Cornbread cupcakes.

You ever feel like you face the same issues over and over and over again in life?  Same issues in your relationships.  Same issues in your marriage.  Same issues with your kids.  Same issues in your job.  Same issues with God. Like life is sometimes on repeat?

I do. A lot…  A whole lot.

And far too often these same lessons/struggles/issues/fill in the blank, leave me in the same discouraged, confused place.  A place where I doubt and question.  Where I get impatient and want to jump ahead of God.  Or where I get lost in the “things will never change- life will always be this way” kind of thinking.  It’s the pits.  And I fall for it every time.

We’ve been having “food issues” at our house.  Hagen is teething (big time) and Delle is turning into a picky, “I don’t like anything new” eater.  Meal time around our house is a hit or miss game of negotiations and trickery.

The other day after a series of misses with Delle, as a last ditch effort I asked her if she wanted some cornbread from last night’s dinner.  It was a hit yesterday and I was hoping it would be one today as well.  So far she had consumed a grand total of 5 Cheetos, 1 cheese stick, and a little turkey.  & Somehow, the idea of cornbread made me feel like her lunch would be far more “well-balanced” if she had a semi-vegetable in the mix.

Shocker, she quickly replied with “no.”  Then somehow in my advanced “parenting trickery” skills kicked in &  it dawned on me to rephrase the question… “Delle, would you like one of these cornbread CUPCAKES?”   Magic word: cupcake.  Shocker, she said “yes,” ate most of the “cornbread cupcake” & I was content knowing my 3 year old had a little “nutrition” in her diet.

Here’s where this got me thinking.

Delle refused the plain cornbread.  Ate the cornbread “cupcake.”  & all along, knew it wasn’t really a cupcake.  But somehow in the rephrasing of what she THOUGHT she was eating, she learned to like (& eat) the cornbread.  Granted all of this logic is based on a 3 year old’s eating habits, but how often are we like Delle?

For me, here’s how this plays out… God calls me to wait.  I say no.  God calls me to wait some more.  I still say no.  I fight it. I whine.  I complain about why things aren’t turning out like I want them to.  God says wait.  I still say no.

And then God REFRAMES my waiting. My situation.

He reminds me of the “cupcake” so to speak.  He reminds me that I’m not ready, others aren’t ready, things aren’t ready for the next step.  That rushing ahead forgoes the lesson I need to learn today, in the moment, with these people.  And suddenly I stop. I take it in.  And I see my waiting not like I’m in some line at Starbucks that’s taking way too long but instead like it’s process, it’s a lesson.  Like it’s a GOOD thing.

I see my waiting not as something to fight against but something to lean into.  Something to embrace, to soak in, to see as GOOD not as an obstacle.

Truth: waiting/difficult lessons suck.

Reality: we all will encounter them.

The reality is a lot of us are like Delle.  We have a plan of how we want things to go.  It may not be as simple as a meal or cornbread but we have this plan.  It sits and lies in the back of our minds comparing itself against everything we do.  It tempts us.  It taunts us.  It makes us fight and whine and complain to God about where we are.

And God has to remind us, that whatever is in front of us…  It’s there for a reason.  Maybe for us, maybe for someone else.  But it’s there.  And it’s a part of our plan, whether we wanted it to be or not.  The difficult challenge is that the choice is up to us how we will embrace this plan, this “thing” that’s staring us in the face.

Will we fight it?

Will we whine?

Will we complain?

Will we curl up into a ball and stay frozen?

Will we throw it right back at God and stomp out of the room?

Or will we find the cupcake in our cornbread?  Will we see the GOOD of where we are, fight to remain focused knowing at just the right time, things will come together.  God will answer or reveal or heal or mend or whatever it is you need Him to do.  He will do it.  At just the right time.

So eat your cornbread and find the “cupcake” in it.

No that doesn’t mean it will taste like a cupcake or give you the nice little sugar rush that comes with cupcakes.  But you will be able to enjoy your cornbread a whole lot more if chose to see (& dwell) on the cupcake more than what it is you’re eating.  And maybe, just maybe, God will teach you something incredibly life changing in the process.

Who knew cornbread could have such meaningful lessons;)


Agreeing to Disagree.

Why is this such a challenging statement?  A statement that can imply (and incite) anger, frustration, resentment, confusion.  A statement that, honestly, many of us haven’t lived all too well?  I’ve been told (and partially agree) that political sermons are a bad idea.  Political posts incite anger.  Don’t discuss controversial issues.  Don’t isolate or anger a large group of people for the sake of a rant. Yes, there is some truth in this.

A lot of truth, actually. 

But my fear is that we have forgotten how to lovingly and peacefully discuss these topics with one another.

Partially due to social media.

Partially due to the nature of the controversies.

But when did these “topics,” these “issues,” become the very things that would divide us? No longer are we divided by denomination or religion but by politics and laws and rights.  We started choosing sides and disassociating ourselves with the other side.  This is a grave misfortune.

We were created for relationships, for diversity, for differences, and for the tension the lies within these.

So yes, I disagree with mean-spirited social media rants.  With commenting on posts that incite anger, fear, or hatred.  But yes, I also disagree with silence.  Silence on the injustice that is taking place.  Silence in the conversations that need to be had.  I believe we need to DISCUSS (key word) these things with one another.  We need to be able to have, non-ranting/angry/mean spirited conversations about the difficult, challenging, and controversial things that exist in our world today.

We need to agree to disagree… agreeably.

I wish I could take credit for this phrase, but truthfully the credit goes to my boss, Rufus Smith.  But I’ve adopted it.  & Have been (trying to) live it.  I would be lying if I said this was an easy thing to live.  It’s not.  It’s incredibly challenging.  Not to mention, my job puts me in a precarious situation.  A situation where there are many people who agree and support me as a pastor.  And there are equally as many who don’t.  And over the years I’ve learn to wade this new territory.  Territory where people, on the same team, both and agree and disagree with you.  Add into the mix working in a mega church filled with all different kinds of theologies, political affiliations, and difference of opinions and it gets complicated real quick.

& So, I have guarded these discussions.  I have mostly nodded my head and remained silent about the things that matter most to me.  I have feared the tension.  The conversations.  The disagreeing.

I say all of that to say, I get it.  I get how challenging all of this is.  But I also get that this is new territory for our nation.  Territory where we are more divided than ever.  People on either side not understanding one another.  Hating one another.  Pointing fingers all the while the divide is growing.  Wider and deeper than I have witnessed thus far.

Let us speak our beliefs in love and kindness and be willing to abandon policies or laws or lines drawn for the sake of people.  Of lives.  Created in the image of God.  Because that’s where we are ALL the same.  We ALL are people.  Created equally, in the image of God.  Believer, non- believer.  Democrat.  Republican. Immigrant.  Citizen. Heterosexual.  Homosexual. Male. Female. PEOPLE…  God-created people.

Let us love one another in such a way that we are willing to step into the divide.  Have conversations.  Stand up for one another.  Speak God’s truth.  And be the PEOPLE we were called and created to be.

Will this be challenging and frustrating and painful? 100 percent.

& I dare say if this is easy for you right now, either you have an extra dose of the gift of mercy and overflowing grace or you aren’t in enough conversations with those who think differently than you.  This call (really challenge) is not to pat one another on the back. Roll our eyes from a difficult conversation and leave never having wrestled with the tension.  It’s a call to wrestle.  To honestly try to understand the other side.


To engage. 

To leave with more questions than points you made.

The other day I bumped into a young guy from Germany.  After my sermon, he came up and ask me, “Is Christianity only about getting saved from hell?”  His honesty and frankness caught me off guard but truthfully it was refreshing.  He continued explaining to me the difference of cultures and religion between America and Germany and how so many of the Christians he has encountered here in the States have been mean spirited and judgmental of one another, of policies, of the election, and have spent more time talking about hell than love and hope and justice.

This confused him (understandably so).  But my heart broke hearing his words.  His words of judgement, anger, division, and fear.  Not words of love, hope, justice, peace. His words and experience saddened my heart and fueled this post.  NOT a post to rant BUT to challenge.

To encourage believers to unite. 

To discuss.

To love.

To dive into the Scriptures and seek to live a life like that of Jesus. 

A life where we are wrestling with the tension.  Where we are seeking to deeply love one another… & not just those who look, think, act like us.  But those who are different.  Who are hard for us.  Those who we don’t understand.   Who get under our skin…  ALL PEOPLE.

The world needs it (& is watching) now more than ever.  Will we suddenly all agree on politics or women in ministry or healthcare or whatever… not even close.

But can we begin resembling the kingdom of God with our love (and patience) for one another and those around us? I believe so.

I believe that as we begin resembling a kingdom filled with different races, genders, political parties, denominations; a kingdom filled with love, hope, justice, patience, kindness, we will be living out our mission.  A mission of equality.  Of love. Of justice.  Of truth.

I also believe the enemy has us all off track. We have become a group of people focused on what divides while skimming over what unites.

It’s time, Christians, for us to stop skimming and remember.

Remember our mission. 

Remember our purpose. 

Remember our savior.

So, lean into the hard questions, don’t shy away.  Ask them. Answer them. Discuss them.  And let all of your thoughts and conversations be seasoned with L O V E. 

Let us unite through such a season and difficult time.

& Let us be know for our great love and action, not our silence and division.

My prayer is that this may be said of the people of God.


A solid 20.

I am (100 percent) the person you made fun of in middle school or high school or college. 

I’m the person who cared way too much about getting an A+ or having the best and greatest project or making sure their presentation is flawless.  I am (100 percent) a self-proclaimed perfectionist.

I remember when I was in seminary and a friend of mine gave me permission to not make an A.  They told me (really counseled me) through times in life when we can’t make an A on EVERYTHING… so we must embrace it, do our best, and move on.  It was extremely liberating.  And so (after heeding this much needed advice), I went home, studied my 8-month pregnant butt off for my upcoming Hebrew exam… and made an A.  It’s a serious problem.

I can’t, NOT give something 100 percent.  It’s just not in my nature.

And God knows this.  Part of me think this is why every time I have a major life change or exam in my life…I wind up pregnant.  Seminary and taking Hebrew…. pregnant.  Ordination exams and new job… pregnant.  I’m thinking I might take a little break from being pregnant.

But seriously, God had to practically break me down in order to make me realize I can’t do it all, 100 percent, perfectly… ALL. THE. TIME.

And I hate this lesson.

Because I hate disappointing people.  I hate disappointing myself.  And I hate the realization that I… Can’t. Do. It. All.

Recently, I had a conversation with a friend and she mentioned feeling overwhelmed in all areas of life.  She felt like a terrible mom, wife, daughter, and friend.  She was discouraged because she felt like she was only giving the people around her 20 percent (at best).

And something inside of me completely resonated with her.

I feel the pressure and frustration and discouragement of not being able to give those around me an A+ ALL the time.

So it got me thinking… we all will go through seasons when this is so true. Whether we are a mom or dad or friend or just flat out crazy busy.

So what do we do? How do live, push on, and change things up when 20 percent is the new 100?

I’m not big on the “Top 5 ways to…” blog posts but I’m caving in and telling you the top 5 things that have helped me in my “breaking perfectionism” journey…


#1. Kill the %$!! out of that 20 percent.

If that’s all you’ve got, then give it a solid 20. Seriously.  So often I spend the majority of my time discouraged by what I can’t do instead of focusing on what I can.  So for me it’s about focusing on the positive.  Remaining set on whatever “percentage” I can (realistically) give, & then choosing to give it that to the best of my ability.  Easier said than done, but hey, I’m trying.

#2. Revaluate your priorities.

Make sure 20 percent is a season NOT a lifestyle.  We all will have seasons when it’s just ridiculously busy/tough/challenging.  But when 20 percent becomes the norm… that’s when it’s time to make sure you are doing what matters most.  It’s always during these crazy busy, challenging seasons when I get to a breaking point and really step back to make sure I’m doing what I want to, feel called to, and am gifted at doing.  Reevaluation is not a bad thing.  It helps us remain focused on what’s most important and to make sure we’re moving in the right direction.

#3. Be patient through the season.

This is the hardest one for me.  But it’s so true… BE PATIENT.  Tommy is constantly reminding me, during the 20% times in life, to remember this is a season… NOT forever.  So true.  I am constantly needing to remind myself of this.  This is a moment when kids aren’t sleeping or work is in full swing or calendars are filled- this is NOT the norm.  And so pushing through these times, remaining focused on what matters, and being patient through the season makes all the difference.

#4. Find a breathing space.

Find a place, a time where you can take a deep breath and get centered.  For me it’s in a small chair in our living room where I get real with God.  I am honest and brutal and tell Him what’s going on. Oh and I have a HOT cup of coffee with me (this is KEY). Find your place that gets you right and be diligent about going there when things are at a 20.

#5. Get with your people.

Talk it out with the people who love you the most. They will tell you- it’s a season, it’s you, it’s whatever it is… but your people will know. Find those people. Get those people.  Be one of those people.  They have been my lifeline through the seasons.

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Our culture is fast paced and demanding.

The busier the better.  The more challenged, the more rewarded… it’s incredibly hard to not get caught up with it all.  Sometimes it feels like it’s more work fighting against it than just caving in.

A good friend of mine recently sent me a bracelet that had the words, “you were made for this” on it.  & to be honest with you, it was exactly what I needed.  I needed a DAILY reminder that I AM made for this.

In the hustle and bustle of this crazy life, my own worst enemy is…. well, me.

I get in my head, I doubt, I question.  The exhaustion forces my guard down and almost immediately I begin questioning if I really CAN do all I am doing.

And those simple words, “you were made for this,” reminded me of a deeper calling.  A calling where I DO KNOW I am made for this and that I have the One with me who has called me and believes in me to walk alongside me in this journey.

The simple, yet profound, truth I so often forget is this… the very God who called me is the same God who sustains me.

I tend to somehow separate the two.  Like God calls me, pushes me, and then leaves me to do it all on my own.  But the truth is…God calls me, pushes me, and walks through it right next me.

But here’s the catch.  I can’t do it all.  I can’t do it on my own.  I can’t be perfect or have it all together, or give everyone 100% all the time.

I need a God bigger than myself, reminding me of my calling, my worth, my purpose to keep me focused.

What an interesting paradigm… that we both can and can’t do it at the same time.

That we CAN’T do it on our own but we CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens us.  It’s in this tension where I wrestle with balancing the joys and hardships and struggles of this (quickly fleeting) life.

But it’s also in this tension where God teaches me some of the greatest lessons of trust, faithfulness, reliance, and the true meaning of grace and mercy.

And for that, I am grateful.



But First.

When I first felt called to seminary I decided this was the moment in my life where I would be adventurous and go BIG. I started looking into schools in my hometown and quickly learned that somehow being a woman disqualified you from earning a Masters in Divinity. This was tough. And I was left with literally 1 option in my city. And to be honest, it wasn’t the flashiest, most difficult school either. And theologically speaking, they came from a completely different background than me.

And so, being the overachiever, straight-A student that I am, I decided I would take this opportunity to attend a top ranked Seminary.

The catch… we would have to move.

There were great schools all over the country. And the more I looked into them, the more I desperately wanted to do something adventurous like pack up, move across the country for a few years, and immerse myself into graduate school. I was stoked.

The catch… God kept closing doors.

Tommy and I had only been married a couple of years when I came to him with the brilliant plan of quitting my full time job, packing up, moving to California, and attending graduate school.   Good thing I snagged the greatest, most supportive husband ever. Any normal husband would have thought his wife completely lost her mind and would have immediately sought counseling. Tommy, on the other hand, entertained my adventurous plan with me. We talked, dreamed, and discussed what life would look like if we did this. And, to my surprise, God shut the door on my BIG adventurous plan and revealed that I be faithful in the small, little school in town.

So, I was obedient. Kind of. I started attending the small seminary in town but dreamed of bigger and better schools. Of when I would be able to transfer and attend the school of my dreams. I dreamed of my classroom discussions and travels across the country. I had the perfect plan; I would go the small school in town for a couple of years and then transfer to my dream school. It was perfect.

Until… it never happened.

Until, a little over halfway through seminary, I knew God wanted me to remain where I was and graduate from the small, theologically diverse school in my hometown.

This remains one of my greatest regrets in life. I spend 2 and a half years dreaming of a different school, time, and season in life. I went through the motions and was never fully present where God placed me. And so, when I finally came to terms that THIS was, in fact, where God had me… I mourned the loss of the relationships, friends, lessons, and classes I never fully experienced.

I wish I could admit this was the only time in my life where I got caught up in dreaming about the hypothetical future and forgot to live in the complicated present… But it’s not.

Time and time again, I am guilty of “When-Then” living.

WHEN I go to my dream school, THEN cell spy I will really invest in my education.

WHEN life slows down, THEN I will be the wife, mom, friend I want to be.

WHEN the girls get older, THEN I will be able to enjoy this stage with them.

WHEN I get through this work week, THEN I will be able to enjoy my time with my family.

“WHEN- THEN” living is the quiet temptation that lurks in the shadows of my life’s day-in-day-out struggles.

Recently, I came across a passage in 1 Kings 17. Here, God directs the prophet Elijah during a drought, to go to a widow’s house and ask her for some bread.

Here’s what it says in 1 Kings 17:12-13:

 “As surely as the LORD your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.” For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD sends rain on the land.’”  She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family.

Yep, that’s crazy. You read it right. Elijah asks the widow for some food. The widow says, I’m about to make some bread for me and my son and then we’re just going to die… Elijah, I don’t have enough for you too. Sorry, but it’s not going to happen.

Elijah doesn’t buy it and instead responds with, BUT FIRST make me some bread and then God will supply you and your son with more than enough for each day.

The widow says WHEN I get more food, THEN I’ll give you something to eat.

Elijah says nope, it doesn’t work like that with God. BUT FIRST give me all you have, and then God will supply you with all you need. It’s a reversal on our human logic. When I get more money, then I’ll give more away. When I get more time, then I’ll do what God is calling me to do.

When I…. then I …. That’s logical, right?

But here God is calling the widow to step outside of the “WHEN, THEN” and faithfully live in the “BUT FIRST.”


Those 2 little words are pretty powerful if you stop and think about it. Those words cause me to live in the present. To trust when I’m lost and confused. To give when I’m empty. To let go when I’m clinging. To embrace when I’ve forgotten.


I can’t help but wonder how applying these 2 little words to my daily life would impact not only my faith but also the way I embraced and lived each day.

If I stopped saying to God, “When ….. then…..”

And instead chose to say “but first.”

I’d be lying if I said my life wasn’t ridiculously busy and complicated right now. Sometimes I have days so full with joy and hope and love that I can barely hold it in. And others… well, I feel like I am doing all I can to not drown in the craziness of this season.

But what if my hope and focus wasn’t on the next “fill in the blank” that was going to make my life a little easier and instead on embracing the BUT FIRST of each day.

BUT FIRST I will be the mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend I want to be… despite the schedules, craziness, and busyness surrounding me.

BUT FIRST I will fully live in each day I have been blessed with.

BUT FIRST I will use the little time, resources, energy, love, faith, and hope I have TODAY. One day a time.


Those are the 2 little words I’m seeking to live by today.


Finding Brave.

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about stories.  How we each have common threads or challenges throughout our journey.  & Sometimes, as it did for me, only in telling our stories or journeys can we truly see that thread.

About a month ago in of my Sermon Challenges, I encouraged people to think through a “I once was, but now I am” statement that represented their journey   This was my simple way of encouraging people to begin telling their stories. (If interested, here’s the link to the SERMON and CHALLENGE).  And the statement God led me to was, “I once was fearful, but now I am learning to be brave.”

Pretty quickly, God used this sermon/challenge to in return challenge me (this happens more often that I would prefer). Joy.

But here’s what he (very clearly) revealed… my common thread of FEAR.

Fear to take the steps God is calling me to do take.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear to fully trust in the Lord and where it is that he might leading me. Fear.  Fear has caused me plenty of anxiety, frustration, and anger.

It has allowed me to forget who I am and Whose I am.  It had made me believe my work/good deeds solely hinge on my ability to hold it all together so that I can accomplish all I am required to do.

I’ve stood still far too many time crippled by the questions of “what if,” “how,” and “are you sure God” only to be reminded time and time again that it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the God I serve.

And I’m starting to wonder if the sooner I believe that (really believe that), the sooner I would find this BRAVE thing people keep talking about.

& Yet again, Timothy and Kathy Keller, in their book The Songs of Jesus kicked my spiritual butt in their simple prayer for courage.  Here’s their prayer:

“Lord, give such a sense of your living reality in my life that I live a more fearless life.  Fear is just thinking of myself and my abilities instead of having my mind focused on you.  Give me enough love for you to be brave. Amen (Keller & Keller, October 12). ”

Add that prayer with a side of the song, No Longer a Slave by I Am They, & you have my weekly challenge and conviction on finding brave.  Love (& hate) it when God does this.

But seriously, I love how Keller describes fear as thinking of ourselves and abilities MORE THAN our focus on Christ.  The simplicity of the statement, “Give me enough LOVE for you to be brave,” gets me.

How differently would mine, would our, lives look if we spent LESS time focused on the wind and waves and storms surrounding us and MORE on the creator of the wind and waves and storms?

How incredibly simple but yet profoundly difficult to live.

& So my challenge is this… to fix your gaze on the creator not the chaos that surrounds you. On the spirit & not your ability. On the power of God & not your lack of it.

Because the more we accept how small and significant we are, the more we can embrace God’s strength and power.

I want to leave you with the lyrics of the song No Longer a Slave by I am They and hope they challenge and inspire you as much as they did me.  And side note, if you have time I strongly encourage you listen to their song.  & yes, it will 100 percent be in a sermon one day;)

From my mother’s womb
You have chosen microsoftcouponcode.com shop me
Love has called my name
I’ve been born again
Into your family
Your blood flows through my veins

I am no longer a slave to fear// I am a child of God

I am surrounded
By the arms of the Father
I am surrounded
By songs of deliverance
We’ve been liberated
From our bondage
We’re the sons and the daughters
Let us sing our freedom

You split the sea
So I could walk right through it
My fears were drowned in perfect love
You rescued me
and I will stand and sing
I am a child of God

(Listen HERE if you’d like.)


Sit on a Mountain.

Recently (like last weekend), I had a Presbytery meeting in Greeley, Colorado.  & For months Tommy and I talked about wanting to take Delle with us to Colorado, stay a few days after my meetings and spend some time celebrating Delle’s 3rd birthday.  Every time we looked, tickets were too expensive and so eventually we moved on from it. Until… this procrastinator looked online at tickets a WEEK before I was planning on leaving; $130 round trip, direct flight to Denver. Boom.  We got back on plan A and decided to take Delle to Colorado with us.

Honestly, I could go on and on about how amazing of a trip this was and how there was something so sweet about spending some one on one time with Delle.  But for the sake of this being way too long of a post about how much I am obsessed with my daughter, I’ll spare you the details.

But here’s what cracked me up during our trip; all Delle wanted to do in Colorado was to go find a mountain… and SIT ON IT.

It was the weirdest thing.  & for the life of me, I cannot figure out where she got this from.  But she was obsessed. Really… like every mountain we saw; she wanted to SIT on it.

Tommy and I died laughing over and over again when Delle would see a mountain, point to it, and say, “I want to go sit on it.” Where she got this, I have no idea. But she was convinced that we needed to find a mountain, climb it, and then SIT on it.

Here’s the kicker/lesson/reason I’m writing about this… my knee jerk answer was to say, “No Delle, you can’t sit on the mountain- It’s too high, too long of a hike, too big.” Or correct her- “No Delle, we don’t SIT on mountains, we just climb them.”

So, what’s the point (or really why on earth am I telling you this story)?

>>> Because, I want Delle’s bravery. <<<

The bravery to see something big and beautiful and want to go after it.  To accomplish it. To embrace it. And not just that… but SIT ON IT.  Embrace it. Live on it, rest in it.

& that’s not a word you hear much these days… REST. But sitting involves rest. It involves taking in a moment, experience, or accomplishment.  So I desire to SIT, to rest in the accomplishments I’ve made and be brave enough to go after more.

And I want this not just for me but for my daughters as well.

To encourage them to dream and to dream big, impossible things… not just the things that are easy, accepted, or normal.

In fact, I don’t want them to be or live normal, easy lives.  Actually that was a lie.  Yes, I do deep down in my heart, want their lives to be easy and normal. I want to protect them, put them in a bubble so no one will ever disappoint, hurt, embarrass, or discourage them.

But more than that deep desire to protect, I have a piercing passion for them to love the Lord with the kind of love that cannot be contained, understood, or quenched.

The kind of love that embraces a challenge.  The kind of love that is so brave and aware that when God says “Go,” they Go.  When God says “Climb,” they climb. And when God says “Sit,” they sit.

Bravery.  It’s not easy.  It’s terrifying.   And it’s the most exciting adventure you (or those you love most) can embark upon.

So, the point and my challenge… to go sit on a quickbustenhancement mountain.

That’s all. Now seriously… go SIT.


Desiring Devotion.

Recently I wrote a post for the Moms at Hope blog & really loved how God challenged the mess out of me as I processed all I have been learning. Thought you all would like to read an excerpt of that post;) Here ya go….

Desiring Devotion.

A few years back Tommy and I decided to go on a European adventure before we began our journey as parents. This was one of my favorite pictures of that trip. I’m not really sure why. I have pictures of the Vatican and coliseum and those cute little gondolas you ride on a romantic “after dinner splurge”… but this picture has always stuck with me. I think it’s the simplicity… the focus and ease of it all. It’s just Tommy and I looking at the some pretty incredible scenery, on a random bench, while in Switzerland taking in our time together. Simple.

Actually, we almost didn’t get this picture. And to be 100 percent honest, it wasn’t even my idea; it was my sister-in-law’s. She’s got a good eye for photo ops. It just happened as we all were hiking, talking, and F U L L Y  taking in one of the most beautiful places we have ever seen.  It was one of the most “fully present” moments of my life.

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the early church. About how they lived, loved, and impacted their community.

During my time in seminary, one of my favorite classes was Introduction to New Testament. I partially loved this class because of the teacher– she was insanely gifted and really made the New Testament come alive for me. But really I loved this class because I got to look at the life of Jesus and the early church in a completely new light.

I saw how radically different AND irresistible the early church was.

I saw how the church was the ONLY place (during this time) where people, who had nothing in common, would come together, share a meal, and really just hang out.

And that uniqueness, that diversity, that love & respect– is partially what got people so excited and curious about the church. About Jesus. About the gospel.

I mean seriously, people couldn’t get enough of it.

There were tax collectors, rabbis, prostitutes, children, women, slaves, and fisherman who’s LIVES were being changed…. And they, in turn, were changing other people’s lives. It was an irresistible movement.

And not only was there excitement and diversity and unity… but there was  D E V O T I O N.

They were committed to the cause AND to each other.

I just love the beautiful depiction of the early church in Acts 2:42-43.

Acts 2:42-43

They DEVOTED themselves to this website the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 

The early church was DEVOTED to learning and fellowship and prayer. The word “devoted” literally means: “to concentrate on a particular pursuit, occupation, purpose, or cause.”

Meaning… the early church was DEVOTED, focused, concentrated on pursuing and maintaining knowledge, fellowship, and prayer.

They were DEVOTED to it.

So often I feel like I am more “divided” than “devoted.”

I am divided into a million little tasks and plans for the day. Divided into lunches and dinners; work schedules and nap schedules; meetings and grocery shopping and cleaning the house… divided.

And so the things that need my full  [D E V O T I O N]  get lost in the mix of my divided heart.

Things like being DEVOTED in my time alone with the Lord. Or being DEVOTED in my time with my girls & husband & family & friends. D E V O T I O N.

But what if I had a devoted heart instead of a divided one?

What if I took on less to be devoted to more?

In the Acts passage, right after it says the early church was DEVOTED, it follows it up with, Everyone was filled with AWE at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.”

Their devotion caused AWE. It caused miracles. It caused lives to be changed.

We live in a world that says “more is more” and well “less is less.” The more you take on, the better you become. The harder you work, the greater you’ll be.

The less you do, the worse you’ll become. A slow life is a boring life.

Busy is god and less is for the weak.

I’m starting the feel like “busy” is the new normal (and expected) response when asked, “how are things?”

But what if we were less busy and more devoted?

Less divided and more devoted?

What would our lives… our souls look like?


I can’t help but be challenged, time and time again, when I read the scriptures and see that God doesn’t use the greatest, most qualified people to do his work…. He uses the DEVOTED people.

The people devoted to seeking and following after his heart.

And ultimately that’s my hope and prayer every day… that God uses me. That he causes [AWE] through my simple, ordinary little life.

& So my challenge this week is this:

more devotion, less division.

I want to focus on devoting myself, my heart, to a FEW things and begin saying “no” to the stuff that divides, that distracts… that keeps my soul from tuning in to God & the life I so desperately desire to be devoted to.


Practicing Gratitude.

So I’m just going to start by being honest… this week was T O U G H.

Like really tough.  Delle (my almost 3 year old) had meltdown after meltdown after meltdown.  Hagen (the 1 year old) was super needy, clingy, teething (the trifecta).  Work was crazy. Life was busy. You know this web the drill.

So here’s my confession…  I failed.

Big time.  Like lost my patience/temper/and sanity in the process.  According to Daniel the Tiger (which I also let Delle watch way too much of)… I needed to “take a deep breath and ask for help.”  That s&^* doesn’t work for adults. I took a million deep breaths, asked for help, and got nowhere.

But then, as I am sitting at our dining room table trying to cram in a few extra minutes of work in a quiet moment.  Delle is sitting accross from me, recovering from her epic meltdown.  And then, out of the blue, Delle gets out of her seat, comes over to me, and crawls in my lap.  She cuddles with me. Tells me how much she loves. And wants to be near ME (the impatient, exhausted, distracted, emotional mess of a mom).

These are the moments in life that get me.  The ones where I am so clearly shown such pure love and joy in the middle of my chaotic, emotional mess.  Yes, I know this seems minor.  And not really “blog-worthy.”  But here’s what happened almost as soon as Delle crawled into my lap… I was instantly flooded with an overwhelming peace and reminded of Psalm 118:24.

Psalm 118:24 (ESV); “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

I hugged Delle.  I soaked in our really sweet 5 minutes.  And was challenged on my gratitude.  On my “rejoicing” and “being glad” (or really the lack thereof) in the present moment.

Quite frankly, this was an odd time to be reminded of gratitude. But sometimes that’s how God works.  And if his subtle, peaceful prompting wasn’t enough, I opened my “The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms,” by Timothy and Kathy Keller.  This is is what they said:

“Actually every day that your heart keeps pumping, your country is not invaded, and your brain keeps functioning is wholly an underserved gift of God.  We ought to live simple, normal, uneventful days full of amazed, thankful joy (September 30).”

I just love that, “We ought to live simple, normal, uneventful days FULL of amazed, thankful joy.”  So God, hint taken.  I need a gratitude adjustment.  And am now striving to BEGIN (baby steps right?) developing a more grateful heart…  And here’s how:  5 things at the end of every day. That’s all. Just 5.

At the end of each day, I am writing down the “TOP 5” moments I am thankful for.

It’s a simple, small step that I know I need to take.  It reminds me to be grateful because everyday is a NEW day.  A new day filled with new opportunities, new trials, new tests, and new moments where Delle curls up on my lap and tells me how much she loves me.  And I want to remember those… not the stuff that wore me out.

It’s easy to get broken down by the tensions and trials and tests of this life (and especially motherhood).

And all too often that where my perspective stops.  That’s what my mind almost immediately get locked in on… the “hard stuff.”

But I’m finding that through the lens of gratitude my heart is softened and my emotions eased.

& That’s what I need more of.  A softened heart and a whole lot of “eased emotions.”

So that’s all for today.  Just a simple reminder to find ways to PRACTICE GRATITUDE, to thank God for the good and a challenge to begin developing a grateful attitude.


Learning to See.

A week ago I spoke on Jesus healing the man born blind at the Stirring (you can listen HERE if interested;) & to be honest, it was one of those sermons where I felt like God was really speaking directly to me.

I felt challenged and shaped and pushed in my own journey and walk…. & I hated it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love it when God works on me through the sermon preparation process… but deep down, I really hate it.  It’s tough and stretches me to apply the very words I challenge others to live by.

A while back I prayed a prayer (that I’m now partially regretting).  I prayed, “God never let me preach what I’m not willing to live.” Good prayer.  Good motto. Super tough to live.

But really, I am painfully grateful for this process.

God uses it to take me to the very depths of a passage or lesson or word that he desires to bring to the people.  & It forces me to be a part of the struggle and joy and pain. And for that, I am truly thankful and a better person.

And so- sometimes this process, this journey, these knock, down, drag out sermons leave me stuck on a verse or lesson that God is teaching me.

& Here’s where I’m stuck now >>> John 9:1.


John 9:1,

As he went along, he SAW a man blind from birth.”


This is a super short sentence.  Making a pretty simple statement.  With an incredibly profound implication.

Jesus SAW.

He saw a man overlooked, lost, forgotten by the rest of the world.  He saw a man who likely sat in the same place, every day, surrounded by the same community.

But… Jesus saw.

He noticed something everyone else overlooked. Passed by. Forgot about.

Recently I’ve been thinking about how a lot of my issues or challenges in life have less to do with the “stuff” that happens to me but more about the vision through which I SEE the “stuff.”

That it’s not necessarily about the “stuff” but about my perspective in the middle of the stuff.  It’s about my vision, perspective, and focus.

This past weekend I attended a moms conference in Nashville, TN.  It was great spending time with some leaders and being challenged by some incredible speakers and breakout sessions.

But here’s the one talk that really stuck with me…  It was simple. & short.  & incredibly profound.  It was the testimony of a young girl, Jen Barrick.

She told of how a devastating car wreck left her with a severe brain injury causing her to only have short term memory.  It was a pure miracle she was survived.  But here’s the kicker… she is using (and seeing) her tragic circumstance as an OPPORTUNITY.

An opportunity to live fully in each day.  An opportunity to share the love and joy and peace found in Christ.

How odd… a teenage girl finding such joy in such a challenging situation.  If it was me (a full on grown up)… I’d be angry, confused, hurt.  And if I’m really honest… I’d probably blame God.  Not Jen (a teenager!) and her family.  It has taught them more about living fully in each moment, in each day they are blessed with it.  It is teaching them to be thankful and find joy in the little things.

It has helped them to SEE.

See the thespyexpert.com joy and blessings and opportunity that surround each day.

Where I see difficulty, pain, & trials… Jen saw opportunity.  An opportunity to fully live and speak of the JOY she has.  Her injuries left with a clear disability and she saw it as an opportunity to be different, to embrace who she is and who God is calling her to be.

Her mother shared how often times when she is overwhelmed or confused about the challenges/trials/pain in life, Jen will jokingly tell her how her brain gets in the way and how she might need a brain injury to help her trust God better.

Jen can’t remember much about her past or present.  & that “challenge” seen by many has instead allowed her to live more fully in the very moment she is experiencing and more easily trust God each step of the way.

Each day is a new day. A new OPPORTUNITY for love, hope, and joy.

This was such an incredible challenge for me.  I too, like Jen’s mother, let my brain get in the way of trusting God.  I dwell on my past.  I worry about my future.  And I am so distracted by this worry and fear that I can’t fully live in the present.

This worry and fear and pain blurs my vision.  It keeps me from SEEING the opportunities that lie in each day, each person I am blessed to encounter.

So this is my current challenge and prayer: to SEE.

To see people, situations, challenges not as obstacles in my journey but as opportunities.  As the very things God is using in my life to mold and shape and form me into the person he is calling me to be.

However, learning to see isn’t easy.  It takes time and patience and lots and lots of change of plans.  So that’s also my prayer… for an extra dose of time and patience & patience & patience. Oh and did I mention PATIENCE;) ?!




i’m not a writer.

I’m not. Really. I joined the spelling bee club in middle school solely because I heard they had snacks. It ended up being a bummer of an “after school activity” because I spent the majority of the time eating cookies and listening to everyone else spell words I had never heard of. Plus side, they let you eat cookies no matter how terrible you are… or how quickly you get out.

I am terrible at spelling. And English. And writing sentences (right now my computer is telling “fragment, consider revising”). Most of the time I’m not sure if I should add a comma or period or semi-colon. And so, when in doubt (or for dramatic effect), I just opt for the “triple period”…

But here’s the thing… ever since I can remember, I wrote. I wrote in journals. I wrote on paper. I wrote on windows, tables, walls… you name it- I probably wrote on it. I can’t help it. I have this odd obsession with desperately needing to process my thoughts, feelings, and experiences through writing.

Closing my eyes and praying always made me sleepy and distracted. I still struggle with it (if we’re being honest).

Writing, however, makes me focused, energized, excited. I feel in tune with God and what it is he’s saying or revealing to me.

Writing makes my world make sense.

But this was just between me and God. No one else. Then one day God started pushing me to write. To tell the world what it is he’s telling me. That freaked me out. Me? Jessica Morris? My major is in psychology and bible NOT writing or publishing or marketing or anything that qualifies me to write.

Ministry, yep. Speak, sure. Write…. no. I fought it. In fact, I’m still fighting it. I guess I just eventually gave up fighting God. I’ve learned 2 very critical facts throughout my journey:

  1. God ALWAYS wins.
  2. God ALWAYS wins.

So I gave up. & am now publicly expressing to you my defeat. But here’s what I love (and sometimes fight) about God… He doesn’t work like I want him to. He doesn’t always pick the smartest or fastest or prettiest or best of the best. In fact, it’s usually the opposite. He picks the nobody’s. The misfits. The ones who have been forgotten, neglected, overshadowed. The ones who can’t speak or write or sing or lead.

Think about it; Abraham constantly doubted God, Moses hated speaking, David was a nobody, Rahab was a prostitute, Paul was a murderer… I mean the list goes on and on. God is constantly using people who don’t fit the bill.

But here’s who God does use… obedient people.

People who are seeking and following and are obediently devoted to passionately living out God’s will. Do they do it perfectly, 100 percent of the time? Nope. Not even close. But they try. And they push. And they obediently press on even when it seems like God has called them to do the impossible.

So the point is this, yeah I wish I was more confident or poetic or faithful or intelligent or… fill in the blank and I wish I had more of it. But the thing I’ve learned along the way is that

God does his best work in my deepest insecurities.

& The more I let God use my weaknesses, the more I get glimpses into how big and mighty and powerful God really is.

So I guess, in a weird way, that’s what this blog is for me. Me putting aside my insecurities and doubts and inabilities and allowing God to speak through the words he’s placed on my heart. And that is something I am and can be confident in; God’s word.