“Living the Sabbath” in Lent 2016 

10 02 2016


Today is Ash Wednesday. My church will observe the tradition of the Imposition of Ashes I’m worship on Sunday to begin the season of Lent. I often try to come up with a discipline. It used to be a habit I wanted to get rid of, then a habit I wanted to acquire and now some seasons I have something and some in don’t. I just decided on something for this year. 

I am  going to attempt de-cluttering one small area of my home & life each day as my Lenten practice. I remember reading that a life of sabbath includes allowing your home to be a place to practice a life of worshiping God. Family is not able to worship in a cluttered space of life because we are distracted by too many things – either acquiring or cleaning and finding space for stuff. This discipline is inspired by Norman Wirzba’s “Living the Sabbath”. While I clean I am hoping to incorporate a time of prayer. 

By the way, I’m not hoping for rest and relaxation as the cover page of the book suggests (see below) unless it is to bring peace, justice, hope, rest, and relaxation to all the rest of the world as well. 

#Lent2016 #declutter #sabbath #worship #family #wirzba  



Depression is…

25 01 2016

I wrote the follow “Depression is…” list almost two months ago, one day after my birthday, and kept it private. That was also the day I decided to re-fill a prescription after a few years to continue a medication to help me manage my depression. My depression is mild, but it hits me hard come stress and the dark days of winter.

Also this past summer, in July I decided to return to a counselor/therapist who helped me a lot and diagnosed my PMDD a few years ago. I returned because within one year’s time I had transitioned from being asked to go from full-time ministry to part-time ministry (40 hr/wk to 15 hrs/wk with children and youth and decided that also starting graduate school part-time would be a good thing. It was a good thing but it was A LOT of overwhelming transitions for myself and my family financially and schedule-wise. I’m glad I returned to see my therapist because she has been helping me get back to the core of who I am (who God made me to be) and helping me to develop skills for organizing my life as a wife, mother, minister, student, friend, daughter, and more.

So, I’m writing this now and making in public in case it might be helpful to someone in the doldrums of depression who may not realize it, and perhaps for myself in another year when I might need to read it. I hope to bring hope and peace.

Depression is… Ordering a sandwich you’ve been craving a long time via a smartphone app and holding back tears others would probably find silly when you show up and they say they are out of the ingredients.

Depression is … When you have a lot on your plate and you’re too overwhelmed by your perfectionism and paralyzed in even doing what is expected and needed because  you want to know you’ll do it right before you even begin.

Depression is … Listening to your child or a loved one through their concerns and sadness or getting up tin the middle of the night or early morning to selflessly help them even though you just want to sleep and sleep and sleep.

Depression is … Wishing you had the energy to want to do things with others and either declining because you don’t think you’re wanted (when you are) or pushing yourself extra hard to attend something.

Depression is … Not believing in your personal self worth when others have strong confidence in you.

Depression is … Thankfulness for those who wish you happy birthday and while maybe a party would be nice it is too much energy to organize. And with every person who wishes you happy birthday you smile and say thanks all the while wanting to cry and you don’t really know why – maybe because someone cares more about you than you do right now. Or you’re just tired and feel like crying, but still are thankful.

Depression is … Recognizing you are glad the form is sadness because in past years it has been In the form of anger displayed inwardly and outwardly. I would much rather have my children experience me as sad than as angry.

Depression is … turning things in late – yet again – and wondering why you can’t get out of this cycle of being a failure.

Depression is … re-reading this list a month and a half later and seeing how you’ve made it through those rough patches. Knowing that God works through therapists, medications, and a new year to show you can persevere through things even when life has you down, again.

A Pondering and Praying Heart …

20 11 2015

I haven’t forgotten about Paris, Lebanon, Nigeria and Surian Refugees, I still mourn the loss of our family’s cat and I stand with students in Missouri because #blacklivesmatter. But today was a day that many other causes pressed and needed attention. 

My heart, soul and mind are full today. I began the morning praying for my brother and his family – it is my nephew Reed’s birthday and anniversary of his death. One of the hardest days of my life that I know was waaaay more difficult for David & Ashley. I’ll never forget having to break the news of a baby brother’s death to my almost 10 year old niece, then playing with my 4 year old nephew at the hospital who had little idea of what was going on, and holding my brother and his dead son, who only lived for four hours. I was the sole physical representative for our side of his family and was asked to break the news to my parents because my brother was too heart broken. They are still heart broken two years later. Contribute to research for Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH) if you are able. 

Then I spent the morning at Trinity Lutheran College in Everett for a Child,Youth, Family Studies Dept advisory board meeting – heard stories about how the campus recently dealt with a student’s suicide and then listened incredible presentations of current students regarding the Imago Dei (image of God in and through God’s people and the persons of the trinity- God,Jesus, Holy Spirit). I think other alumni would have any lost hope restored in witnessing these presentations. 

While at lunch scheduled to chat about ministry with a student, the TLC Black Student Union called a Student Body meeting confronting and calling into question words that had been spoken to a black student “this school was so much better before your kind was here”. Yes, that happened at a Christian vocational ministry college. My favorite moments were faculty and the academic dean speaking out to support students of color and call out the racism and offering a place of safety to confide and help confronting. A student spoke to Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to a wall centuries ago to advocate for the marginalized – saying Martin Luther would not stand for this oppression. And Erik Samuelson, campus pastor beautifully closes out the time in prayer, blessing, and sending I. The midst of confrontation, confession, forgiveness and hopefully reconciliation. God truly has the right people there at the right time. 

Next I ventured on to my Foundations of Youth and Family Ministry class at SPU where we talked about homosexuality, dignity in death, and place-sharing in youth ministry – deep topics that two and a half hours was not enough time to cover it all. 

Finally had dinner & beer with several other seminary women learning more about them and sharing life stories and encouraging one another in our studies. 

Now I’m supposed to be reading more but my mind, heart, and soul are so full…
Praying for peace and reconciliation in so many pockets of my life and our world tonight. Amen.  

(Edit: if you made it to the end please excuse typos due to tiredness and typing on a small iPhone keyboard!)


I wish bad things did not happen.

17 11 2015

Our kitty of eight years, Selena, died on Saturday. We miss her very much. A friend shared this on Facebook and I curiously clicked through the link. It applies very well to our family’s current feelings about losing Selena, but it also applies to the recent terrorist attacks and anything that is taken away when we least expect it. The blogger is a bear. :)

Hello, I am a bear

sticks are good (2)

I had a collection of sticks.

It was a lovely collection. It contained sticks that were long, sticks that were short, sticks that were pointy, sticks that split off into some sort of double stick thing, sticks that had been broken into more sticks, and even a few items that were not sticks but I felt deserved to be in the collection (dirt, a plastic bottle I found, some acorns, etc.).

I kept the collection near my cave and added to it frequently. The collection was growing quite large, and I loved seeing it grow. I was very proud of my collection of sticks (and stick related items), and just knowing that it was there, ever being a lovely collection of sticks (and stick related items), was comforting to me.

Recently, however, it was damaged. I do not know by whom or why, but someone or something ravaged my collection…

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To The Moms: Just Stop It

23 05 2015

This is sooo good! “You are enough.”.

The Accidental Missionary

I got home after midnight from a business trip last night. That’s probably why I didn’t notice it until the morning. This bag. Alone. On the kitchen table.

Moms bag

Normally, getting my kids to the breakfast table is like trying to coax a couple of cats into a swimming pool. As soon as they wake up, they hide under blankets on the couch and make strange noises. But this morning was a different story.

Audrey came out of the bedroom, wiped the sleep from her eyes, and went right to the table. She sat in front of the bag with a smile on her face.

“What’s the bag for?” I asked as I created my super-duper breakfast parfaits. Colorful layers of yogurt, fruit, and cereal.

“We got it for our end-of-year party yesterday.” She reached into the bag.

“What did you get?”

She started pulling out different items and commenting.


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Seven reasons church attendance is difficult when kids have mental illness…

5 05 2015

These are very real barriers for families – children and their parents/grandparents/(whoever might bring them to church), making it difficult to attend worship, classes and events. This wasy my family growing up, plus my parents were divorced and dad lived close enough for every other weekend visitation, those perfect attendance pins and rewards in Sunday school were constant reminders of the brokenness and difficulties in our lives. How do we not only include these families, allowing for safe spaces to return when they are feeling bold and able?


depressed teenWe as the church do a lousy job of welcoming and including families of children and teens with mental illness or trauma histories. I’d argue that a major reason why we struggle is the absence of an agreed-upon model for a mental health inclusion ministry for kids.

I’ve come to the conclusion that our team at Key Ministry needs to, at the very least, put forth a conceptual model for a mental health/trauma inclusion ministry that could be implemented by churches of all sizes, denominations and organizational styles. This model would be continually tested and refined through the experiences of ministry partners everywhere seeking to include kids and teens with ADHD, anxiety, attachment issues, mood disorders, post-traumatic stress and difficulties with social communication and interaction. Today, we’ll start by identifying seven reasons church attendance/participation is difficult for families of kids with mental illness.

Barrier #1. Social isolation

Families of kids with many of…

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Children’s Book Review: The Story of King Jesus by Ben Irwin

17 04 2015

Bob Irwin FullSizeRender   “The Story of King Jesus” by Ben Irwin is a great new book brought to us by David C. Cook publishing! It is a refreshing perspective of the Bible in a nutshell that incorporates Creation, the calling of Israel, the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and why all of that is important for people today and in the future – God is renewing creation with his love (including humankind) and we are called to help further this mission to the time of completion that will occur when king Jesus returns. Ben Irwin, of course, doesn’t use as big of words to communicate his interpretation of Genesis through Revelation with young and elementary age children.

I read this to my own daughters (ages 7 and 10 years) and my seminarian theology-geek heart was filled with joy because it sums up what I’ve been learning about through my masters of divinity classes (canonical approach!) and the perspective of God that I’ve for so long attempted to communicate to children and their parents as a children’s minister.

Parents and children’s ministry (kidmin) leaders – Sometimes it is hard to teach children about Jesus’s death without instilling fear of death or scaring them with images of nails and blood and violence. Let’s be real – violence happens all throughout the Bible and is an important part of the story and the reason why God is wanting to reclaim and redeem the world. Bob Irwin does excellent work explaining certain situations – people fighting, Israelites being thrown into captivity because they didn’t follow God, wrong doings of many of Israel’s kings,seeming silence of God, Jesus arrested in the garden and death on the cross – in a way that says “This is/was not OK, it hurts and is sad, BUT THERE IS HOPE”. The illustrator of “The Story of King Jesus” – Nick Lee – also does beautiful and amazing work portraying these scenes in a powerful, meaningful and not-overbearing manner.

My 10 year old is an aspiring artist (loves to draw!) and she was highly impressed with the illustrations in this book. Her only dig was “why does everyone draw Adam and Eve as naked behind the bushes?”. Silly girl! My seven year old daughter was able to understand the story and even tell other parts that weren’t specifically mentioned, but she could look at the pictures and without reading the words and understand what is being depicted.

I highly recommend “The Story of King Jesus” to anyone looking for a good solid canonical theology of Genesis to Revelation children’s book and for folks looking for artwork to depict the Bible as well. I thought it would be thicker than it was but it is a thin 24 page book, which I then assumed would be simple and cute – yet it is packed with information and it is not too overwhelming unless you have a wiggly child – then you might break it up into parts reading over a few bedtime story sessions.

Check it out – Bob Irwin’s “The Story of King Jesus” today, comment on this post today and WIN A COPY of “The Story of King Jesus” by Bob Irwin!!

If you’d like a copy of this book, I have an opportunity to give away one free “The Story of King Jesus” book to one special random drawing winner.

How to Enter (now through Sunday, April 19th):

  1. Leave your name and reason why you’d like a copy of this book in the comments below for one entry.
  2. Share this post via Facebook, Twittter, Google+, and even pin to Pinterest and then leave a comment telling me where you’ve shared.

I’ll draw a name at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 19th, 2015 – get your entries in and if you think of someone else who might love this book, be sure to share this post with them so they can enter as well.

In the meantime, if you’d like to purchase the book you can find it at:

ChristianBooks.com  | ThoughtfulChristian.com | Barnes and NobleAmazon.com

or your local independent bookstore!

BTW – the only compensation I receive for this post is a copy of the book to use for review and promise of a giveaway book to my readers upon review.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to comment to enter the drawing!!


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