Unraveled Church

It feels strange to learn how to “do” church while your husband is in full time ministry. For some people it feels strange to “do” church at all and to others “doing church” feels like an old perfectly broken in baseball mitt.

For me it feels like I have the old cozy baseball mitt but my hand just hasn’t settled into those comfortable places yet.

“Doing” church is something I am still learning to do. And this is where God has me.

There was a time when I would try to settle into those comfy spots like a stepsister forcing her way into a glass slipper. Forcing my hand to make it touch every contour, nook, cranny and seam. I believed if I could just do it better or try to make it fit harder maybe then the doing of church would feel more comfortable.

And then there are times when I haven’t even felt like wearing the glove at all. I saw the glove and I knew my hand didn’t quite wear it well so I hid behind pride, behind shame and even behind the pointing the finger of blame.

The root of pride that I was just too different.

The trunk of shame from who I have been and what others have said about who I am.

And a branch of a pointing finger which bore the fruit of blaming others for a perfect glove which wasn’t quite snug enough.


And now I realize, ten years into being one with someone who is called to lead God’s people in God’s church, that doing church or learning to do church is simply a process. It is a constant unraveling of  what you thought you knew from who God is calling you to be. Whether you have a brand new glove or your glove is cozy and your hand feels like it fits every cranny.

Everyone is in the process of learning how to love Jesus more and love their self less.

And God has me in the process of learning how to do church. A place where I know my hand isn’t quite settled into every cozy place and I am okay with that.

I don’t feel cozy in my glove when I sit in the front row on Easter Sunday and one of my handsomely dressed children is eating their boogers. My pride still has me finding my worth in how we look sitting there in the front row.

I don’t feel cozy in my glove when my husband doesn’t share a story just right from the pulpit and the expression on my face shows it. My perfectionist self reveals it’s rolling eyes and my wanting to control rears it’s ugly side.

I don’t feel cozy in my glove when we are adjusting to a service which is thirty minutes earlier and with four kids we seem to be walking into worship late and with wrinkly slacks almost every Sunday. The soil of acceptance and my need for others to see me as “shiny and freshly pressed” seeps into my pridefully drenched roots. Sometimes my heart finds it’s worth in freshly pressed pants.


It is only when I can undo what I have already wound up tightly, unravel what I thought I knew from what is true and start with feeding the roots of myself with faith and belief… this is where I can find freedom.

Dependent roots grounded in the gospel of truth which remind me that yes, I am different, but I am also uniquely knit together and wonderfully made, called specifically to be in the front row with booger eating children for a purpose I don’t quite know the meaning of yet.

A trunk of fresh bark, firm and strong by the Word and His power which reminds me that in Christ, I am a new creation, the old is gone, the new has come and I am more accepted and loved in Christ than I could have ever dared to dream of.

And branches that don’t bear fruit of blame and pointing fingers at others when I don’t feel like I fit in but instead bear fruit of love and service because I realize unraveling this idea of doing church is not at all about me, or anyone else around me. When I pull back the threads of pride I can see clearly that church is about God and calling people from all different backgrounds to love and serve Him, no matter how well the glove fits, in the name of Jesus.

When I recognize that my biggest discomfort about fitting in and “doing” church well actually has mostly to do with my pride (myself) when I point that branch back at me, it is there when I can wear my glove more comfortably.

Even though I haven’t quite completely grow into it yet.

It is there, when I unravel what I thought I knew about doing church from my pride and unbelief that I can be comfortable with just being in process.


It’s not about shoving like a stepsister. We all desperately want the glove to just fit better but instead we should be learning to be more comfortable in the places that don’t quite yet fit. This is where we find faith and belief. This is where we trust that God will grow us in the ways he needs us to grow, in His timing.

We are loved when our gloves don’t seem to fit, our kids eat boogers and we are running late with wrinkly pants.

I will grow into the coziness of the glove in God’s good and perfect timing. Being in process of doing anything is a good thing. God is good and He is at work, we need not shove. He is able to grow us into our gloves even without our shoving.

I am a pastor’s wife, learning to “do” church. I am in process and I am okay with that.

Prayers For My First Grader

It was supposed to be rest time in our home at 1:30 this afternoon. I put my baby down in her crib, closed the door and walked down the stairs to call the boys in for rest time just the way I normally do.

I sing to the tune of Mary Had A Little Lamb: ” It’s time to find your resting place, resting place, resting place, time to find your resting place, it is time to rest.”

But as I went to open the door and sing my song I saw three boys laughing and playing and I just could not make them stop.

So I watched them play from the bay window. The older two were on the swings and the younger was whacking them with a pool noodle. They were all laughing hysterically but I started to cry as I watched them.


Today was the last day that all three of them will run around in the backyard after lunch time most days of the week. Tomorrow our biggest boy goes off to first grade and seventy one percent of his lunches and after lunch play times will now be spent outside of our home. (Mathematicians don’t hate on me here… I did not configure school and summer vacations into that one.)

So as I watched them I prayed. As I have gotten in the habit of praying for my kids when I spy on their play times.

I prayed for my son’s first days in his new classroom.

Lord, you are faithful and good. Please give my son good relationships with his new teachers and help him make new and long lasting friendships with his classmates. 

Lord, help him find others to run around on the playground with the same way he runs around our backyard at home. 

Lord, give him friends to sit at the lunch table with and joke and laugh… but also in the appropriate ratio of socializing and food eating. 

Lord, help me remember your faithfulness to us last year. Give me hope and trust for a school year which will grow us and stretch us in ways we weren’t expecting. 

Lord, give my son confidence in his work. Help him know in his heart that he is always loved by The Most High God. Help my son remember that he is kind, smart and important, uniquely knit together, wonderfully made. 

Lord, help my son stand up for himself and others. Help him be strong and courageous because You are with him wherever he goes. 

And Lord, help me be strong and courageous too because You have written that You are with my son wherever he goes and You are faithful. 

And as I watch these boys play, help the youngers left behind miss their brother well. Help them miss him enough to long to play around him but not enough to forget the fun they have when they are all together. 

Lord, we need you in transition and the unknowns. Help us trust You more and love one another better in the days to come.


And now the hardest thing to do is to leave my prayers and trust. To walk in the faith that calls us to believe in God’s faithfulness, even when we can’t see His faithfulness coming. To let the tears come with peace. The peace of God which transcends all understanding and guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

peace of god

First grade, here we come.

You can pray for me too.

Dear Mom, Why Didn’t You Tell Me?

My mother passed away after a seven year battle with breast cancer when I was fourteen. There is literally no way she could have told me all the things I needed to know about pregnancy and parenting but I had this idea to write like I was writing to her a few years ago so I’d thought I give it a try. There are so many times I find my kids sucking on the toilet cleaning brush or wondering what to do about splinters and I ask myself why I didn’t have a notebook in my back pocket observing my mother while I could have. 


Dear Mom,

I love you and I miss you tremendously every day. Seriously. Young moms need their moms to have on the other end of the phone saying things like, you used to suck on the toilet brush too and you still have two eyes, ten fingers, ten toes and a twisted but very funny sense of humor. 

I am now a mom and I get you. I get why you had to talk to yourself while you are driving the minivan or shopping in the grocery store. I used to think you were a little insane. I loved you but the aloud list making was just something I couldn’t understand. But I get it now. If you didn’t say it aloud your thoughts may have been lost in the screaming and the chaos of the unpredictable life of raising multiple kids.

And by the way, why didn’t you tell me it was unpredictable? I really believed my children would come into the world knowing how to listen to mommy’s voice. I have seen all these nice videos now-a-days on the Internet (the Internet has really taken off and is a good but horrible thing all at the same time) when children hear their mother’s voice from their womb and the mother’s voice is a beacon for them, it is comforting to them. Why didn’t you tell me that as babies grow the beacon isn’t as important for them anymore?

None of my children listen to mommy’s voice. There are times when I feel like they have turned my beacon/frequency down all together. If you would have told me this before I feel like I could have been a little more guns blazing about it. The listening patterns of my children are still a mystery to me.

Why didn’t you tell me there will be days when I feel like I am doing everything wrong but at the same time I am doing something right.

As a mom there are so many moments when the data seems to point to the undesirable outcome. There are just too many times when I feel like I am screwing up my kids and I wish you would have told me that it will all be okay.

I wish you would have said that even though you were at every class party, brownie troop meeting, dance competition and planned the most creative birthday parties I have ever seen before pinterest, (pinterest is a website where people can find all of your ideas for birthday parties on that thing I mentioned above called The Internet, it doesn’t even dial up anymore, it’s all about high speed access to your awesome birthday party ideas)

I wish you would have told me that I didn’t always listen and the data pointed to the undesirable for you too.


Why didn’t you tell me it would be so hard and that I would need you so much? Even what feels like so much more now than it felt like I needed you when I needed you when I was little.

When I was little I needed you to help me use a spoon but now I need you to help me feel un-crazy.

These toilet brush sucking moments make me freak out! I can’t even begin to let myself go down the road of germs and other possibilities. I really can’t even go there or I’d call 9-1-1.

Why didn’t you tell me?

Why wasn’t I listening?

Why aren’t you still here?

These are the moments when I miss you. When I want to pick up the phone and call someone who has been gone for seventeen years.

It’s a good thing I’ve totally accepted talking to myself as normal. That basically is what I blog is for me. So I’ll maybe keep bringing the questions to you here.

Maybe someone out there will remind me that toilet brush sucking has happened before and talking to yourself is not insane but it is survival.

Mom, I miss you all the time. The loss of you makes me understand the fact that this life is not the way it is supposed to be and makes my soul long for something better. 

You were a treasure and I wish I would have followed you around with a notebook when I could have.

Unraveling Kindness

I never knew it but for a long time I never understood the real reason of why it was important to be kind to others.

I can remember being taught the saying “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” from Matthew 7:12 and I believed what this verse was communicating was that if you gave kindness to others, others will give kindness in return. We treat people as we want to be treated in hope of someone giving back kindness to us in return.


I interpreted this teaching from the Bible as a young girl, just one verse, which is a good verse in itself but without proper teaching and my own ability to turn a verse into what I want it to mean, I led a life giving kindness and expecting kindness in return.

This way of living gave me many years of giving kindness and receiving disappointment.

Living a life giving out kindness and expecting kindness in return is not a great way to live. Everyone out there is fighting battles I can’t even begin to know about. People are lost, insecure, hurting, scared and jealous. All on their own levels. But everyone is fighting a some kind of battle in the same way I am fighting mine to put off the lostness, the insecurities, the hurts, the fears and learning to love yourself enough to not compare your life to the lives of others.

I have lived enough years now to know that giving kindness does not always return kindness. You can smile at that runner on your route every week and they may never smile back.

You can like someone’s photos on Facebook, wish them a Happy Birthday, take interest in their life and family and they may never take interest in you back. They may never wish you a Happy Birthday and they may even unfollow you.

And this is life. Living life is raw with real hurts to your heart and life lessons beneath the surface. It has taken me ten years of following Jesus to unravel my thoughts about kindness. Ten years of undoing the things I thought were true and letting God weave truth within me from His Word. What is true about kindness is we do not give kindness to receive kindness.

We give kindness to others only because God is kind.


It has taken ten years of reading the Bible as an entire story and ten years to learn how to unravel what is untrue about kindness. To take that one good verse and place it in the midst of all the other verses that God speaks to us about kindness. To synthesize them all together under teachings from Sunday mornings and participation in Bible studies.


Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Psalms 36:7 How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.

Psalms 63:3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You.

Acts 20:35b – It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Galatians 6:9a – Let us not lose heart in doing good.

I John 3:19 – We love, because He first loved us.

Hebrews 13:1-2 – Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

James 3:17-18 – For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

It has taken me ten years to learn that giving kindness is not about receiving kindness in return. Kindness should be given to show others the love of God. I can only be responsible for my part and I cannot control how others respond to me. I do not know their battles. I can only know mine. And it is a fight for me to give kindness when kindness is not returned.

So that is my battle for now.

I will be kind because God is kind, giving kindness freely and expecting nothing in return. I believe this is where the root of true kindness begins. When we give and expect nothing in return. Just as God has given us Himself, in our messes, and He abundantly bestows his lovingkindness on us even when sometimes we are too blinded by ourselves to give him anything in return.

As Christians we have to get off the hamster wheel of giving kindness to receive kindness. We have to give kindness only because God is kind and expect nothing in return. It is there that we can find true kindness, without selfish ambition. It is there that we can have that runner not smile back every week and remember how long God has bestowed his lovingkindness on us and we have looked the other way and not smiled back in return.

We can only give kindness because God was kind to us first. Over and over again.

That is the truth and that is what I have been missing all these years.

We can only be kind because God is kind.

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Stick with me and follow this blog as I continue to write stories about what it is like to unravel and learn to be Christian in the front row at church. I am forever learning, growing and trusting that God has begun a good work in me and is bringing it to completion. 

Marriage: Learning To Ask Questions

A few nights ago I noticed that the leftover boxes from the lunch we had eaten out that afternoon were not in the refrigerator. My husband had taken our four children home from the restaurant in our minivan and I had taken his car to the grocery store after lunch. It was his role that afternoon to get the kids home safely and get the leftover boxes out of our minivan to prevent them from baking in the hot garage on a humid, eighty-five degree almost-summer day.

Here we are at our rehearsal dinner nine years ago.

Here we are at our rehearsal dinner nine years ago.

My husband and I have been married for nine years. Nine years of good fights and sweet moments of repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation.

For nine years we have been fighting to learn to ask one another questions instead of making accusations when the topics around here get heated. Usually we fight about things like leftover boxes (and also) hypothetical situations.

If I had noticed the boxes missing from the fridge and right away said something like:

You left the food in the car didn’t you?

That would have been a bad question. A very bad question. There are two yous in that question. Even though it is what I wanted to say… it hints at the fact that I know the answer. This kind of question would be an accusation. Which in marriage, I am learning, is a bad way to communicate with my husband.

Two yous in a question are very bad.

This is the kind of question I asked when we were in the earlier years of our marriage as I unraveled; trying to grow and walk in the gospel of grace but there were parts of me still tangled up in the roots of my past: hot fires of accusations and fists up ready and looking for a good fight.

In the middle years of our marriage I would have asked something like:

Is the food from this afternoon still in the car?

You see as a wife here I am getting better at asking a question but there is still a subtle hint in the direction of an accusation. No yous but there is still a hint of pointing the finger, especially with that sighed still thrown in the middle of the question.

Now, get ready for me to give myself a round of applause. Truly, if you knew my struggles in the area of asking people questions without already assuming the answer you would give me a round of applause too and if you really knew me you would stand up and encourage me to stand up too.

And if you were my husband you would want me to high five, rock fist and chest bump with you in celebration.

After nine years I asked a good question and it happen the other night over leftover boxes.

First step, I waited for the right time. After noticing the missing boxes I waited until the kids were asleep, the house was quiet and my husband and I were snuggled up on the couch watching our new guilty pleasure on Netflix.

I then waited some more and then sweetly asked…

Is the food from lunch maybe still in the car? Maybe it didn’t make it inside while you were bringing the kids in this afternoon.

Truly. The word maybe made my question non-threatening. My husband automatically said, “Yes, I forgot, I am so sorry.” And it was finished.

This whole thing got me thinking about asking questions and growing over time.

I am learning to ask better questions and I know I am not finished in this whole process. God is unraveling me and I am applauding.

Just think how good my question will be when we have been married for sixty years. I will probably just skip the question and retrieve the forgotten boxes once I find that they are missing. That would be completely accusation free. That would be complete sanctification.

And… will probably take fifty-one more years of sanctification. Or maybe longer.

Learning to ask questions has been part of the journey in learning to communicate in our marriage. We are both thankful for the process and thankful to have one another to walk with in the not-so-perfect jouney of learning communication in marriage.

God is able to do more than we could ever ask or think.