In this day of blogs & social media, it can be unclear who the intended audience is…

While it may be the people who have walked along side us, it is also for me. To look back and not forget.

When Joel quit his office job in Sept 2016, he was in a lot of pain. Joining me in running was a way to stop the pressure of a daily job and focus on healing.

We never expected the pain would get worse. 2017 was a rough year. His pain made him a zombie and unable to do the contract work for Shipt that would complete our budget. It was a very hard year. I’m surprised to call it a year… I thought it was 3 years.

With his surgery in Dec, I got my hopes too high, and I really struggled when he still had so much pain. I started feeling a sense of desperation.

But God blessed us in several ways in February:

1. We were able to share the short job of watching a sweet prematurely born baby during the day, since he wasn’t ready for the germs of daycare. It was a sweet time just holding him. And I think Joel & I worked well together on meeting the babies needs and taking turns.

2. Joel’s pain lessened A LOT. We don’t know if it was a new medicine, or hydro-massage & red light therapy at Planet Fitness, or even finally recovery from surgery, or the mercy of God. Or all of them. But he started returning from zoned out land.

So we are finally regrouping.

What does he want to do for work after a year of living in pain?

How do we come out of crisis mode and become a functioning household again?

It’s such a blessing to consider these things.


Grace and Hope

This Sunday, Joel preached.

It’s been a long time since I have heard him preach.

I had forgotten how clearly he communicates the Word of God.

It was amazing.

He wove together several passages to redirect me to the Source of Hope, the Source of Grace.

It’s very helpful to see a Biblical character experincing similar emotions & difficulties, and a Biblical framework for the why and how to survive.

To hear the answer come from the mouth of my husband, the one experiencing unexplainable pain, was miraculous.

Joel’s chronic pain… before & after

We have a lot of before & afters that have shaped us. Most have brought knowledge & maturity.

  • After Arabella – life is slow & beautiful
  • After Basilica – we learned lots about relationships, dependency, reliance on God
  • After Darin – 3 kids is enough for us

But the after we are in now… after Joel developed chronic pain… seems much harder.

This morning, he shared this link. This portion jumped out at me,

Trying to hold on to the person I am without my pain is the hardest battle I’ve ever fought. I feel like the person I could’ve been has died, and I must grieve for her day after day. I think about this a lot — the idea that I might be a totally different person if I weren’t in pain.

Man, those are devastating realities… for Joel individually, and me as a spouse. 

I still remember the growth we had as a couple in each of the other before & afters. I could see us maturing into what God designed us to be, preparing for another adventure of faith in Him.

But in this after, which started Spring 2014, hasn’t been very great. In this after, new people we meet don’t even know the original Joel who I went through all those adventures with. I am alone a lot, since his pain is his main companion. And the growth in patience and frustration is not a hopeful growth. It’s a bitter devastated growth.

Oh, I hate the well articulated insights of this articulate. They are depressing salt in a wound I can’t heal.

Hope of restoration 

Gracious Redeemer

I was lost in sin, held captive by my fear’til your mercy showed your hand was reaching near
My God, you came and made a way for me
You made a way for me
My Jesus, gracious Redeemer and friend
There’s nothing like Your love without end
My hope was purchased by the blood of the Lamb
My Jesus, Redeemer
You defeated death, You trampled over sin
You’re the Risen King, You’re coming back again
Oh God, You came and made a way for us
You made a way for us
No guilt, no shame
no curse, no chains
new life, You gave
My debt is paid
my soul now saved
oh God, You came

As I went to church today, it seemed that God has specific theme about His character to remind me of – Hope in restoration.

This theme first began to stand out to me at the Women’s retreat I mentioned before as Jackie often spoke of broken things that happen in life “outside the Garden”, in the life where we know good and evil, but don’t get to walk along side the Creator face to face.

So in Sunday School today, we looked at Jeremiah 32:7-44, where in the midst of Babylon besieging and conquering Israel and Judah, God told Jeremiah to do something odd – invest in property in the besieged land… as a symbol of the promise of God’s future hope, of His plan to restore His nation.

This week, I need hope of restoration. I need to know God has a long term plan to make all the chaos make sense in the end. Looking back at His work in the Old Testament, seeing how His plan has been executed to my salvation, I will have hope.

My Heart Is Yours Lyrics

I give you my life
I give you my trust
You are my God
You are enough
Jesus, Jesus
My heart is Yours
My heart is Yours
Take it all, take it all
My life in your hands
I lay down my life
I take up my cross
You are my God
Whatever the cost
Jesus, Jesus
Bridge: (I Surrender All)
All to Jesus I surrender
All to You I freely give
Oh I will ever love and trust You
In Your presence I will live.

20 year of the faithfulness of God

This month marks 20 years since June 1997 when I quit running from the Lord… and He saved me!

So I would like to share 20 examples of His grace in my life:

  • In June 1997, I moved from a very small world of complete focus on Gabe, to start life with God. I was alone, since my former god took all my attention.
  1. The first thing I remember was that He provided 2 amazing roommates, Katrina and Jennifer, who loved Him but also couldn’t carry the weight of my dependency, so they sent me to the Bible for hope, peace, life, direction – EVERYTHING!
  2. Next, He took me to Aggie Sisters for Christ where I learned to study the Bible, be accountable to my Christian sisters, and met my wonderful friends Amy, Wendy, and Anne-Lauren.
  3. For my whole life, I had been drawn to multiple things that didn’t lead to point to a career or make sense to me… but after I met Christ, they made sense! He had created me with a love for the world, since this reflects His love for the Nations.
  4. Then, in 1998, Camp Barnabas came to Aggie Sisters for Christ to recruit volunteers to be one-on-one with individuals with various disabilities at camp. At this camp, God put me in a cabin with 10 girls with Down syndrome, and put His desire in my heart to have a daughter with Down syndrome.
  5. In 1999, He blessed me with going to Rajasthan, India with Caleb Project, where I learned by living with Helen, Tim, Heather, and Mark, who each followed Him with a different expression of faith and discipline.
  6. In 2000, He put Joel on my heart, even before I knew him, or knew that God was calling Joel to himself, and brought us together to be on mission for Him, with strengths that compliment and challenge each other.
  7. In 2001, He used my pregnancy with Arabella to humble the pride that developed over the years of Him letting me be part of His work.
  8. He used an irregular ultrasound to cause us to understand the grace and faith in Him it takes to have a child.
  9. He used the words of Nicole at the Mother Blessing to show us in advance what He would do later, just as with prophets in the Bible.
  10. He showed us the amazing gift of His Church as Ecclesia carried us through the days in the NICU after Arabella was born with a broken heart.
  11. He taught us to surrender our greatest possession back to Him when the doctors had to cut into our daughter 3 times in her first 6 months. And He let us keep her.
  12. He blessed us with knowing Camryn and experiencing the faith of Heidi and Stephen as God took her to His home.
  13. He miraculously brought Darin into our home, a precious present.
  14. He took us to Kaleo, used Bill to heal some brokenness in our marriage, and called Joel to plant The Basilica Community, where we experienced church in an amazing way.
  15. He provided my amazing job through volunteer at Star of Hope, who sent my resume to a friend, and then gave Angela the confidence to let me work from home, so I could invest in my kids while working full time. After 10 years, I still love this job!
  16. He took us to Maine… even as hard as it was, I can’t imagine life without going there and getting to know the Bells, the Desjardins, the Hutchins, and the Stewarts.
  17. He sold our house in Houston, bought in 2004, rented out from 2007-2014, just as we needed money to return to Texas and find new jobs.
  18. He provided Shae & Shelley to provide care for Darin so I could go to church.
  19. He provided a student ministry that has embraced Arabella & drawn her to the Lord.
  20. He gave me a patient, loving mother & a Christ-like father to help me through all these year!

The Lord is listening

The first story is of the last 2 weeks.


This Spring, I have really been hopeless. I know enough to know that I can’t hold together life without Jesus, and it has been a long 3 years of feeling far from Him. After I resigned from helping with Student Ministry Sunday school, then with Student Ministry small groups, I was really struggling to go to church at all. I’m not a great faker… so if I don’t feel it, I don’t do it. Unfortunately, since my Precept bible study ended in March, I haven’t been reading my Bible at all, or praying much either.

Several things got me thinking this month, though. In Sunday school, Chris Yee, brought up I Peter 1:7 “so that the genuineness of your faith–more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire–may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” and discussed how the refining of metals works to strengthen the metal. But I was thinking while he spoke “I don’t feel strengthened by the recent trials”, so I asked, “What happens to metal put into and out of the fire?” And he said, “They become brittle.” So I’ve been dwelling on this… how I feel so brittle and not refined… and why.

Then a progression of thing related to Student Ministry camp happened…

  • I was included in the “leadership” group for camp… I really just signed up so Arabella could go.
  • Then I was paired up with my sweet friend Mollie who has been taking walks with me that challenge me to walk with the Lord… and I became worried that my spiritual “brittleness” would affect her.
  • Then I went to the camp leadership meeting and really got anxious about helping lead, but at the same time, I saw the curriculum was really amazing.

Along side that, some other things happened…

  • A women’s stay-local retreat was planned for the weekend before camp
  • I didn’t think I wanted to go, and I also didn’t think I had time to go…
  • But Mollie mentioned there would be a game night during the retreat at the church… and I love games, so I considered just sneaking up to the church for the games.
  • But I also realized I probably needed the retreat to help me get ready to be a leader at camp… so I signed up (after the deadline)

The story

So this brings me to 2 weeks ago, June 7.

I had received a text that:

  1. The church was asking everyone to fast on June 7…
  2. Student Ministry was going to make waffles to serve the students who fasted that day at 8:20pm, after the worship gathering
  3. They needed adults to cook the pancakes.

So for a pretty unrighteous, but also desperate reason, I decided to fast on Wed June 7. I STINK at fasting… I usually get headaches, and distracted, and fail within an hour, and feel like the most undisciplined person ever.

But I left for work on Wednesday fasting – and begging God that He would understand I did not want this space between He and I anymore.

It was a very busy day for my work, and then the opportunity for my nephew, Cody, to join us at camp came up, with texts between my mom, my sister-in-law, the church, etc. making it impossible to keep my thoughts in order.

I felt like this was a perfect day to talk to God about how hard it is to focus on Him in the chaos that is my life, my parenting, my jobs, etc.

Nothing profound happened, but I was able to carve out a small time to study for camp, and felt like God was showing me good stuff in the Bible that made me want to read it more.

But by Friday June 9, the pressure of preparing for camp (spiritually and packing) made me feel like I didn’t have time to go to the women’s retreat. I was pretty sure that I would be sitting in my seat distracted and making a packing list. Out of desperation, I asked for prayer from the Facebook army of friends.

Yikes, those prayers worked.

From the 1st sentences by the speaker, Jackie Kendall, I felt like God was answering the questions I have had. As she shared her testimony, she talked about finding out immediately that she would starve if she didn’t feed on the Word of God… and about how many anorexic Christians she meets, who have nothing to say to each other during hard times since they do not know what His counsel would be.

Conviction #1: I need to be in the Word like when we were in ministry… and then I wouldn’t feel so disconnected from Him.

Then, Jackie’s 3 talks over Friday & Saturday covered:

  • Surrendering your “junior god” badge – why we are controlling as an outgrowth of our fear
    • Fear of things that might happen
    • Fear of being vulnerable
    • Fear of disappointing people
    • Fear of making wrong choices
  • Forgiving the Unforgivable
    • Excuses we use for not forgiving
      1. The offense was too great
      2. They keep repeating the offense
      3. We struggle with the memory of the offense
      4. We want people to pay or be punished before we forgive
      5. The person didn’t apologize
      6. We are too angry to consider forgiving
  • Whining and Snoopervising
    • Ways we try to BE God, imitating His characteristics
      1. Trying to be omnipresent
      2. Trying to be omnipotent
      3. Feeling personally responsible for happiness of children
      4. Trying to be omniscient
      5. Trying to be the shalom
    • Whining is the native tongue of the controller
    • Snoopervising – meddling instead of talking to the Father

Conviction #2: I have worked harder to come up with a “solution” to the place my family is in than I have begged God relentlessly to heal us.

Honestly, this was the first time I have been able to see what my sin would be in my current situation. I don’t have many “sins” that are purposeful wrong things (sins of commission) but I can now see these sins of omission – not doing what God has instructed me to do.

Thank you, Lord, for revealing You to me through Jackie!

This is the first time I have felt like myself in a long time.





As you have seen in my last 3 years of posts, this has been a rough period…

But I am here to say:

  1. Light has show into the darkness.
  2. This month, it has been 20 years since I met Jesus… which means that I have been in HIS ARMS over 1/2 of my life (I’ll be 40 yrs in August).