The many (many) miles of the first-time Detroit FreePress marathoner--

I am batman. I reek of bananas, Nike Dri Fit and promise. Six months ago I had no desire to even walk one mile but now? Now I feel like someone liquified the Beastie Boys and fed them to me through an IV. Let's do this.

Mile 1
It's still dark, people are cheering like crazy and clothes are hitting the ground at a rate so fast you think the Rapture happened. 
You giggle and say "one down, 25 to go!"

1.5 Fluid Station
Flasks are full so you don't stop, but you stare because you can't believe everyone just throws the cups on the ground like that!

Mile 2
You might need to retie your shoes. Why is your belt bouncing like that? When should you GU? 
(Mental math as you attempt to calculate how long those 6:00a bananas will stay in effect) 
Take one just to be safe.. You brought like, 15. 
Hold the wrapper so border patrol doesn't tackle you for littering. Smile, they have guns

Mile 3
Almost a 5K! That was easy! You should do the Color Run or something!
Wow..the sunrise is gorgeous! Let's stop, immediately, in front of the 20K people behind us, and take a selfie


i saw her today

The girl with like, two bibles and a crumpled study workbook sprawled across a Starbucks table.
Little multicolored pens speckled that space like confetti. Fitting.. it was a party, after all.
Because I didn't just see a girl neck-deep in good book -- I saw a girl who was just thirsting for a word and a hope. I saw a girl letting her text messages ding and all the people walk by as she stayed focused on the only One who could speak the very message she needs today. She sipped her coffee, and she glanced at the screen, but she boomeranged back to the bound book in front of her, scouring scripture for her treasures, promised.
It wasn't a fellow Christian woman who recognized the hunger of that posture. It was a tired momma, drudging through the thick of it, seeing her and saying "that one is anchored to something right now." 
And in that moment, my heart asked to be anchored, too. It begged me to stop seeking approval and acceptance elsewhere, and just dwell in the warmth of grace and true love. 
I saw her and my heart settled, knowing I had access to the same tranquil appointment.
I saw her and my hope swelled, remembering who I was and why I am here. Telling me that the restlessness is good, because it gives me space to choose and move and live. 
I saw her, and I saw the only place where the weary could rest, and the broken could heal, and the lost could find refuge. 
because in seeing her, I saw Him.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 NIV


the one who keeps me anchored

he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
James 1:6 NIV

It was coming up on 9:00a.m. when I was actually leaving the house.  My hands were full, the day was packed, and I was running late--as usual.  That's when her text came through:

"Thinking of you this am.  
How are you doing with your morning quiet time 
and making sure you get it in before you leave the house?"

(cue the conviction)

I laughed a bit and thought to myself  "what quiet time?!
then responded with an honest confession of the drying up of my spiritual life.

You just can't deny your thirst to your best friend--the one who knows you, and knows your quietness just as much as your boldness.  Kristen has stood by me through the deepest darkness of my life, and here in the height of my accomplishment and celebration she knew right where to find me; the shadows.


a white flag moment

It's been said, and I've been offended by it -- 
that snarky jab by people saying: 

"Jesus is a crutch."

while I've barked back and stood firm on what strong faith I have -- such an oh-so-righteous and unshakeable faith -- I realized, maybe He is.  

Maybe He is something I lean on, and carry around in order to keep me steady.  

Maybe He is a name I call on when I don't have the answer.  

Maybe He is a tool I use to appear like I have it all together.  


I'm accepting this revelation, but rather than thinking that I've been just been leaning on a Savior, I actually feel like I haven't been doing His Grace any justice at all.  

Because, if we're gonna go there and say my Lord is a crutch, then let's go all the way there.


i quit my job today

'tis true.

After more than twenty years of hard work in the same field I have decided it is time to close that chapter of my life and move forward.  It’s a chapter I’ve truly invested in, whether with time, energy or emotion.  It’s a place where I’ve found comfort and consistency, but also pain and instability.  I’ve worked tens of thousands of hours to succeed, and have not once been celebrated for my achievements.  

And I’m beginning to understand why.

You see, for the past twenty years or so I have worked as a sort of Image-Management Specialist.  Though this is a title I have made up, it’s actually a very common job.


and the broken are loved

I know it's hard to understand faith.

Especially when those who hold it are not living it to the fullest. 

This world is saturated with proud people who strive to earn, and then selfishly hoard an abundance of resources while those in need are left with little. We humans are bitter and angry and jealous, and still live like kings compared to many. We have found a way to justify murder, hate, judgment, exploitation and self-distruction by flowering the reality with logic such as, "you gotta look out for number one."

It's ugly, yes, but the worst thing we can do is judge the Creator based on the failures of His followers. 

Because the best of His children are still works in progress. The worst of His children, forgiven. 

And as incomprehensible as the Lord's ways are, denying His Presence by looking at the fallen world is like someone saying there are no stars because they've only lived in a cave.

For the world's evil does not disprove the goodness of God, but actually sheds light on the presence of sovereign justice. The topic is heavy, the emotion is high, but the talk is worth it.

Being unaware of the stars is one thing, but refusing to even walk outside to see for yourself is quite another..

If you saw someone in a hurricane trying to keep a small candle lit, you'd think they were crazy.. But wouldn't you wonder why on earth they were struggling to do something so seemingly impossible? 

This same kind of struggle is within every believer. 

The rock of unseen faith and the hard place of the world press onto us from both sides each day, because the battle isn't only between us and the nonbeliever, but between our own worldly hearts and a strong sense of the Spirit. And that Spirit wants us to speak more times than we can find courage to.

So when we have a bit of courage, we engage in the plight of running through rabbit holes to answer tough questions about the Bible, while that is simply putting the cart before the horse. And as a result, we fail to appease the critics -- we fall victim to "atheist jukes", image mashups, and good old fashion direct insults.

But still we try to keep that candle lit. 

Because there was only love before anything else, and if we refuse to see that love, we will always miss the point of everything that followed... whether beautiful or tragic.

Faith in that love was meant to set us apart, not set us against.  It was meant to be work and hope and healing in a state of constant refining.  You see, the Bible never said we'd be perfect upon believing, but that we were commanded to strive for Him, because He never stops striving for us.  

His children are blessed.  His lost, sought.  And the broken are loved.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. 

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." 

John 16:33


advent devotional day 16, a mother's love

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

 ”Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: 
“This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, 
and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 
so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. 
And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

We can possess empathy for Mary.
To even say that feels wrong; I mean, it’s the Virgin Mary.  But I believe we sometimes forget that, though she held the immaculate conception, the Savior of the world, she was still a human.  She was still a woman.  She was still simply a servant of God.  This Scripture tells a very vivid story in its short verses:  Mary considered the wonderful things of the child entrusted to her, and she knew that there would come a day where the Lord would take Him back.

“A sword would pierce her own soul, too.”  

She was aware from the very first message that her life would be turned upside-down time and time again until God’s work would be finished.  First pregnant, then to know that the child was to redeem the entire world, then to hear Simeon confirm this and what pain that reality would be for her.. it just seemed to never end.  I believe she was working with her very deep faith in these moments.  That first night, when the shepherds came and saw, then went and told, it says that Mary “treasured up all of these things and pondered them in her heart.  We should understand that this was a moment of clear revelation for her.  The word used for treasured is actually “kept” in the KJV and one of its descriptions is to “remember, and obey”.

Girls.. Mary not only heard of what was to come of her precious little babe,
but she was also entrusted with the strength to remember, and be blessedly obedient.  

Being a mother comes with joys and fears.  As badly as I want Eli to grow into a strong and independent man, I fear that the opposite can happen.  Either he won’t be strong, or he won’t be independent.. or he won’t even grow to be a man.  Fears fill a parent’s heart, naturally.  God promises us that there is a reason He has sent a child; not a promise that they will become what we want them to be.  God also promises to hold us through it all.  Mary, though she knew full well that the inevitable would soon reach her presence, held tight to Jesus as a young child and boy, and cherished each moment she had.  I believe the depictions we see of her weeping and wailing to God are most accurate, because

Just because she was gracefully obedient
as she carried and delivered Him,
didn’t mean she would be so gracefully obedient
as He carried the cross that would deliver the world.

The hearts of mothers are like deep and endless seas..
they carry more than anyone could ever discover
and they are helpless at the whim of the hand of God.  

Blessed are each one of them.

Today, as we wind down for the night and prepare our children, and ourselves, for the gifts that we’ll receive in the morning, let’s wind down our pride and anger and shortcomings and tensions and prepare our hearts for the gift that God sent us in Jesus.  Tonight, if you are a mother, tuck your sweet little ones in knowing that they are still that much closer to God in purity and love, and that we as parents can truly understand what our blessed mother Mary went through with her own Son.  

Everyone, take all of her worries, wonders, amazement and joy, and treasure them up in your own heart.  Remember them, be obedient in your faith.  Pierce your soul each day with the promise that she and our Lord Jesus endured the most toughest love so that we could be blessed beyond belief!!  


advent devotional day 15, to know hope

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,

    you may now dismiss[c] your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31     which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and the glory of your people Israel.”

We can expect great things from the Lord if we hope for them
I only copied down a few verses of the entire passage I’m referring to today.  Please read Luke 2:22-38 in its entirety before going on.   I love this piece of the story because, it was not when Jesus was full grown and resurrected that Simeon saw Him, but when He was a child.  The amount of faith he must have had to be “moved by the spirit” to go to the temple courts and find Joseph and Mary bringing their son for a “routine purification”, and to know that it was what the Lord promised him; that is something.

Many times we do not even hear God’s voice clearly, let alone be so moved that we act.  Perhaps Simeon was prepared to go on this day?  Perhaps he was anxiously waiting because the Lord had told him previously that He would see the Messiah before he died?  Whatever the case, he was guided by the Spirit on that day to go, and he did in fact meet the Savior of the world.

To know a real hope
I once heard the word “hope” defined as “a confident expectation… the faithful waiting and anticipation of the Lord’s promise.”  Our definition as humans is far from a faithful anticipation, but rather, a wavering “maybe this will happen, and maybe it won’t.”  Simeon’s behavior tells us that he was experiencing a biblical hope as opposed to a human hope.  His actions show us that he was aware of the promise of the Lord and expecting to see them come to fruition.  He was faithfully anticipating, he went when he was called, and then he saw.

What if we moved with a hope like this?
What if we found ourselves fully aware of the Lord’s promises and lived each day in faithful and confident expectation?  What if, when we were called to go like the shepherds and Simeon, we could go because we know there is something waiting for us?

The Lord grants us the luxury of knowing that we have eternity in our sights as long as we are nestled in the comfort and peace that comes with hope.  He wants us to know that He loves us, and that He plans for us.. Though He will not reveal every detail, He wants us to know that He means us no harm and wants the best for us.  He wants us to hope for these things and act accordingly!

Simeon was called to go to the temple; he was moved by the Spirit.  When he went, he had hope, and when he arrived and saw Jesus, he knew.  We should all carry the same anticipation and move with such a faith that when we go, we know!

How are you moving in faithful anticipation?

What is your vision of hope?

How do you remain confidently expectant of the blessings set for you?

I, personally, have found that, no matter what this world dishes me, I can rest on the fact that my God is for me.  He has promised to never leave me or forsake me.  He loves me, unconditionally, and created me to serve Him.  I actively hope for the day I meet my Redeemer.

Today, I want you to confidently and expectantly write down your vision of Heaven.  Remember the first time someone told you about the pearly gates, and golden streets?  Remember the warmth of that picture in your mind?  Ladies, we are still that little girl though we now know a few more scriptures and tell these stories to our own children.  We still deserve to smile and light up with hope of our eternity!  When you write the description of what Heaven means to you, pray over the reason you feel that way.  Praise Him for giving you a Spirit that can guide you to the riches of Heaven.  Praise Him for calling you to be His precious daughter.  Most of all Ladies, treasure up this hope and never lose sight of it.  We are so blessed to collect the vision of our hope and keep it locked in our hearts until the day we are called to go after it.  Amen!


advent devotional day 14, go and spread the good news!

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”  So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 

GO! With feet fitted and ready
After the shepherds heard from the Lord through the angels, they literally dropped what they were doing and went to go see it for themselves.  They saw the baby, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about the child, and all who heard were amazed.

All who heard were amazed.  

The scriptures are so blunt sometimes.  Just like that, the shepherds went, they saw, and they went to all of the people they could reach.  The messages between the lines are just left for us to ponder, and for God to reveal when we meet Him someday.  Doesn’t it make you want to just dig in, though, and find out exactly what happened??  I mean, they left to go to Bethlehem, to look for a baby in a barn, who they were told to worship.  Then they went further and told EVERYONE that the Lord had said to them.  Those are all pretty big moments.  Those were some pretty obedient shepherds..

How many times do we run with fresh energy to spread the Good Word?

I can only speak for myself when I say; not always, or, not always with such zeal.  I often hesitate out of fear of looking crazy, or offending someone.. or just being wrong.  What if I ruin a good relationship here on earth to boast of the riches of Heaven?  What if I lose a lifelong friend by imposing eternity onto their skeptical heart?  I feel the Lord previews this struggle between what we are called to do by faith and who are currently called to on earth by showing us these shepherds on the move.  Though it doesn’t say whether or not they took the sheep, I must imagine that they had to take them along.  Their entire career is based on the care of those sheep and I cannot see them leaving them for anything; not even this.  Though it may have been a risk to take them along, I believe it was done with a strong faith after a loud call by the Lord.

This is what we must understand.. they were called to GO
We will always be given lights and sounds from God, and though no one else may be around to confirm that what we saw was real, we must run with that faith and share the good news.  We cannot just leave our earthly lives behind, however.  We must take them with us TO the King, and lay it all at the cross.  Just as God met the shepherds where they were, He will meet us.  Just as they went, we must go when called.

I do not think it’s a coincidence that the piece of armor associated with the Gospel is that which covers our feet.  Ephesians 6:15 NIV says:

“and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”

Fitted and ready.  That’s how it must be.  What an amazing night for those shepherds..

How is it for you to share the good news?  

Do you run with zeal, or do you meander along?

What do you think it would take for you to GO with great faith and without hesitation?

Today, I challenge you to heed the Lord’s message to speak to someone; to GO with the gospel and share the Good News.  That night, those shepherds were not expecting the job they were appointed, and we won’t either, I’m sure.  God’s way is mysterious, yes, but we can be sure that it is always spontaneous and exciting.  Pray for Him to reveal to you any opportunity to share Him with another person.  Pray for Him to give you confidence to boldly go to the throne for someone and pray on their behalf.  Pray for Him to fit your feet with the readiness of those shepherds and give you the nudge to GO!


advent devotional day 13, the multitude

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, 
praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

We are covered in angels all along the way
God spoke first to the shepherds, through His angel.  Then He told them their King would be found in an unlikely place; swaddled in a manger.  Now the shepherds watched as a great company, a multitude, of angels descended into the sky to praise God for His actions.  I found a sweet reminder of God’s love in all of this..
He has an immense desire for us to hear and believe Him.

Yesterday I touched on the fact that the Lord is jealous for us.  
I want to focus on that a bit more today because, I believe the presence of the multitude bolsters that.

There is something about the word “jealous” being in the Bible that is just difficult for most people to accept.  We read the word with a human mind, and so, we read it with a negative connotation.  In the scriptures where the Lord Himself is using it, however, He is using it with love.  When God speaks of His jealousy, He is referring to His feelings towards us trusting in anything but Him.  He commands us to love only Him, and trust only Him.  He warns us of the consequences of doing otherwise, something often labeled “idol worship,” and then reminds us that He is a jealous God.
He wants us to lean on the only God that can truly save us; Him.

I believe that each day of our lives we are among acting and benevolent angels because we are in the presence of a jealous God.  Look at the way the multitude appeared to the shepherds:  after the Lord appeared to them, and told them where to go, He provided a “great company” of angels to further proclaim His majesty and affirm the blessings given to those whom He favors.  Throughout the Bible, angels are always mentioned in the context of supporting the word of the Lord.  They attracted people and got them to really listen to His messages.

It’s actually a dance we are quite familiar with here on earth.
For lack of a better example, imagine a jealous person in a relationship.  When feeling threatened, that person may prance around or put on a show to grasp the other’s attention.  We should strive to know that, just like this jealous person, our God wants us to see Him in those moments where we may be likely to stray, because:

  1. Just like the shepherds, we may feel scared when a great plan is set before us and we may worship our fear.
  2. Just like the first children of God, we may feel uneasy with waiting on our King and may worship idols of other forms.

God’s jealousy is for us, never of anyone else.  His “show” is holy and His desire for our attention is pure and loving.  We must remember our God’s desire for our very best, and know that we are surrounded by a multitude who’s purpose is to bolster His great plans for us.

He is for us, in the most loving way,
and brings His heavenly host to our level, often.

Which people in your life are a part of your multitude?  

Who keeps you on track, lifts you up, and reminds you that God is for you?

Who speaks to you and sings praise with you?  

Today, take note of each person that is “lighting up the sky” of your plans.  Notice those people, whether friends, family, co-workers or strangers, who make you stop and take a second look.  It could be a person at the grocery store who smiles out of the blue, or a generous driver at a stop sign, waving you on first.  It could be a tender gesture in a tough moment.  It could be a veil removed by someone you least expected.  Whatever the miracle, take it.  God’s messages are just as loud and clear as they were in the first days, we just live in an even louder and more murky world.  It may take some cleansing of our vision, but angels will appear when we open our eyes to the possibility of them.

The world’s jealousy is ugly and painful, but the jealousy of our Heavenly Father will hug your heart and make you whisper sweet praise to Him.  Cling to these moments Ladies, and in doing so, you will discover your multitude!