Hope for the New Year: The people living in darkness have seen a great light

Some might notice I don’t write so much anymore or at least it’s taken a gradual down turn. I’d love to say that it’s just from my life being so full and busy (which it is), but the biggest reason for my lack of words is darkness. I’ve been in the darkest place of my life so far the last two years. I’ve suffered a lot of emotional and mental pain. Trauma, emotional distress, depression, anxiety, dissociation, despair, hopelessness, loneliness and feelings of isolation. There are reasons for this suffering, but I won’t be revealing the circumstances for now.

But let me tell you what the Lord has done heading into this new year.

I’d love to say my circumstances have completely changed, and that my sorrow is ended. That’s not happening as of right now, though I don’t want to give up hope. Instead the Lord has done a great work in my heart. There are times when I felt his silence, but I have experienced in new and deeper ways his loving shepherd care for me. I don’t just have theological beliefs of joy in the midst of suffering, comfort from him in sorrow, his support and care for the broken hearted and crushed in spirit, but I’ve finally felt it and experienced it personally. When I was at my lowest, people would suddenly be contacting me telling me the Lord was putting me on their hearts and they were praying for me.

One powerful instance of God answering prayer quickly was when I was feeling lonely, and I was telling the Lord that I was all alone and had no one to comfort me. I felt that still small voice speak to me, “But I’m here, Liz.” Learning from David in the Psalms (really even how Moses communicated with God) and learning how to lament, I pushed back: “I know, Lord, but you know I don’t have your bodily presence here with me and humans need your physical agents of comfort as well.” An hour or so later a friend I hadn’t talked to in awhile randomly texted me to see how I was doing. She told me she had been thinking about me and praying. The tears streamed down my face as I experienced the care and comfort of a real God. A God who sees the suffering of his people in a broken world and acts in real time for them. He is real and he is good. Though the desert is all around me and the trees are barren of fruit I don’t just theologically know God is good, but I feel that he’s good deep down in my bones. I feel that he is truly there for me all the time, especially when I’m weak and hurting.

The tough part of experiencing deep suffering is the weakness it brings. If we aren’t careful it can corrupt our hearts. I recently realized I didn’t like the person I was becoming: hateful, bitter, and resentful. I had let the darkness around me invade my heart and let it slowly poison my mind. I had not been guarding my heart where the well springs of life are, instead hope deferred had made my heart sick. I knew I needed to get help for myself and change. “The people in darkness have seen a great light”. The darkness of my circumstances haven’t changed, but I’ve made it my aim to still be a person of the light in my present darkness. And it began with God himself handing me the light of hope. His hope. The kind of hope that sees what we can’t see right now.

Isaiah 35:3-4 says, “Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees. Tell fearful souls, “Courage! Take heart! God is here, right here, on his way to put things right and redress all wrongs. He’s on his way! He’ll save you!” I had a recent experience where it almost felt like God had sent his ministering angels to straighten my drooping shoulders and strengthen my weak knees, so I could continue to stand. It was as if a surge of power was infused in me, I felt my fighting spirit return, and I began to feel like I had words to say now. I experienced a bubbling up of real joy in my spirit. I had always heard of Christians who experienced deep suffering and yet said they experienced joy in the midst of it. Now I felt that I had finally experienced this fully for myself, and that what they say is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit. The joy of the Lord is my strength. It’s clear though that it’s of him and his doing.

For those who have been watching the latest Star Wars series, Andor, the prison escape was powerful for me. I felt like those men when they realized the lies of the enemy (the Empire). Lies that promised them freedom someday. But when the men realized the truth, that they were never letting them out, they immediately responded with determination, resolve, and revolution. They were done. They would get their freedom on their own and not subject themselves to the oppression of the Empire. Eventually more people in the galaxy began to see the darkness of the Empire encroaching on their lives. This realization didn’t make them passively despair, but be alert, watchful, sober-minded, self-controlled, and actively fight.

God calls us to fight against the Empire; outside of us and inside of us. There are forces of darkness at work in this world from the beginning of time, in our present age, and for how long forward none of us knows. But we are always called to fight with God and his forces of light, forces from the beginning of time, and established in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, that are at work even now renewing this world and renewing our hearts and minds. In this way we are a people called to the paradox of always sorrowing and always rejoicing. And this is what I will fight for in my own life. I will fight to stay in this tension.


Why I’m Not a Complementarian Anymore

Kids who grew up in the church are all deconstructing in one way or another. Not because there is something wrong with the Sunday School answers we gave of Jesus, God, and the Bible. But because there is something wrong with evangelicalism and church culture. I grew up in what I would call a hyper-complementarian church. My closest family is complementarian. It’s how I grew up. Many of the girls I saw growing up in that church didn’t go to college, but got a job and waited for a husband as they prepared for marriage and motherhood. Of course women have the freedom to not go to college, but the message received was, “why go to college and pursue a career if you only want to be a wife and mother?” or “the highest calling is to be a wife and mother, so why should a girl go to college?” The main point is that girls in my church were indirectly being told that a woman’s place is in the home as a wife and mother, and that her value was tied up in a man, without offering any other scenarios away from this pattern. I tried my best to sort through these unhealthy (and unbiblical) messages as a young single woman and fight them on my own. 

Though I did try my best to sort through and process these subliminal messages, I wasn’t prepared for how the errant messages I received (rooted in complementarianism) would serve to hinder me as a woman in my particular marriage. I entered marriage with man-centered messages I received growing up: please your husband (and yes, this also means sexually), serve your husband, sacrifice your life for your husband, look good for your husband, basically just revolve your whole life around him. Some of these are not bad messages in and of themselves (of course we want to serve our husbands and please them to a healthy extent), but if the woman is the only one doing these things then something is very wrong with the marriage. I was primed for submission, but what I needed was to learn assertiveness and boundaries. 

The messages I received about myself as a woman, about men, and marriage were not right and eventually proved damaging to me. I know this is not everyone’s experience with complementarian beliefs, but it’s mine. And the last six years I’ve been unpeeling, questioning, and searching for what I believe about men and women, marriage, and gender roles. I’ve been reading a lot, and one recent book I found helpful was by Michelle Lee-Barnewall called, Neither Complementarian Nor Egalitarian: A Kingdom Corrective to the Evangelical Gender Debate. If you are just beginning to question your stance, this is a great place to start. She doesn’t answer any of the hot button questions everyone wants answered from the Bible like, who gets to make the decisions in marriage? Can women preach? Are men supposed to lead and have authority? But Barnewall does offer some great questions for both sides of the debate and some different frameworks to start from. 

I feel like she does a good job staying objective and not favoring either side. She’s not saying which stance is correct, but she is trying to provide a new way forward where we can reconfigure the issue altogether. 

She says this, “Like many of the people with whom I have spoken, whether professors, pastors, or laypeople, I have come to believe that the topic cannot be completely defined by either the complementarian or egalitarian viewpoint, and that there is room, perhaps even a necessity, for an alternative way of conceptualizing gender issues.” 

Basically, Barnewall is saying we don’t have to choose from only two positions, it doesn’t have to be so polarizing, and not all of life is made up of either/or decisions. Maybe authority and equality aren’t the right categories to begin from, but love, unity, and holiness. Barnewall says, 

“Gender relates to love and unity between husbands and wives, among the many members of the body, and ultimately between Christ and his bride.” 

Both sides are also coming from an individualistic viewpoint (hence authority and equality terms being used), but Barnewall reframes the issues of gender from a community standpoint as the truer focus of God’s Kingdom (hence the more communal words of love and unity). 

It’s also important to understand how we’re part of an upside down kingdom where the last is first, the greatest least, and the weak are strong. This type of reversal of the ways of the world is clear throughout Scripture and should help us navigate the ideas of authority and equality. Barnewall also addresses the “softening” that complementarians have taken with their stance by using the term servant leadership for men. She makes it clear from Scripture that it should not be just a modifier of the word leadership, but the place that leadership is based in and grown out of. I really appreciated that part. It’s one thing if a man is a leader and just tries to tack on the servant part, but it’s a whole other person who starts as a lowly humble servant. Robert Greenleaf, a Quaker, is actually the one who originated the term “servant leadership”. He describes the different dynamics of each:

“The natural servant, the person who is servant first, is more likely to persevere and refine a particular hypothesis on what serves another’s highest priority needs than is the person who is leader first and who later serves out of promptings of conscience or in conformity with normative expectations.”

This book by Barnewall is more of an academic read than a Christian Living book. She does a great job laying out gender in evangelical history, then she goes into reframing gender according to Kingdom themes. She then addresses and critiques (rethinks) equality and rights in ministry and marriage (egalitarian), and then she does the same for authority and leadership in ministry (complementarian). She also dives into these ideas in the context of marriage from Genesis 2-3 and Ephesians 5. 

Wherever you land in the debate, I hope you pick up this book and keep an open mind. If you don’t find your home on either side and want to stay away from the labels (like me) this is one hundred percent the book for you. The third way Barnewall proposes is a bit more ambiguous than the hard stances we see, but I think she leaves it with us to answer the questions she proposes and flesh it out in community. The kingdom themes of inclusivity and unity are beautiful, and what I believe God truly wants for the Church. 

God Sees: For the Broken, Oppressed, and the Victim

We live in the city, and we see many homeless people with signs on the road and on the sidewalk downtown. My kids see them, but it wasn’t until last year that my oldest son said something. He began by asking me questions, like who’s helping them? And what can we do? So, we joined up with a group from our local church and went to a homeless shelter to serve up food we brought and ate together (pre-COVID, so we only had a chance to do this one time). But this year my son brought it up again and said he wants to help the homeless and the poor. So, we’re looking into what we can do this year to help them. My son also had the idea to keep his coin purse in the car to hand out money at times when we’re driving. 

My son sees. He doesn’t close his eyes in deliberate ignorance, but he opens them wide in love and care and moves forward in compassion. My son sees the hurting in our city. He sees how God sees. 

My boys and I have started reading the book of Exodus together, and we’ve read about the suffering of the Israelites under the Egyptian Pharaoh. In a time when God’s people were slaves and suffering under infant male genocide the Bible says this, “God saw the people of Israel — and God knew” (Ex. 2:25). God moved towards his people in compassion when he called to Moses from a burning bush and said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings” (Ex. 3:7). 

God sees. 

Jacob loved Rachel more than her sister Leah. Leah was mistreated by her sister, and despised and rejected by her husband. Yet, “When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren” (Gen. 29:31). God saw Leah even when her husband did not. And it was through Leah’s womb that the line of Jesus came through, not Rachel’s. Our God sees the despised and rejected and moves toward them; he even chooses them and raises them up for great purposes. 

Another woman from the Old Testament (one who is not technically one of God’s people, the Israelites), whom God saw in her suffering, was Hagar. Sarah could not bear Abraham children and, instead of waiting longer on the promises of God, they took matters into their own hands. Sarah gave her Egyptian slave girl, Hagar, to Abraham as a surrogate. The Bible then goes on to say that Sarah mistreats Hagar, so Hagar runs away. God stops Hagar and says he has heard of her misery and he promises to take care of her. Then it says this in Genesis 16:13:

“She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’”

God saw Hagar first and then she saw him. 

We serve a God who sees. He sees us right where we are: In our desperation, our affliction, our pain, and distress. He sees us in our trauma and in the aftermath of it. Though it might feel to us that he hides his face, “The eyes of the Lord run and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him” (2 Chron. 16:9). 

Jacob was chosen by God and yet God also saw a woman who was victimized by his sin and he chose her too. Sarah was chosen by God to bear the promised child for Abraham, but God did not overlook another woman who was a victim of Sarah’s sin. He is a defender of the weak and he always sees mistreatment. The Psalmist says,

“Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.

Do not forget the helpless.

Why does the wicked man revile God?

    Why does he say to himself,

    “He won’t call me to account”?

But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;

    you consider their grief and take it in hand.

The victims commit themselves to you;

    you are the helper of the fatherless.

You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;

    you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, 

defending the fatherless and the oppressed,

    so that mere earthly mortals

    will never again strike terror.”

(Ps. 10:12-14, 17-18)

It’s clear in Exodus, as God demonstrates his power through signs and wonders in Egypt, that he uses his power on behalf of the weak and the oppressed. He works for the victims. He is the God who sees, who hears, and who acts. He sees the poor and the homeless just as my son does. My son’s heartbeat for them is the same heartbeat of God’s. My son doesn’t look the other way, he looks straight at brokenness and is moved by it. God sees and is moved as well.

Mothering at the End of Me

I entered motherhood with certain expectations. I thought I would be happier than I was, and I thought mothering would come more naturally and easily. I still loved being a mom, but I could tell God was using motherhood to change me — and sometimes that change was painful. Sometimes I came to the end of myself.

When I first had children, I heaped unnecessary burdens on myself, buying the lie that I had to do it all and be it all (and all the time). In my pride and guilt, I didn’t want to ask for help. God used the challenges of motherhood to expose my self-sufficiency in motherhood. The more children I had, and the more difficult behaviors that surfaced in them, I had a harder time keeping my mask of strength from falling off. This was part of God’s loving design for me (and for all mothers).

Part of our calling as moms is to embrace our dependence on God — to accept and admit our weaknesses and to lean into our human limitations with his help. Our weaknesses are where Christ meets us with even greater grace, power, and strength. We find true strength, as the apostle Paul says, when we are weak (2 Corinthians 12:10). A mother’s only hope is in a Savior who will be enough for us when we don’t feel like enough.

Read the rest at Desiring God >>

When Trust God isn’t Enough: Childhood Anxiety

A flag went up in my head when I first noticed the anxious behavior of my two year old son. My husband and I prayed regularly with him concerning his fear and anxiety and taught him appropriate biblical truths and verses. But as time went on, I began to feel at a loss as a parent in the face of his anxious behavior. 

So, I asked professionals for help. A behavioral scientist diagnosed him with separation anxiety and social anxiety the summer of 2019, and a few months later we began Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This assistance gave me practical tools to help my son walk through his anxiety, and it helped him be more brave and face some of his fears. 

Though his anxiety is unrelated to COVID, I’m sure many children during this pandemic have experienced fear and anxiety on some level — their typical way of life abruptly disrupted and the future uncertain. Many of the lessons I’m learning in my son’s struggle with anxiety can apply to children struggling with COVID. I’m no expert at offering advice in this arena, but I am a mom willing to share what I’ve learned so far. 

  1. Engage the Emotions

Everyone, even with good intentions, can make mistakes. One that Christians often make, when it comes to fear and anxiety, is to give trite answers: “Trust God,” or “Don’t worry.” Of course, these statements are true, but can feel dismissive of real human emotion, and at times used as a way to avoid dealing with underlying issues. Most Christians are rightly concerned with the idea of truth informing our emotions, but we don’t always have to jump to the “truth part” right away. First, we should acknowledge, validate, and engage the emotions. 

I try my best to acknowledge my son’s feelings of anxiety, then validate his feelings as real. When I try to engage my son’s emotions it’s typically in the form of questions, probing to figure out why he might be feeling this way and how it feels for him. This takes time. Sometimes, it doesn’t work to do all this in the moment of anxiety, but to wait and talk about it later.

If we can get our kids talking about their feelings, it will help them grow into emotionally mature adults who can cope with life in healthy ways. It will help strengthen their honesty and vulnerability with us, thereby creating a close relationship between parent and child, and all of this will connect in their relationship with God as they learn to identify their struggles and bring them to him. Lastly, engaging our children’s emotions will help them grow in compassion and empathy for others. They will learn to truly love their neighbor. 

  1. Truth Telling

Fear and anxiety is often based on countless lies, which requires the need for speaking truth to those suffering with anxiety. But let’s also keep in mind that though there is a spiritual element at hand in anxiety, for many, it’s also mental and physical. We know the truth of scripture is powerful for our children, but truth telling can also look like rationalizing with our children in practical ways.

Recently, my son started exhibiting certain behaviors associated with his separation anxiety again. If he doesn’t see me for a minute, I hear a loud, “Mom?!” and sometimes the running of feet as he tries to find me. I eventually brought his actions to his attention, and I asked him to try something next time he doesn’t see me. I told him to stop and think first before he yells for me and tries to find me. 

“Think about the usual places I go to in the house when you don’t see me: the laundry room, the bathroom, upstairs to grab something quickly. Then just wait a little longer until you see me again.”

Instead of jumping to conclusions or assuming the worst (which we’ve talked about in therapy), he’s learning to exercise self-control and speak truth or reality into his fears. Children (and adults) need to not only speak the truth of God’s Word into their fears, they also need to train themselves to speak practical, rational truths to themselves. 

  1. Comfort, Compassion, and Patience

Being a mom of a child who suffers with chronic anxiety, I am still learning patience, compassion, and comfort. The story of God’s interactions with Gideon in the book of Judges has helped me see how I need to grow in my interactions with my son. When God calls Gideon to be Israel’s next judge and deliverer, God greets Gideon as a “mighty man of valor” (Judg. 6:12). But what we continually see of this man is fear and anxiety. 

Gideon lists some excuses for why he can’t save Israel (Judg. 6:15), and even though God answers, “I’ll be with you,” Gideon then asks for a sign (Judg. 6:17). Once the sign confirms who this strange visitor is, Gideon finally believes, but then responds in fear (Judg. 6:25-27). The most remembered part of Gideon’s story is when he asks for the two signs from God with the fleece of wool (Judg. 6:36–40). Gideon is still not confident that God will use him to save Israel from the Midianites, so he needs tangible signs to prove God will do what he says.

God never calls out Gideon and says, “You need another sign? What’s wrong with you? Haven’t you learned yet? Don’t you know who I am?” Instead, he walks beside Gideon and shapes him into the mighty man of valor that he has declared him to be. He was patient with his need for signs, which brought Gideon comfort and reassurance. He gave Gideon the signs, even though He didn’t need to. 

The phrase, “Do not fear” is repeated over and over in the Bible, because God knows fear is a natural part of our lives, until he makes a new world without the curse of fear in it. One day, we will be free of fear. One day, my son will be free of fear. Until then, I join in God’s work of making him a mighty man of valor. 

3 Ways Motherhood Can Make You More Like Christ

My husband and I have had a tough year as parents—as I’m sure many other parents have too. Our two year old started to show more of her personality, which kept us all on our toes. Our middle son began displaying a new level of misbehavior that stopped my husband and I in our tracks and, at points, left us broken down in tears. The dynamic between all three of our children took a new turn we weren’t prepared for. And on top of that, COVID and the related restrictions brought an extra layer of stress. All of this has created new areas of tension in our marriage that we’re still trying to sort through.

I share this to underline that although I wrote a book on motherhood, I’m still very much living out the challenges and joys described within its pages. This is real life, and it’s the perfect place for our Savior to meet us and help us. The struggles of motherhood are fertile ground for the Holy Spirit to make us more like Christ. Here are just three ways he is so often at work in the hearts of moms.

Read the three ways here >>

Having A Realistic Perspective Of Marriage In The Church

Growing up in the Church I’ve always felt like marriage was mostly viewed through the lens of roles: the husband leads and the wife submits. A lot of times I would see the beautiful picture of Christ and his bride, the Church, being like marriage. These ideas are found in the pages of Scripture, and I’m not coming against them, but I do feel the need to shift the focus off of these idealized views that are overly promoted in the Church. Focusing too much on the picture of Christ and the Church, and roles in marriage, disregards the large number of marriages that are in pain.

I’ll never forget the older married lady in my church (whose husband didn’t come to Church with her) who reached out to me when she heard my marriage was struggling. We met up at Starbucks and she told me about the pain in her marriage. She shared her story with me about how she stayed married to her unbelieving husband, and how she had to cling to Christ as her spiritual husband. “I realized I had to push more into my relationship with Jesus.” These were words of wisdom from an older married woman who knew suffering. She saw that I was hurting and reached out to me. This is a beautiful picture of honoring marriage in the Church.

God’s Faithfulness When We Are Faithless

When God made his covenant with Noah, and then Abraham, and so on, he knew they would break it. God knew his people would continually break the covenant. But God remained true to himself and was faithful; so much so that he died in order to keep the covenant. He held up his end of the bargain well, and us, well, not so much. In the covenant of marriage both parties are faithless sinners, but we can honor marriage by looking to the faithful One who will help us stay faithful in the marriage covenant. We can look to his faithfulness even when we are faithless (or our spouse is faithless) and remember that God’s faithfulness now covers us (and our spouse) through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He has atoned for our faithlessness in marriage. Even when we fail in marriage, we can bring it to Christ and our spouse, and rely on the Spirit to help us in our weakness.

Marriage can be a place of happiness and a place of sadness. Some marriages experience more of one than the other. The hardships vary in every season and over the years in every marriage, but everyone knows at some point that being married isn’t easy. For many it is a source of pain and suffering as well. The Church would do well to acknowledge this more publicly and privately. If we didn’t make talking about marriage struggles so “taboo,” then maybe more marriages would be helped. One of the best ways to honor marriage in the Church is to openly acknowledge the brokenness of it.

Read the rest at Speak For the Unborn >>

The Happy Place of Humble Dependence

Ever heard of reaching your limit? As moms, we likely come to that place more times than we can count. When I was a first-time mom, I thought I should be able to do everything on my own: take care of my baby while also doing the dishes, cleaning, cooking, and keeping on top of the laundry pile. I even felt like it was wrong if I wanted to have a break from my child. It felt weak to ask for help. It showed my true state: that I wasn’t Supermom. 

We have God designed limitations simply because we are created beings. We have to eat, we have to sleep, we get sick, and all of these experiences point to creaturely dependence. And yet there is something in us as human beings that wants to fight against this dependence, these limitations. Like Adam and Eve in the garden, we want to be like God. We want to do it all, and be it all, to everyone. We want to be strong and capable. 

But, it’s good to remember that the Christian faith isn’t for those who are strong and good enough, but for those who are weak and foolish. As Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 1:27–29, “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

We tend to forget that this portion of Scripture is referring to all of us—to all those called by God in Christ. He is building an army of weaklings to show his strength and power through us. 

And God often uses the instrument of motherhood in our lives to humble us, to show us we are weak and foolish, finite and limited. Accepting these truths about our limited creatureliness and God’s infinite power is the key to our rest in Christ as mothers. Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:23–30). 

When we learn the lowliness and humility of Christ, it will bring us rest. Some of our burdens and weariness can be rooted in pride when we think we can be like God in ways that are reserved only for him. Also, many of the burdens we put on ourselves as mothers are ones we don’t have to bear—burdens that are not put on us by the law of God, but through extra man-made laws put on us by the culture in the world and certain expectations in the church. Jesus invites us to cast them off and learn the humility of dependence from him. 

Read the rest at Risen Motherhood >>

My Book Went to Press

My first book went to press at the beginning of the month. It’s set to release on March 1, 2021. But you can pre-order now. You can also read a description of the book on my new blog page.

So, basically now until the official book release it’s all marketing and promotion.

The marketing manager and I will be working on setting up a Facebook launch team. If anyone is on FB and interested in being apart, please let me know. It would involve helping share links on social media (which we would provide and give direction for), writing a review on Amazon and Good Reads. There will also be many book and gift card giveaways in the group, and also a live Q and A with me.

You will receive a free e-copy, but only the first 25 to apply will receive a free hard copy.

If anyone is interested in applying to be part of the team, please let me know by the end of December and by clicking on my contact page and sending me a message.

Thank you for all your reading over the years. It means so much to me.

Why I’ve been So Silent

I don’t typically put up posts about updates, but I am today! This blog has honestly turned more into a site to store the writing I began doing on other outlets over the years. But even those types of posts I haven’t put up in about a year. I stopped writing for other outlets to focus on a book.

Last year I got a book deal with The Good Book Company, and since last September until this past month I was working on writing and editing (with my editor). But I am overjoyed to say that the manuscript is completed (except for the final stage with the proofreader). Now we’ll be working on plans for promotion until it releases sometime in the new year.

I’ve had an email database of supporters (just supporting through prayer and feedback) over the last 2-3 years of this long process to get a book deal and see it through to the end. If any of my subscribers/followers on here would like to be included in that group of supporters, please send me your name and email on my contact form

The book is about how motherhood brings us to the end of ourselves in order that we might throw ourselves at the Savior’s feet. Thank you so much for supporting my writing thus far.


Take Your Family to the House of Mourning: Children’s Books that Move Us

My son was hiding under the art easel so I couldn’t see him.

“Simon, come here. What are you doing?”

He shook his head, fighting back tears.

“Simon, please come here.”

He slowly crawled out of his hiding spot and walked over to me.

I brought him in close and said, “If you feel like crying, you should cry. What you’re doing is good, Simon. It’s good to be sad about death. Death is wrong.”

“It is?” he asked.

I said yes, we cried a little bit and held each other, then kept reading.

No one in our family has died recently, I’ve just been reading out loud to my six year old son from J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. It’s been a mixture of tears and laughter and some healthy discussions about hard topics. I’ve found the element of story to be a great way to talk about hard things with my son. Great children’s literature is wrought with deep universal topics and questions that have been shared throughout history.

Even from a young age, we can ask our children good questions to build healthy discussions about hard topics. When I’ve not avoided difficult topics, like death, loss, and racism, my son and I have bonded more. It’s crucial to listen to Solomon in Ecclesiastes 7:2:

It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.

It’s good to be reminded of our own mortality, because it humbles us to our rightful place as feeble humans, teaches us wisdom in order to number our days rightly, and helps us learn empathy for our fellow image bearers.

We don’t have to always scout out non-fiction by solely Christian authors in order to teach our children. We must not underestimate our children’s capability to absorb a story rich in ideas. Even if they don’t understand all of the concepts in the story on the first read aloud, it will become a treasure buried in their hearts and minds that can be re-discovered in various ways and connections later on. The point is to continually expose our children to these types of inspirational stories over the years of their childhood and even teenage years.

Here are a few literary stories that enable discussions over death, loss, and racism. And don’t forget that even if the discussions don’t “take off” in the ways we imagined, the main point is the exposure to the ideas in the text.

Peter Pan by J.M.Barrie

On our walk to church one morning my sons were observing and delighting in all the freshly blossomed flowers. Then we stumbled upon a dead bird. Right in the middle of new spring life was a dark death. We must all be confronted with death at some point in our lives. My sons can’t even escape this reality on an innocent walk to church.

In Peter Pan,  J.M. Barrie helps children confront death and loss through a magical and imaginative place called Neverland. A place where children never grow up and are always on an adventure. Though I’ve had to talk to my oldest son about the inappropriate names and portrayal of Native Americans in the book, we’ve laughed and cried together too.

We marveled at Peter’s Christ like sacrifice when he let Wendy have the balloon to escape from drowning. Then we cried when the rising waters of mermaid lagoon threatened to take Peter’s life, and after a bout of fear his courage returned as he cried, “To die would be an awfully great adventure!” The ticking clock of the crocodile, in constant pursuit of Captain Hook, clues us into the sure fate of us all. As J.M. Barrie says, “Time is chasing after all of us.” Hook only has so much allotted time until he is swallowed up in death. So, how should we spend the time we are given?

My son and I were able to talk about orphans when we realized Peter Pan and the lost boys had no parents and desperately desired a mother. We felt empathy for Peter as he gazed through the barred windows at the joyful family reunion of the Darling family. Especially, when we remembered his own personal loss: coming back to his nursery window from Neverland to find it closed, as he peered inside to see his parents with a new baby boy. My son and I shed our own tears at this loss of family. We felt for Peter. Entering into another’s loss, learning about time and death, and courage and sacrifice are life lessons we want to share with our children. Peter Pan can help us do this.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Wilbur the pig comes into this world with a natural human desire: he doesn’t want to die. He’s saved from eight year old Fern who wants to keep him as her pet, until he grows too big and is sold to another farm. He finds himself on death row again, but this time he’s saved from a spider named Charlotte who can weave words into her web. Her plan to rescue Wilbur works and even makes him famous in the process. Charlotte and Wilbur show us that death is a part of living, and that death teaches us how to live. As Charlotte tells Wilbur:

You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.

Charlotte sacrificed her short life for Wilbur so he himself could live. A spider can show us, and our children, that life is short and we must spend it for others. And as we deal with the loss of a loved one, Wilbur teaches us that they can never be forgotten or replaced:

Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders ever quite took her place in his heart.

Freedom Song: The Story of Henry Box Brown by Sally Walker

This title is different from the first two books. It’s not an old book, like the other two, and might not neatly fit into the idea of a true “literary” read, but it still helps convey the idea of slavery to young children. It’s a picture book and tells a true story from the perspective of a slave. I’ve explained slavery to my oldest son before, but reading this book helped him see it as something more concrete and human. He felt the injustice.

Music also plays an important part in this story as Henry longs for freedom and creates his own songs in the midst of hope and despair. He is separated from his family when he is sold to another master.  But we find happiness with him as he marries and starts his own family, only to feel his loss as his family is ripped away from him and sold. He hatches a plan to hide away in a box to the north, and the desire for him to be free is born in us. There is another similar picture book about Henry Box Brown by Ellen Levine called, Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad.

The right story can be a powerful tool to display truth and beauty to our children. Along the way, story teaches us to feel and to know. To know about slavery and to feel the pain of bondage and separation. To know about death and feel that we must learn to live our lives rightly. To know about loss and feel the right way to respond. In our day and time it’s more important than ever to raise up children who feel moved on another’s behalf and who desire to tabernacle among the suffering.

This originally appeared at Morning by Morning >>

Book Review: Wilderness Wanderings by Stacy Reaoch

I just had a baby three weeks ago. She is the third child I’ve carried and birthed after her two big brothers. This past week was my first time being alone with a newborn, a three year old, and a five year old. I’m in that transition stage of trying to figure out a new routine and get everything done (or at least as much as I can) with a big change.

Because of the new baby girl, and changes to my everyday life, I thought it would be a good time to share about a free book I received from Stacy Reaoch. This is a book written exactly for someone like myself in my new stage of life. It’s really for every woman, especially a woman who wants to go through a chronological study in the Bible, but it’s great for moms who have limited time.

With just one-hundred and twenty-five pages and twenty-five short devotional chapters, Wilderness Wanderings: Finding Contentment in the Desert Times of Life, takes us through the Israelites’ wilderness journey to the Promised Land. Each chapter begins with a Scripture reference from either Exodus or Numbers, along with a brief meditation on the passage, followed by real life application, reflection questions, and a prayer.

In just a small book, Stacy reminds us of big truths. Truths of God’s promises, provision, and glory. And lessons about faith, obedience, and perseverance. She brings us into the wilderness where it feels like we’re lost and wandering, but are in fact exactly where God wants us to find him.


Emmanuel: Readings for the Advent Season

For the last month and a half or so I’ve been working on creating content for this e-book with the help of Katie Tumino. (Ellie Eugenia worked on the design and layout.) Inside are short devotional meditations inspired by Christmas hymns. I wrote two myself, as well as Katie and Ellie, but we also had a few other contributors writing their own pieces.

We’re offering it for free! 

Get it here.


The Magic of Fairy Tales: How children’s stories changed whole generations by first changing magnificent writers

In J. M. Barrie’s classic fairy story, Peter Pan explains to Wendy that beautiful, delicate creatures are born from the joy of a child.

When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.

Fairy tales like this are simple, but complex at the same time. They communicate deep truths and morals and they can instill this joy, delight, and wonder while still cutting into the human soul. Maybe we need to return to those important parts of our childhood: joy, delight, and wonder in the simple things. Maybe fairy tales still matter.

Read the rest in the latest issue of Fathom Mag to find out why fairy tales still matter.