In the span of one week, I’ll have had four things happen that should throw me into a panic:

  1. My “check engine” light came on
  2. I’m about to get another year closer to 40
  3. I lost my job
  4. I lost my church

I think you can agree, based on the list above, it’s a pretty bad week. And you’d be right. I’m definitely not celebrating any of those things. But I’m also not panicking (well, maybe a little, just for a moment, about #2)…

  • Car trouble is inevitable, and I know that God always provides for my needs.  So when that light came on while I was driving down the interstate at 11:00 at night, I said a quick prayer that He would allow me to get home before the car actually stopped working, and then I thanked Him for how He was going to provide the money to get whatever the heck was wrong this time fixed.
  •  Birthdays are a big deal for most people.  But for a single, childless woman (who doesn’t want to be either of those things), they’re actually a ridiculously painful deal. But age is just a number, God has a plan for my life that may or may not still involve having my own family, and at the moment, there’s nothing I can do about it.  So I thank Him for another year of life, and move on.
  • The job loss was rough.  I’ll admit that.  It wasn’t my choice, it was unfair, and it was relatively sudden.  It meant leaving a job I have absolutely loved because of a decision someone else made on my behalf. But again, I know that God will provide for my needs, that He has my next step all worked out, and that when we’re both ready, He’ll tell me what it is.  Did I cry this week? Of course, but not for the reason you might think. I didn’t cry tears of anger, bitterness or even fear.  I cried tears of joy and tears flowing from a heart deeply touched as co-workers and friends heard the news and reached out to tell me how much I meant to them, that they were praying for me, and that they knew what I already knew – God is all over this! As each email and text came in, I thanked Him for allowing me the opportunity to serve Him with some amazing people who are changing the state and the world for Christ.
  • The hardest part of this, I think, is that I haven’t just lost my job, I’ve lost my church.  When you work for a church, it’s always a risk, and for me, what had once been my worst fear has come true.  Gratefully, I got to see and hug a whole bunch of people last Sunday, before I even knew it would be my last time worshipping with them.  I sat with friends (not always a given when you’re single) and worshipped the God who is unendingly faithful, who loves me, and who is holding me in the palm of His gentle hand. As I worshipped, I thanked Him for this place He allowed me to call home for two years.

While I didn’t see most of this coming, God did.  And He had been preparing me.

Over the last few months, God has done some good, hard, amazing work in my heart.  He has taught me the benefits of living in humble submission to Him, of making worship a constant in my day to day life, and of the truth of what it really means to trust Him. And even more, He’s taught me that in everything, I can (and should) thank Him.

The other day, I ran into a verse I had memorized about a year ago:

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 2.47.54 PM

As I meditated on this verse, God reminded me that in all things, I can trust Him. Then, he gave me this:






It may be cheesy, but it made me smile (and if you know me at all, you know cheesy doesn’t usually have that affect on me).

God, in His sovereignty has a plan for all of us.

In His sovereignty, He waits to show Himself faithful.

And what I’ve found as I’ve wandered, fought, skipped, dragged my feet, run, laughed and cried through these 30 some odd years on this earth, is that He waits to show Himself faithful until we are in the perfect place to have the best view possible. And for that, I thank Him!

How have you seen God prove Himself faithful this year?

I noticed something this morning that I’ve never seen before. What follows is my prayer in response to God’s kindness. I pray that you will be encouraged too…

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that at the proper time, He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties in him, because He cares for you. ~ 1 Peter 5:6-7 (ESV)

Father, I just noticed for the first time that this is all one sentence. It’s not 2 separate thoughts…

  • “Humble yourselves” – I’ve been asking You to humble me, keep me humble, etc., but I’m actually supposed to do that myself. I need to make the conscious choice, every moment of every day, to live humbly before You and the people You put in my path.
  • “under the mighty hand of God” – What other option is there, really, than to understand Your might and my frailty, and to therefore take on a position and posture of humility. To do or think anything else is to attempt to exalt myself above You, and…
  • “so that…He may exalt you”that’s Your job, not mine.
  • “at the proper time” – You, who are not bound by time, know the proper time for everything. And, You know my heart. You alone know when I have truly humbled myself before You, so You alone know when I am ready to handle being exalted by You, without being in danger of putting on even an ounce of pride.
  • “casting all your anxieties on Him”Anxiety is a type of pride. Pride, that most wily of sins, disguising itself in so many forms. When I am anxious, my focus is on me and my problems. But when I honestly and completely humble myself under Your mighty hand, I recognize that only You can do anything about what I’m choosing to be anxious about. It’s all about You and Your glory, not mine, and this is…
  • “because He cares for you.” – It is Your love, kindness, and gentle care for me that begs me to trust You. It’s Your care that assures me that I can trust You.

Father, You care for me, You know what’s best for me, so I don’t have to be anxious about anything. Anxiety and humility can not coexist. You invite me to humility.  Saying “yes” to Your invitation frees me from fear, and puts me exactly where You want me to be – in the care of Your mighty hand.

Oh Lord, Your wisdom leaves me in awe! Thank You!

I lay on the couch, snuggled under a quilt, listening to the wind and playing a game on my Kindle to pass the time before I had to get ready for the party. The party I didn’t really want to go to, but knew I should. (It’s always the same story with me – I want to be invited, but I never want to go. Ah, the life of the socially anxious introvert…)

Just laying there, moving jewels around on the screen, crushing rocks, vaguely thinking about the party, listening to the wind. The very picture of peace and contentment…

Then, “It would just be easier if you were dead”.

Ah, my old friend. You’ve returned after a bit of a hiatus. Haven’t heard from you in a while. Can’t say I’ve missed you…

(Now before you go calling the authorities on me, allow me a moment to explain. Yes, I am clinically depressed, and yes, I do have suicidal thoughts with frightening regularity. But no, I am not suicidal per se. Thoughts only, not actions. I promise. Oh, and my counselor says I’ll be fine.)

I’ve heard that voice and that sentence more times than I can count. I still remember the first time I heard it. I was six. It floats in when I least expect it, when my defenses are down, drops the bomb, and floats out again. And since my defenses were definitely down in that moment, I’m not surprised it showed up.

But this time, it’s different. I’m different. This time, while I can’t say I was ready and waiting for the attack, I was at least prepared to respond.

“God,” I asked, “why does the Enemy want to destroy me?” It wasn’t an angry question, or even a fearful one. It was just a matter-of-fact, almost conversational question. I had no doubts about where the voice was coming from. In fact, God and I had been talking about it just a few hours earlier. And that right there was what made me different…



After finally succumbing to some nudging on the Holy Spirit’s part, January has been all about spiritual disciplines for me. Regular times of prayer, purposeful Bible reading, and saturating my heart and mind with good teaching have been my habits. Frequent conversations with God about whatever happens to be on my mind have also become habit again.

And these new habits allowed me to bring this latest development up with my Father right away. My Father who is for me. My Father who loves me. My Father who is listening for me to call His name. My Father who had been forming my habits and preparing my heart for this moment. My Father who I had just told I didn’t want to go to the party.

The answer came quickly and quietly, and it wasn’t particularly earth-shattering: “Think about what you’re doing. You’re helping kids get to know Jesus. Of course the Enemy wants to destroy you.”



It’s a reality I’ve come to understand with greater clarity over the last year: ministry is dangerous work. Sure, I get to go to work with some of my favorite people everyday, wear jeans and comfy sweatshirts and have meetings on couches. But I know that underneath all of that ease are landmines and a sniper’s rifle aimed right at my heart every moment of the day. (Dramatic much? Eh, maybe a little, but there’s a reason we’re told to put on the full armor of God, ya know?)

And anyone who decides, regardless of job title or position, to work for God, lives the same dangerous life day in and day out. Anyone, in any career, who has come to understand that the work she does, she does for God and God alone, ends up on the same spiritual frontline. Right there, in the Enemy’s crosshairs. An easy target.

But there is a beautiful, thrilling truth that renders the Enemy’s weapons useless and makes this work we do awesome: In Christ, the victory has already been won. Shots fired in our direction may wound from time to time, there’s no doubt about that, but they cannot ever destroy. We belong to the victorious Lamb and He has called us to work for Him!



So I agreed with God that yes, what I’m doing probably does make me an attractive target, and I settled back in with my game. But He wasn’t finished with the conversation just yet. I felt another little Holy Spirit nudge, this one about how I’ve been spending my time. I sighed and closed the game. Mindless entertainment was risky for me right then, and although it was enjoyable, I knew I needed to go do something productive. Eat dinner, write, clean my room (nah, not that ;) ), something other than allowing my mind to wander off its spiritual leash.

And thus I’ve stumbled onto February’s assignment: Practice being intentional with my time.

Oh Father, you do make me smile…


What has God been nudging you about lately?

A few years ago, I ran into the idea of picking a word to define my hopes, dreams, and goals for the year. The word is a picture of where I would like to be in 365ish days.  Sometimes it’s an action I want to take. Sometimes it’s a quality I want to embody. Sometimes it’s a goal I want to work toward. Whatever it is, it usually means I have some work to do.

This past weekend, some of my coworkers and I took 24 hours away from the frantic pace of ministry to seek God before starting in on a new year.  We spent time in corporate prayer, in solitude and silence, and in listening.  (For the record, I’ve decided this really needs to be an annual thing…)

I found this little chapel tucked away in the corner of the retreat center. The colors and the quiet took my breath away.

I found this little chapel tucked away in the corner of the retreat center. The colors and the quiet took my breath away.

Part of the weekend involved sitting quietly with God and asking Him what HE wants for us this year.  After a while, we came back together as a group and shared with each other our Word for 2015.

As someone who spends most of her time and energy trying to prove her worth, earn her place and just generally living the workaholic lifestyle (am I alone here? Yeah, didn’t think so.), the word God picked out for me was a little confusing.  My first thought was, “Well, sure, but how do I do that?” My second thought was, “But wait, that’s not measurable! How will I know I’ve succeeded?

God interrupted my third thought with a thought of His own: “That, my dear, overachieving child, is the point.


Got it.

I think.

You see, for the first time since I started this annual exercise, the word God gave me was not a word I could act on, quantify, or strive for.  This year, there will be no doing, only being.  What’s my word?


The sun shining against the windows created the most beautiful abstract art I've ever seen.

The sun shining against the windows created the most beautiful abstract art I’ve ever seen.

For someone who constantly thinks she needs to earn and prove and strive and convince, grace is confounding.  Grace can not be earned. Grace can not be taken ahold of. Grace can not be checked off of a list.

Grace is freely given from a Father who loves us more than we can even begin to imagine. Grace is poured out on us in such quantity that no human soul can contain it.

And grace, for people like me, is hard to accept.

But this year, I am asking my Father to help me understand how much I’m loved and treasured by Him, and to give me the will, the humility and the wisdom to accept the gift He has been holding out to me since before I was born. Because at the end of the year, I want to be someone who not only accepts God’s grace toward me, but who is fluent in extending His grace to myself, and to others.

There’s really no way to chart that. No graph can adequately depict when one has learned to live under grace.

And that, dear overachiever, is the point.

What’s your word this year? What challenges and opportunities does your word create for you?

My heart is so broken right now. Yes, for the loss of my friend, but really for the loss of your friend. You guys should not have to feel this pain. It’s a reminder that all is not right in this world. That sin has ruined everything. My heart breaks when I think of the Jonny-shaped hole that has been left in your group. It’s a hole that no one else will ever be able to fill, and I’m sorry it’s there. It’s not right.

I can only imagine what each of you is thinking and feeling right now, so let’s talk about it for a minute, ok? There are some things I want you to know…

  1. It’s ok to be sad. It should go without saying, but there will be those who will try to tell you that because Jonny is with Jesus, you should be happy for him, and you should be happy that you’ll see him again. While this is true, in the meantime, go ahead and be sad. It’s ok.
  2. It’s ok to be angry. Someday soon, you’re going to wake up and you’re going to be really angry. Angry at Jonny for being somewhere he shouldn’t have been. Angry at God for ordaining that particular day in his life, and really, in all of our lives. Anger isn’t a sin. If we’re not careful, it can lead to sin as we saw sometimes in Jonny’s own life, but in and of itself, it’s ok to be angry.
  3. It’s ok to doubt. Part of growing up in our faith is that flipside of doubt. For some of you, what happened this week will make you doubt God’s love, God’s faithfulness, God’s kindness, God’s care and compassion for you. It’s ok to doubt, but talk about it together. Don’t hold it in and let it fester. “It’s not doubt that’s toxic, it’s unexpressed doubt that’s toxic.” ~ Cari Powell So if you have doubts, talk about them, work them out. It’s ok.
  4. It’s ok to laugh. This weekend, we’re going to tell our stories, probably around a fire in the Rowley’s back yard. And let’s be honest, with Jonny as the main character, those stories are going to be hilarious! So in the midst of our grief, we’ll laugh, probably a lot, and it will be perfectly ok.

I can’t wait to be with you this weekend. To listen to you, to love on you, to hug you (sorry, Riley, it’s going to happen…), to cry with you. But more than anything, I can’t wait to worship with you. Worship was Jonny’s heartbeat, and it’s going to be awesome! The first time I laid eyes on any of you, that’s exactly what you were doing, and in all the time I’ve known you, it’s what you’ve always done, in spite of some interesting odds.

You guys really are something special. I’ve never seen a group of high school and college “kids” who love Jesus the way you do,

Jonny Big Haus Kahuna Gregoire, Captain of the Football Team, Player of Guitar, Owner of a Pool February 8, 1993 - November 8, 2014 Philippians 1:21

Jonny Big Hoss Kahuna Gregoire, Captain of the Football Team, Player of Guitar, Owner of a Pool
February 8, 1993 – November 8, 2014
Philippians 1:21

who worship Jesus the way you do, and who love each other the way you do. Seriously, I’m in absolute awe of you.

Josh, JD and Nick, you guys have been the public face of our private grief this week, and I am so proud of you. The maturity and composure you’ve shown, but even more, the way you’ve pointed people to Jesus, is a testimony of the faith you’ve all cultivated together over these last few years. Thank you for doing the hard things, thank you for working out your salvation and for helping the next generation at Bethlehem see what that really looks like.

To the rest of you, the things you’ve written on Facebook this week have been so powerful and beautiful. They reveal your hearts for Jonny, yes, but also for God. Every last one of you has made sure that in honoring your friend, you pointed people straight at the Gospel. Jonny spent the last year of his life doing that – thank you for carrying on his legacy.

So with all of that said, I will see you soon. It’s going to be an incredibly hard weekend, but it’s going to be a weekend none of us will ever forget. There will be Chick-fil-A, and fires, and 4th Meals, and Arizonas and of course, Wiffleball in a stadium I strongly suspect will be rechristened with a new name. It will be hard, but it will be good. Jonny will be honored and Christ will be glorified – exactly the way it should be! Love you all!

By His hand we stand in victory. By His name we overcome.


For months, it’s gotten harder and harder to pray, to worship, and even to sit through an entire church service. Fear, discouragement, guilt, feelings of worthlessness… Instead of songs of praise or prayers for help, these were my song, these were the thoughts I rehearsed.

I knew why. I knew exactly why, but I felt powerless to fight against it. I was exhausted. I felt completely alone. And no one can fight a battle exhausted and alone. So I gave in and let these evils wash over me like a hurricane-driven wave. And in doing so, I ended up exactly where Satan wanted me: Powerless, crushed, silent.

At a time when I needed to rely on and worship God the most, at a time when we were in the midst of building a new ministry at work and my pastors were preparing for a couple of pretty powerful series, I had willingly surrendered to all the wrong things. I handed myself over, not to the will and direction of my God who speaks Truth, but to the will and direction of the one who only speaks lies.

While I should have been gearing up for battle months ago, I was working too hard, not resting, really at all, and not dedicating myself to prayer, worship, Scripture or daily examination. I was completely undisciplined in the spiritual disciplines I knew I needed. I let my guard down. I invited my Enemy to walk right in, and he happily obliged.

So as usually happens in these cases, I had a little bit of a breakdown this week. I blamed it on things happening with my job, but the truth is that those things were merely the symptoms of the infection I’d allowed to fester. It was no one’s fault but mine, and I knew it, but God is unendingly faithful, gracious and merciful. I never should have allowed myself to get so run down and far away from my Lifeline, but when I did, He provided exactly the weapon I needed to begin to fight my way back.

After some chats with some people who, it turns out, care about me a whole lot more than I’ve ever given them credit for, I’ve spent some time today doing some spiritual surgery, immersing myself in confession, writing, and for the first time in a long time, in worship.

Through worship, I’ve begun to speak truths to my heart that it’s been unwilling to hear or accept:

  • In Christ I have victory over fear, insecurity, discouragement, guilt, and feelings of worthlessness.
  • God really does love me.
  • I do matter, and in Christ I have purpose, meaning and a calling for which He specifically equips me every day.
  • The promises found in God’s word aren’t just for other people – they’re for me too.

Worship is a powerful weapon. It’s light and easy to wield. It’s readily available anytime – day, night, at home, at work, in the car, at the gym. It takes many forms, whether songs, psalms, prayers, art, dance, or even just silent awe. We often think of worship as our gift to God, but really, it’s one of His greatest gifts to us.

So, how about taking a few minutes to worship? :)

do overI got to have a surprise lunch with my mother today. And it was nice. Really nice. We ate in a really cool old tavern with really good food just a mile and a half from our house. It’s been on the same corner in the same small town for over 200 years. I’ve been there once, just a few weeks ago, and she’s never been.  (That has me thinking about all the things around me that have been there forever, but which I’ve never enjoyed. Although that’s probably a post for a different day.)

We had a great conversation and got to talking about the fact that I’m unemployed. Again.  She sweetly pointed out, as only a mother can, that I’ve been here before. This is not my first time at the Unemployment Rodeo. She’s right. And she’s wrong. Yes, I have a Last Time, but I also have a This Time.

Last Time was hard. Last Time was incredibly painful. Last Time was terrifying. And Last Time, it was all my fault.

Last Time, I was angry, bitter, resentful and just generally miserable.  But that was Last Time.

This Time is different.

On Tuesday afternoon, I was introduced to this prayer.  The first time I read it, I had no words to describe how it impacted me.  It’s so comprehensive. It’s so powerful. It’s so scary. (What if God answered every part of this prayer every day I prayed it? Would I even be able to handle the things He did in my life? Mind blowing!)

As I started to work through this prayer this morning, I didn’t get far. The second sentence says this:

I honor you as my sovereign Lord, and I surrender every aspect of my life totally and completely to you.

That stopped me in my tracks. I sat there at the kitchen counter for a very long time mulling over those words.  I thought about everything I’ve been reading lately about the sovereignty of God (I’m on a bit of a Calvinist kick at the moment). The words of Piper, Pink, Edwards, and Stedman floated around in my head.

Do I believe God is sovereign? Do I believe He has ordained each of my days?

And if I do believe that, have I surrendered every aspect of my life totally and completely to Him? Because if I believe He is sovereign, and I haven’t surrendered to Him, I’m fighting against an unbeatable force.

Then I started thinking about Last Time and This Time and how they are so very different.  Unlike Last Time, This Time, as I wait for God to work out details, make decisions clear and move a mountain or two, I’m at peace.

This Time, I have chosen to trust in God’s goodness no matter how long it lasts, or what the outcome ends up being.

This Time, I’m taking regular time to rest because I recognize how exhausting this journey is and will continue to be until it ends.

This Time, I’m using my time wisely – serving others, studying Scripture very deeply, working on some new friendships.

This Time I’m happy.  This Time, I’m able to rejoice in the Lord (most of the time – hey, I’m still human…).

It has been said that we often repeat experiences because God is giving us the chance to do it right. True or not, it kind Do over 2of makes sense.  God sometimes uses trials to sanctify us, to help us grow, and to make us more like Christ. If, as we’re going through a trial we instead become angry, bitter and resentful, it would make sense that God would graciously let us try again. After all, He’s all about His glory, and anger, bitterness and resentment do not bring Him glory (shocking, I know).

The mercy and grace of God allows do-overs. The mercy and grace of God ordains do-overs. Because God loves us and wants us to be more and more like His Son, He gives us opportunities to move toward that goal. If we mess up and move in the wrong direction, because He is merciful and gracious, He lets us try again.

When we find ourselves faced with the same types of difficult circumstances over and over again, it can feel like God is picking on us. But what if He was using those do-overs to bring us to a place of joyful, complete and total surrender to Him and His will? What if those do-overs are a manifestation of His love and care for us?

How would we look at our trials differently if we truly believed that God is sovereign, that He loves us and that He only wants what’s best for us? Would we see do-overs as a chance to trust Him more?

That’s the approach I’m choosing to take This Time. How about you?

[Sidenote: This post reminds me of one of my least favorite movies and I find that pretty hilarious. : ) ]


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