick. The boy who always says “hi!” to everyone and never stops was quiet and lethargic. That’s how you know he doesn’t feel well. Jesse kept a hard, non-stop cough for a week and then I got it. Sickness has a way of forcing us out of our scheduled routine. We hunker down at home and don’t leave except to go to the doctor’s office or pharmacy.

To be honest I got a little stir crazy keeping him home from school, not doing anything while still trying to keep the little guy semi-entertained. Add to that not feeling well myself and I start to sputter. What do you do when the mama needs her mama?


I craved some white space, a time out, but that would have to wait. As moms, we are used to putting ourselves last and for a little while that might be necessary for survival. But after the immediate needs of little ones subside there should be moments of self-care, even if it’s in the cracks, one hour here, five minutes there.

Once Jesse was well enough to head back to school I still floundered with how to nurture my own body back to health. Coughing and fatigue set in, but I was restless. My loving husband suggested a short walk, so I did.

There’s a huge, old tree across the street from our neighborhood. It’s branches fan up and out, hanging heavy under the weight of its years. I’m smitten. This tree declares God’s glory, as all creation does, and I have wanted to take a picture of the grandeur. I’d pull into the neighborhood, making a mental note to do so, tucking it away for another day.

Monday was different.

Slipping on my knock-off canvas Toms I wandered down the sidewalk, iPhone camera in hand. The sky blue of spring couldn’t have been more perfect. Breathing deep the thick scent of honeysuckle I gave thanks to the Lord for all of His goodness and grace – more days like this please.



The white space for my brain and soul was carved in that ten-minute walk communing with the God of heaven and earth, delighting in the new day He had made. I snapped a couple of pictures of the well-lived tree attempting to capture exquisite beauty. It didn’t translate to the small phone screen. But I got what I came for anyway. He refreshed me, filling my lungs with sweet air and my thoughts with a high view of Him.

Mamas need to be taken care of too. I’m thankful to serve a tender God who knows that.

“He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart;

He gently leads those that have young” (Isaiah 40:11)

As God calls us to live out our days serving as mothers let us not forget that we have not been forgotten. He sees you, tired from the monotonous day in, day out cycle of raising the next generation. It’s hard stuff. But you are His and you, dear one, are being held. Even on the days we feel like Alice falling down the rabbit hole nothing escapes His knowledge or control.

Rest in Him. He has never let you go. God takes care of His children as we tend to the ones He gave us.

Grace upon grace,


Childlike prayer


We pull into the turning lane to enter our neighborhood and I start to tense because he does. My four-year-old son with autism, hates stopping in traffic. The onset of cars rushing toward him on one side and whizzing by on the other is sensory overload for his system. I can’t say I blame him. He starts to scream, and kicks the center console from his car seat. He cries, “Pray!” And then there is a whimpering, almost begging in his voice, “pray?” My heart splits right in two.

So with my eyes still on the road I lift up my son’s fears to the Lord, asking Him to bring calm and peace to my son’s heart. He quiets and settles down a little, and the two of us turn into our familiar street leaving the chaos of the road for another day.


I’m often convicted of my anemic prayer life after hearing my son ask for prayer. He prays about everything. I taught him the singing one, “God our Father, God our Father, we give thanks, we give thanks, for our many blessings, for our many blessings, Amen. Amen.” So now whenever he is fearful, in trouble, about to eat, or thankful he puts his little hands together in prayer.

I want to be more intentional, and frequent like that. When we cry out to God offering our pleas or praises, the heart calms. The reason we are admonished to “pray without ceasing” is that our spirits need reminding of Who is in control. I am helpless and needy. It is when I pray that I feel even closer to the Lord. He designed it that way.

Communion in prayer and fellowship with the Father depend on how often I’m speaking to Him in prayer as His Spirit speaks to me through His Word. It doesn’t have to sound super spiritual or stifled with formality. We have the freedom to speak from the heart and plainly present our requests, like a child. God knows what we pray before we even say it, but He also knows that prayer forms belief. It is for our benefit.


Prayer allows us to see God at work on a personal level. Intimacy blossoms with the Lord as we get a front seat view to His power and faithfulness in answering our petitions. We experience God in those moments. Also, when we don’t get the answers we want, it doesn’t mean the Father is absent or a hard God. It simply means He has a better plan in mind, meant for your good and His glory.

No matter your situation, big or small, nothing is too insignificant or too hard for our Great God. I’m learning to pray and praise God for the everyday things, not just go to Him with emergency crisis prayers.


My son asks to pray again when we get home. This time it’s because he’s thankful. I can learn from him about how to pray. To be dependent on God through the power of prayer is an opportunity to grow deeper in love and trust with the One who knows us best. It is only then that I understand what it means to have the faith of a child.

Grace upon grace,


The Autism Label


I guess I already knew. Jason and I had been using this term to describe our son for quite sometime: autistic. Something about seeing it the other day in black and white confirmed by the education specialists just felt like a punch in the gut. My son’s autism was now “official” for all educational purposes.

The diagnosis we were given when he was a baby was “developmental delay” and “hypotonia” (which just means he has low muscle tone). I already accepted this. My little guy has always had to work a little harder and longer to accomplish a milestone task. He didn’t start walking until he was 23 months for goodness sake.

The last week or so has been compiled of meetings/interviews/observations with what I like to call his “team”, to go over his Individualized Education Plan (IEP). I am so thankful for these women who have made it their professional calling to help kids like him. His team includes his speech therapist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, specialized Pre-K teacher, and Special Education coordinator from the public school system. The supplemental helpers are his teacher aides (who are fantastic), the Autism teacher, his peers, and basically any other teacher or staff member at the school that he has befriended. He knows more people in the school than I do which I find hilarious and comforting. They all know him and love him and can see what I see in him.

At the same time, recognizing that the label of Autism is now forever attached to my son is hard to process. It explains why he acts the way he does, but Jesse is a lot more than a stereotype too. As I went over the confirmed results with his team I wanted to cry because I could no longer put a veil over the obvious, admitting my son has a disability. There is grief for the parent of a special needs child because I want so much in life for my son just like every other parent. I want him to speak in sentences, to hear ‘I love you, mom’, to understand why we celebrate Christmas and get crazy excited about it like other kids, to pretend to be a fireman or superhero running around the house saving the day!


And yet there was relief in finally coming to terms with his autism. For so long I have wrestled with feeling like a failure as a mom because he hasn’t been able to keep up with his peers in skill level. I thought part of it was something I wasn’t doing right. It isn’t my fault and it isn’t his either. My son has autism. The consolation of having an explanation for his delays, quirks, and irrational fears and the sadness of the reality is an odd emotion to work through.

When the Special Education coordinator looked at me and actually told me I wasn’t a failure I wanted to throw my arms around this almost stranger and give her a huge bear hug. Did she know I needed to hear that? She must have, it’s her job. I’m sure she has seen that look in parents’ eyes before when something really hard to accept becomes concrete. This is my life and I mostly try to focus on the good rather than dwell in self-pity over the hard. Yes, Jesse has autism, but it looks different in each child. He is the happiest person I know and loves to laugh. For the most part he is unaware of himself, which is so refreshing. He doesn’t know he is “different”.

What I want other parents of special needs children to know is that it is not your fault and you a not a colossal failure in parenting. The way we teach and raise our kids just looks a little different. Show yourself some grace and I when I forget this, tell it to me too. Our lives are filled with a bit more misunderstanding from outsiders, worry, and stress. But I know you love your child ‘to the moon and back’ as the saying goes. You wouldn’t go to the insanely long IEP meetings if you didn’t. I know that you take her to all of the doctors’ appointments, the neurologist, audiologist, therapy, and playgroups to help your baby. Breathe a little because you are doing the best you can so give yourself some credit now and then. You wouldn’t do all of this if you weren’t an amazing parent! Today, count the blessings you see in him. Look for it because I know that through the hardship there are silver linings you can be grateful for. I see you today and I’m rooting for you.

Grace upon grace,


8 Survival tips for every mom

552784629I have not been a mom for very long (four years to be exact), so I do not claim to have some superior knowledge or secret wisdom in raising children. I won’t even pretend to act like I know it all because goodness gracious, I know I don’t. These are just a few “survival tips” I have learned along the way so far. I know I have a looooong way to go and oh so much to learn so I hope you understand this comes from a humble place. My goal is to encourage. Think of me as your cheerleader in the corner yelling, “You can do it! You’re doing an awesome job, mom!”

Hopefully though you are not merely surviving each day until your kids are full grown and out of the house. We all need encouragement in those moments to see the gifts God has given us as the blessings they truly are.

#1 Become a planner:

I know, not my favorite either. In fact this is something I stink at. I am not a natural planner but a bona fide procrastinator through and through. I loathe organizing schedules on the calendar, weekly meal planning, and the like. But becoming a mom has forced disciplined me to be a better planner (um, sort of). I still cringe when I have to prepare ahead of time, but it is necessary in making the daily routine run smoother. For example, I try to pack Jesse’s bag the night before if we are planning to go out the next day. Diapers, wipes, snacks, extra set of clothes are the essentials I keep in there. His cute little monkey book bag currently serves as my fashionable purse as well. I am still very often late wherever I go if I do not practice what I preach. Go figure.

#2 You look how you feel:

Ever thought how true this is? I’m not saying deck yourself out in a prom dress everyday. Not. at. all. Plus that might be weird and not very practical. But I do notice that the days I take time to pull myself together I feel a whole lot better. Even a shower can do wonders! Ah-mazing I say! Ladies, that in it self is a big accomplishment for the day. Some evenings when Jason gets home from work he will ask me, “So what did you do today?” I enthusiastically reply, “I got a shower today AND I washed my hair!” I get a confused and to be pitied look from husband, “Uh, I guess that’s great honey…”

Seriously, getting ready for the day (even if it is 3pm) helps your productiveness and maybe even gives you a boost of confidence. Supermom coming through!

photo 2#3 Pick your battles:

            There are some things in life just not worth arguing over. If you need to bust out in Frozen’s ‘Let it Go’ right now I’ll wait…

As I was saying sometimes it is better for all parties involved when you learn what issues to enforce and when to cool your heels. If your kid wants to pick what shoes he wears (as long as it is weather appropriate), is it really a big deal for you to get your way? If it is, maybe try pulling two pairs out and then let him or her choose from those choices. If you are like me (a control freak) you tend to want your way allll the time. Look at it as a spiritual lesson for yourself too. Love is not demanding.

Some things like eating a balanced dinner and not surviving solely on cookies would be a good battle to win. If it is for their nutritional well being, safety, etc., those are justifiable issues to stand your ground. But the ones where you can let them exercise a little independence, go for it. You will not be as exhausted and your child will be less frustrated.

#4 Pray:

            There is power in prayer. When people ask my parents how they raised my sister and me, they often respond, “With lots of prayer.” I’m really glad they did because I sure needed it! Lifting our concerns and pleas to our Holy Father is not only helpful for your child, but benefits you as well, as you seek the Lord’s help. Your fellowship with Him deepens; win-win. Pray for your children’s salvation, and their spiritual growth. It is also amazing when you pray for specifics and see the Lord work. Potty training, obedience, sleeping through the night, not to hit their sister, or whatever are great prayer requests the Lord loves to receive. A lot of mine go something like this, “Lord, help me and give me wisdom to be a good mom. I have no idea what I am doing!”

#5 Stay in Scripture:

            Yep, it is a tough one. Especially those days when you are just plum tired and little man has been up all night partying in his crib like its 1999. You may not get a full hour of uninterrupted quiet time but make goals for yourself anyway. Try to find a time in your day to read your Bible. Be intentional. Sometimes I listen to a sermon in the car or worship music to help align my thoughts with Truth. If you want to be a better mom this is the one thing that is most needed. God’s Word is transformative it “is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV).

#6 Keep at it:

Stay faithful mamas. Hang in there. Even when you do not see any progress, keep going. It takes some kids longer than others to get it. Keep up the great work you are doing in teaching them. Christian moms continue to read Bible stories to your kids and sing worship songs with them. Show them your love for Jesus. You can make an impact in your child’s life by introducing them to God and showing them how great He is. You are preparing the next generation. Your work is kingdom work.

539883511#7 Play:

One of the best things about having kids is that you kind of get to have a second childhood. You see things through their eyes as they experience something for the first time. The joy of a balloon, first taste of ice cream, and the fascination with birds. It is the simple things they take notice of and delight in. Childlike wonder is beautiful, and amusing.

Be playful with your kids. Don’t be afraid to be silly. They do not care what important job you have, if your nails are perfectly manicured or if the casserole is something right off of Food Network. They just want you. They want your attention. I think it is adorable when Jesse follows me through the house and sits down with his toy, just to be near me. Don’t wish away these years, mamas. They are so precious and they grow up way too fast. Even those days when I get really impatient with my son I think, what if this was the last day I had with him? Not to sound macabre, but none of us are guaranteed another day and anything can happen. This always jolts my perspective to be grateful for him and not take my son for granted.

#8 Take care of yourself!

I think moms are so awesome and giving that we sometimes put ourselves on the back burner. We let go of things that used to matter to us: exercise, a favorite hobby like reading, sewing, cooking (for fun!), photography or whatever. It may not be as much as you’d like but try to take time for you a bit. One time after Jesse was in bed I plopped on the living room floor, plugged ear buds in to mellow tunes and painted my nails. A very simple thing, but it helped me relax and feel pretty, like a woman and not just a mom.

I would also add to this a date night with your man. It’s important not to just take care of yourself but your marriage too. If money is tight, maybe just watch a movie together on Netflix after the kids have gone to bed. Get the popcorn (or chocolate in my case) and enjoy snuggle time with your sweetie!

Life is beautiful and meant to be lived well, with intention. You can do this. I hope you have been encouraged and you are now ready to go back out there and do your mom thing! Do you have anything you would add to this list? Anything you disagree with? I would love to hear your comments, suggestions, and snide remarks (kidding about the last one). Happy Thursday!

Grace upon grace,


Ordinary but Extraordinary

553241169I love summer. I didn’t always love it though. Here in the South, Alabama heat can get down right unbearable. I have always been a fair weather kind of girl, enjoying spring and fall best, but this summer is different. Jesse finished his first full year of school, so now I’m cherishing these moments at home more. The house is a little messier, but there are more afternoons to cuddle. I’m exhausted by the end of the day, but my heart is full of happy and funny moments.

These “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer” can sometimes be way too long, but then I remember that the years are even shorter. In our house a typical summer day consists of something fun to do in the mornings, sleepy afternoons, and evenings either playing outside after the day finally cools down, or Jason and Jesse rough housing in the living room. I smile to myself, hearing their laughter as I put dinner away and wash the dishes in the kitchen. I lean over the counter responding to Jesse’s “Mom!” which means, “Look at me!” Jason has Jesse “flying” and I have to watch every single time. I don’t get tired of it. I actually want time to slow down and enjoy my two blessings as much as possible.

Our family has already gone to the beach this year, which was glorious. It was a needed break from everything. I call it my Zack Morris “time out” week where everything else stopped in our world back home. Most days around here since we have been home from the beach are wonderful, but also very ordinary. What I mean is, washing the dishes, laundry, diaper changing, cooking dinners, and making the bed day after day seems very monotonous and mundane. A week or two out of the year is a beach vacation, but most of life is not. Daily living is wiping runny noses, going to the grocery store, naptime, saying ‘no’ to cookies for breakfast, and cleaning the toilet. It is not glamorous, but it can be holy. It is holy work if the attitude of your heart reflects a willing servant like Jesus.

Jesus washed his disciples’ dirty, stinky feet, one of the lowliest jobs in His day. He did this right before He gave His life for them and us. Jesus’ act of feet washing was holy. It was worship. It was something that needed to be done and was performed each time a guest entered a home. It was ordinary. So what made His action any different? Jesus displayed humility, the life of the ultimate servant while on earth by putting others before Himself. He fed. He healed. He taught. He saved.

Philippians 2:5-11 showcases Christ’s humility and how we are to live accordingly. Philippians 2:5 simply states, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (NIV). I just love it. This is a high calling. The work we do each day can be used to worship the Lord. It is ordinary living with an extraordinary purpose. Sometimes I think, “I’m just a homemaker, a stay-at-home mom.” The world loves to tell us that this kind of job is throwing your life away. But God shows me the beauty and purpose of it all. My kingdom work for right now is raising a little one to know and love Jesus. Mothers in particular can have great influence on the spiritual lives of their children. Paul commends Timothy’s grandmother and mother, Lois and Eunice, for their faith, which they taught Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5). Susanna Wesley is known as the Mother of Methodism, because of the example she set for her children, in particular John and Charles Wesley who founded the Methodist church. It is said of Susanna that “…although she never preached a sermon or published a book or founded a church, (she) is known as the Mother of Methodism. Why? Because two of her sons, John Wesley and Charles Wesley, as children consciously or unconsciously will, applied the example and teachings and circumstances of their home life” (Susan Pellowe, Susanna Wesley Biography).

Most of us will never be “the next big thing” with our name in lights over Broadway, or a recognizable face as an athlete or on the silver screen. It is not about us anyway. If we stop pursuing a self-important mindset and embrace our common calling, I think we will be a lot more content. God has purposed you to live in the 21st century, in whatever town you call home, at whatever job you are employed in. An engineer, teacher, janitor, CEO, barista, homemaker, pastor, and doctor can all be used for God’s glory doing His work to bless His Kingdom. Paul alludes to this in speaking to the Athenians:

“From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27).

Michael Horton wrote a book called ‘Ordinary’ which after I listened to it via Audible, I wanted to shout in agreement, ‘Yes!’ He argues that sometimes in the Church there is the notion that missionaries who dedicate their lives to serve in Africa are the Christian elite. Their work is definitely more visible than me making scrambled eggs this morning for my son. But what if the heart of the missionary is not humble, and there is some measure of self-glorification rather than glorifying our King? I say this hypothetically, and hopefully this is not the case at all. Most people will not see the work you or I do in the name of Jesus, and that is okay. God sees you. He knows your heart.

In the body of believers we all have different gifts and functions, so if the Lord calls you to serve in a remote 3rd world country, praise God! If He calls you to stay in the States that is wonderful too and by no means less significant. Your mission field is right where He has placed you. It is among your neighbors, co-workers, friends and family. 1 Corinthians 12:4-31 shows us that workers are needed everywhere with varying abilities, even if to the world, or perhaps yourself, your work seems pointless and mundane, it does not have to be. Horton writes, “Even our common callings in the world are not really our own, but they are God’s work of supplying others- including ourselves- with what the whole society needs. There is a lot of work to be done, but it is his work that he is doing through us in daily and mostly ordinary ways” (Ordinary).

I live a simple, fairly quiet, ordinary life, but it is not a wasted life. I desire to live it out everyday pursuing Christ as He pursues me, and allow the Spirit to be the overflow of my heart in words, thoughts, and actions. In the heart of Huntsville, I want to be Jesus’ hands and feet, washing the stinky feet. This is ordinary work with an extraordinary purpose.

Grace upon grace,


The Healer


I was 28 weeks pregnant with my son when my OBGYN stared at the ultrasound monitor, looking serious and concerned. She noticed Jesse had cysts and enlarged ventricles in his brain. My doctor referred us to a high risk maternal/fetal specialist in Birmingham, who told us that this problem might be related to the heart. He explained to me and my husband that the chambers of Jesse’s heart were enlarged, specifically the right ventricle, because of the increased pressure in the brain. He said it might be because the valve isn’t opening like it should thus preventing good blood flow to the lungs. The doctor also told us there might be a hole in the atrial septum known as Atrial Septum Defect (ASD), which causes the oxygen rich blood to mix with the used blood from the right to left ventricles. The prognosis was grim. My head was spinning as the doctor’s words sunk in. Jason and I felt helpless and numb.

I remember one evening in particular during this time we were hosting a small group Bible study and I had to leave the room to try and compose myself. As I stood in Jesse’s prepared nursery and looked around wondering if he would even get to see it, I broke down and wept.

Sometimes God uses hard situations to draw us closer to Him and this was definitely one of those times. During the next few weeks I poured over Scripture that would help remind me not to fear or worry. I prayed, Jason and I prayed together, our families prayed and our church family prayed over us. It was a bittersweet time, going through the unknown but feeling the comforting presence of the Father in the form of believers who loved us.

Every week until my son was born I went to the maternal/fetal specialist for an ultrasound so we could monitor any changes in his condition. Jason and I believed God could work miracles, and we continued trusting Him throughout the whole process.

At 32 weeks we went to see a pediatric cardiologist in town and he gave us news we were not expecting to hear. This very matter-of-fact doctor looked at Jesse’s heart in utero and point blank said, “I don’t think there is anything wrong with his heart. There doesn’t seem to be a problem.” I wish at that moment I could have captured what mine and Jason’s faces must have looked like when the cardiologist told us that. Dumbfounded, mouths open, me mentally responding with, “Say what now?” We walked out of his office certainly confused, but praising God that Jesse just might be okay.

So throughout the rest of the pregnancy we had two conflicting opinions from doctors. But when the pediatric cardiologist checked Jesse again the day he was born, and then 4 months later, he confirmed for us that his heart looked just fine.

The other medical concern were the two cysts on his brain. After staying in the NICU for 2 weeks, Jesse had an MRI. The day I picked him up I asked the nurse what the results were. She looked at me and said, “Oh they couldn’t find any cysts. Everything looked good.” I distinctly remember God’s overwhelming grace in that moment and I wanted to cry and shout with joy at the same time. God did not have to heal my son, but I believe He did so that He would get the glory.

One of my favorite names of the Lord is ‘Jehovah Rapha’, which means, “the Lord who heals”. Think about the many times Jesus performed miracles of physical healing: “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick” (Matthew 14:14 NIV). Jesus healed the blind, the lame, deaf, mute, demon-possessed, even raising the dead! While the Son performed all these miracles to showcase God’s glory, the most important healing He did was on the inside – our hearts. That is what He came for. Jesus could heal someone from a physical ailment but if their hearts weren’t healed from sin, they would still go to hell. Jesus is the Healer of our souls, and any physical healing that He does is an added demonstration of profound grace.

We are all born with a “defect” in our heart, our sin nature, so this is what Jesus did for us: “He Himself bore our sins in His body, on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24 NIV). My prayer is that one day Jesse’s heart will truly be healed by the only One who can “perform the operation”, the Savior, Jesus Christ.

“Grant me to hear Thy voice assuring me:

that by Thy stripes I am healed,

that Thou wast bruised for my iniquities,

that Thou hast been made sin for me

that I might be righteous in Thee,

that my grievous sins, my manifold sins,

are all forgiven,

buried in the ocean of Thy concealing blood.

I am guilty, but pardoned,

lost, but saved,

wandering, but found

sinning, but cleansed,

Give me perpetual broken-heartedness,

Keep me always clinging to Thy cross,

Flood me every moment with descending grace,

Open to me the springs of diving knowledge,

sparkling like crystal,

flowing clear and unsullied

through my wilderness of life.”

-Valley of Vision

Grace upon grace,