A faithful gift

“As long as the earth endures, 

seedtime and harvest,

cold and heat,

summer and winter,

day and night

will never cease.”

Genesis 8:22

This is a promise the Lord made to Noah after the flood. We can still see the faithfulness of His covenant today. As long as the world endures, God orchestrates the seasons of the year, rotating the Earth, allowing us to experience variety in nature.

The gift of sight.

We behold His beauty, His creativity, His faithfulness daily in creation. But it isn’t just in nature. The Father works in our lives individually to show us His power and love. We see Him in our circumstances. How has the Lord been faithful to you? Day by day He gives us grace- from each breath we take, to providing food, people who love us and we can love in return, His Word, and the gift of His always with-ness through the Holy Spirit, God with us, Immanuel.

Physical gifts, material blessings, and spiritual riches. These are ways the Lord lavishes us, ways we can delight in Him. But the Gift we have most to be thankful for? Jesus. This Thanksgiving, whatever our circumstances are, we can be joy-filled and grateful because we have Christ. Reflect on His faithfulness to you over the year and your lifetime. Write some of them down. Jesus went to the cross for you and me. He didn’t have to, but perfectly loved and obeyed the Father. He willingly laid down His life for sinners, to set us free. Christ came and died and lives.

He is Enough.


Grace upon grace,


3 Ways to Practice Gratitude

He stomped his foot and looked at me with arms crossed in displeasure. This behavior is a recent development that I have mixed feelings about. Obviously defiance is not okay and needs loving correction. But on the other hand, I see his behavioral development as crossing a threshold, and it makes me jump with excitement on the inside.


Noticing little changes like this even when the result isn’t so great is a step towards thriving. And he is, we just go at a slower pace than most. That’s okay.

Sometimes I get stuck on a merry-go-round of sadness noticing all the ways my son isn’t like his peers. It can quickly plummet into a downward spiral if I don’t get off that circus ride. Most days we operate in our own world without the comparison of typical children since my son is an only child.

The days we are around other kids can feel like a bucket of ice water dumped over me. A cold reminder. I hate being blindsided by my feelings like that. It’s not just because my son has special needs. He’s amazing and I know that. The isolation Jason and I experience as parents is what can make me bitter. We get pushed aside in those casual conversations parents have about their typical kids, concerned their child will fall behind in school, soccer practices take over all their free time, or fill in the blank. It’s hard to not inwardly roll my eyes – because I’m mature like that.

It can feel like we are speaking a completely different language. Hello Holland, hello Italy.

What I am learning on this journey of special needs parenting is that pain is universal, but not divided equally. It doesn’t matter the size of your problem, we all have feelings that matter and should be validated. I never want to minimize what a friend is going through just because I can’t understand it.

If I am going to practice grace toward others, I first need to learn the secret of contentment in my own circumstances. I have failed to do this in my own strength, but  have had victories in the Spirit’s power too. I want to learn how to honor someone else’s struggle so that I can come alongside them, not dismiss their trials.




Here are 3 things I know to be true in cultivating grace and gratitude:

1. Comparison is the thief of joy.

It breeds discontentment. Comparing ourselves with people we know or people we’ve never actually met (Instagram influencers, celebrities, etc.) manifests quietly in our hearts, as our thoughts lash out toward that person, usually without them ever knowing. We end up in envy and self-pity that eats away at our spirits if we don’t change direction.

2. Competing over our trials leads to bitterness.

I know it sounds crazy, but sometimes we rank the severity of our trials with one another. We use our pain as a measuring stick of “how bad we have it” instead of seeking to comfort a hurting friend. I know I’ve done it. But the different kinds of suffering we experience isn’t an indication of how spiritually mature we are. How we respond in those trials, big or small, is the factor.

Do I run to the Lord for refuge? Do I lick my own wounds and try to patch them up? Do I just get angry?

3. A thankful heart guides us back to the Father.

The reason God commands us to be thankful people is that its good for us. Our outlook is brighter and our hearts lighter when we see how much we are blessed. Count the ways, big and small, that God has shown you grace upon grace. It doesn’t come natural for us, but living out this God-honoring principle will be a blessing in itself. Grateful people are happy people. So I start to notice how he is currently laughing, clasping both hands over his mouth as if to contain the giggles bubbling out. The way he is super polite, always making sure to say “Excuse me” in the right context or “thank you” and “please”. We celebrate the small accomplishments, not taking them for granted.

I see how God is using our present circumstances in a new school to help his speech sky rocket. His teachers and therapists are amazing. Not only that, we have been tremendously blessed with a church family that loves him and supports us. Our families live nearby and help any way they can and often.

These are things the Lord has reminded me of lately. He is faithful to turn my heart back to Him with gentle reminders of His love for me, for my son. More importantly, the temporary blessings point toward the greatest blessing I have forever: Christ. They’re like arrows that lead me back to Him, because of what Jesus did at the cross. For me, for you. It all circles back to Christ. Preaching the Gospel to ourselves each day realigns our  ungratefulness to His grace-filled heart.

Grace upon grace,


The joys and challenges in parenting a special needs child

January has been unexpectedly hard- and cold, but well, that one is to be expected.

We’re still settling into the “new house” as my son calls it. This doesn’t seem like home yet,  so we’re all a little displaced, since we don’t belong at our old house either. But I figure this will soon wear off and be a safe haven rather than feel like a guest in our own home.

Along with that there have been particularly stressful moments recently trying to mother/referee his rollercoaster emotions. Sobbing one minute and laughing the next, mixed in with a good dose of hyperactivity and whining tantrums.

It’s taken me off guard because it isn’t his typical behavior.

Is he tired? Should I change his diet? Special vitamins? Is this a normal part of growing up?

I can guess all day and go mad trying to figure out the solution- or better yet, the problem. He isn’t able to articulate all of his big feelings, so outwardly I try to calm him down. But inwardly I internalize.



Until the other day when Jason and I were attending to “new house” stuff I had chest pains. Normally I would shake it off (perhaps foolishly) but since I’ve had a run in with AFib there was concern. Each breath hurt my chest.

I’m fine now, but this pain lasted a day and a half-  soreness like maybe I pulled a muscle. Ironically Jason has had the exact same chest pain for 2 years. I did rest that day, just in case, but my fears of another heart problem were put at ease realizing he experiences the same thing.

In fact, it makes sense now.

I’ve heard it said before that parenting a special needs child is on the same stress level as a combat solider. Well, I don’t know about that, but it serves up a great deal of learning challenges, misunderstandings, isolation, acceptance, self-help skills, and sleep deprivation.

This isn’t a sob story because goodness knows we have been tremendously blessed. I know that.

God has given us our son with a purpose. Some of the reasons I see so clearly and other times I do question why there are disabilities at all. It doesn’t seem fair. Looking at other cases just breaks my heart.

But here are two things I know:

One, I don’t want to ever pity another family with special needs children, but love them by being their friend. Enter their mess. Show compassion. Listen. I can’t understand the exact situation, but I can pray for them and even with them. This is what these families need.

To be heard. Seen. Validated. Loved.

Two, God gave me an amazing son who blesses others in a way I can’t fully understand. Sure he’s not perfect by any means but he loves cheerfully. My prayer has always been that the Lord will allow others to see His kindness and goodness through my son.

I believe God has honored this. 

My Father teaches me more and more and more patience when it comes to working with him. My son is the only extrovert in our family so he keeps me and Jason constantly climbing out of our comfort zones. God is inwardly refining my character, as well as showing me how to practice seeing others like my son does.


This job is for life and I know there will be more joys and challenges with it. The joy is found by recognizing those moments as gifts and giving thanks. The challenges prompt me to pray more specifically and consistently.

Is it stressful? For sure. Is my son worth it? Always.

Knowing that God sees all even when no one else does helps me persevere. Jesus shepherds those that have young (Isaiah 40:11) and He will never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5).

I can rest in this, then take a deep breath.

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,




The Joy Word


Jesse has this Veggie Tales book about having a thankful heart. It even has a song to go along with it (yes, a song). A few months ago all he wanted to do was press that song button on the book over and over and over. He would ask for the “happy” book, signing “happy” and point to the bookshelf. As much as I dislike the squeaky, cartoon voices in the song, I can’t help but pay close attention to the words: “Because a thankful heart is a happy heart. I’m glad for what I have that’s an easy way to start…”. The Lord knows I need this reminder just as much as Jesse, probably more. In fact I’m sure of it. It dawned on me after hearing the “Happy” song for many, many nights in a row that this is where joy is born. Gratitude for our daily blessings creates a joyful space in our spirit. This joy expands the more we fix our eyes on His gifts to us.

Joy. It’s uncovered through the art of gratitude.


God has prepared us for this. We were made for joy with Him forevermore. We can start practicing to live in joy today. Maybe it’s hard for you also. I’m preaching to myself just as much as I want this for you too. This is about finding joy in the ordinary, everyday mundane and recovering lost beauty and a worshipful heart.

Gifts that you wouldn’t necessarily think as gifts can be. For me, Jesse’s disabilities are a kind of gift. He still carries a sense of wonder over the ordinary, because his learning of the outside world is just now emerging. I get to see the world through him with fresh eyes. His infectious laughter gets Jason and me every time. We just look at each other and grin thankful we get to be Jesse’s parents. The obstacles of not yet having more children have also been a gift of leaning close to the Lord, trusting Him even when I don’t understand.

Our sense of beauty, innocence and joy was stolen in the Garden of Eden from the very first sin. We need to remember what it looks like and claim His goodness again. I don’t want to live the one life I have with cynicism and joylessness. That is a wasted life.

If “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10 NIV) then we need to know what that means. While you scour the food crusted pots at the sink, while you dig in the dirt planting the tulip bulb to blossom come spring, while you rock your little one to sleep quietly humming a lullaby- joy is there. It’s in the cracks of life, springing up from the ground. It is not a naïve “Pollyanna” attitude, although that term (and movie) does get a bad wrap. It’s a knowing. It is recognizing the source of Life, the Giver of the gifts. Understanding how much we are loved immeasurably through the Greatest Sacrifice in the history of mankind? Let your Joy start there.

Grace upon grace,


We are family eternally

482140827   There is a ladies Bible study at my church that meets on Thursday mornings. We are going through the book of Colossians right now. I am so excited to be a part of this group again since my last time to participate was before Jesse was born. Four years later it is the same familiar faces I love. Most of the women are seasoned in life, veterans who have been walking with the Lord before I was even born. They have so much wisdom among them, I just sit there soaking it in.

I look around the table at all of us, about a dozen or so, and take in their smiles, laughter, and love for one another. It is a privilege to be a part of this group. I start thinking, “This is my family. These are my sisters. We are a sisterhood of believers.” Have you ever thought about that? The people you will spend eternity with? It hits me that those who have put their faith and hope in Jesus are more family to me than actual blood relatives.

I think about the thousands of Christians who have gone before me, and the thousands now who love Jesus like I do. Some personalities may not jive, there may be vast differences in culture, language, interests, hobbies, and talents, but the one thing that binds us forever is Jesus the Messiah, our Redeemer and Savior to poor, wandering lost sheep. Followers and lovers of Christ all share the same heart. We are beautifully intertwined into His Church, the Body. We get to be included, all of us, grafted in for all eternity.

When we get to heaven we will see in panoramic view the dynamic, colorful, joyful true family that we really belong to. Haitians, Chinese, Russians, Americans, Swedish, French, Kenyans, Indonesians and so much more will grace the gates of heaven, bowing down to the Morning Star who saved us all from certain death.

My relationship with Jesus is the most vulnerable and intimate part of me. Who knows me better than the One who created me? This is where our hearts connect and the Spirit within us testifies when we speak of Jesus with each other. There have been moments when I am expressing my love for Christ, or talking through a specific passage in Scripture, or remembering a sermon we both heard with a sister of faith and I get so excited because we can share our deepest passion: Jesus. She gets it, because she too has experienced the wonderful salvation of the Lord. We are forever unified, because: “There is one body, one Spirit- just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call- one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6 ESV).

Brothers and sisters, we are the church in which God is using in 2015. We are the ones who carry out the work and love of Christ “in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8 ESV). We are His witnesses. We are the hands, the feet, the mouth, the eye, the big toe meant to preach the life-saving, life-giving Gospel to those without hope. I know what the admonitions are to reach the perishing, but do I treat my eternal family members as if they are truly my family?

Acts 2 takes place at Pentecost. After Peter’s sermon to the crowd the Bible records 3,000 were added to the number of believers. The next passage is simply wonderful. It says all the Christians lived in harmony with each other, “with glad and sincere hearts” (2:46 NIV) and worshipped the Lord together. It sounds like heaven to me. I imagine this as a little peek into our eternal home with one another, living in glory with King Jesus. It fills me with eager anticipation.

Our first century brothers and sisters in Christ were not selfish with their time or possessions, and freely gave to anyone who had a need. They studied the Scriptures together, ate dinner in each other’s homes, prayed with one another, loved, served, fellowshipped, and praised our Heavenly Father- side by side. What if we did more of this? Do we do this? I think this kind of community living is harder today given that we are further spread apart geographically, and we each have our own little worlds to live in that demand much of our time, schedules to follow, meetings to attend. But we can strive for it anyway. It has to be intentional. In our local churches, in weekly small groups, in non-denominational Bible studies we can and should pursue Christ together.

As I ponder what exactly joy and grace look like I begin to realize that those things can be experienced in the body of Christ. As family, we can extend grace upon grace to one another and allow the joy of the Lord to take root when we realize we do not have to walk this Christian life alone. It’s hard enough as it is. I may not know you personally, but if you have placed your faith in the One I love then you are a part of me and I am a part of you. I also care for you because you are my brother or sister. We will see each other someday. We may share a meal or sing praises in heaven together.

These are the people we will enjoy heaven with- forever. But that isn’t even the best part. We will not have our flesh in sin to compete with the Spirit who dwells in us. No more misunderstandings or hurt feelings or wrongdoings. The imperfect community experienced on earth that is marred with broken, sinful vessels will one day all be restored to perfect communion. I cannot wait to worship with you, my brothers and sisters, to be alongside Paul, Ezekiel, Ruth, Moses, John the Baptist, Hannah, Stephen, Charles Spurgeon, Elisabeth Elliot, C.S. Lewis, and the myriad of saints that we can call family. Imagine all the interesting conversations we will have! When we are finally home together leaving this world behind, arm in arm, hand in hand, all of us will delight in the presence of Christ together, because we are family eternally.

Grace upon grace,