After breakfast, all the kids grab their shoes and coats for “Audrey’s walk”. She’s our littlest girl and we give her the first hour of the day. We make sure she gets fresh air, a little stretch-of-the-legs, a few nursery rhymes and a few songs about Jesus.


Each step with Audrey is a baby step. I walk slowly by her side, holding her hand, remembering that these little, slow steps are valuable because she is valuable. I love these morning strolls.

Sometimes, the older kids grab bikes and scooters. They zip down the sidewalk and return again. Sometimes, they fall off their bikes (one little boy, in particular) and wait until Audrey and I – step by step – catch up to them and get them back on their feet.


We pass by our neighbor’s prolific rose bush. Even in these late months, the roses continue to bloom and thrive. We stop and admire it every day.  I gather the children around and show them how the rose bush is different today: things have changed.

Look kids… today’s bloom was yesterday’s bud!


They ooh and aah.

We can see the dramatic change – the opening, the growing, the beauty – and they marvel with me. We’re happy for that little-bud-all-grown-up.


And look, kids… yesterday’s bloom has changed, too. It is shrinking, losing its vibrant color.

(“And yet,” my oldest daughter points out, “it is beautiful. And it still smells so good!”)


While I have their attention, I say, “People are like these blooms. We’re all at different stages in life. And we’re all changing from day to day.

Some of us are just starting out, just beginning.  

Some of us are in our prime, the most beautiful we will ever be.

And, some of us are coming to the end of our lives here on earth.

The most important thing to remember is that no one knows which one they are.

My dear little children, how then should we live?”

With great love for our Maker and for one another!

We should bloom and enjoy it!

We should glorify God in every season! With every minute He gives us!

We should take time with people whose steps are slow.

We should go slowly and see the world anew.


And, (as Audrey hitches a ride on Vivienne’s scooter), we should invite others to zip along with us, figuring out a way to help them feel the wind in their hair and the joy of the ride.


So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!

– selections from Psalm 90

Posted in All Posts, Character Training, Early Elementary Education, Learning at Home, Motherhood, Physical Activity, Preschool, Things to Say | Comments Off on What I Teach My Children About Time


(Our little boy watering sunflowers at a nearby arboretum.)

It’s one thing to repent of idolatry.

It’s another thing to repent of worshiping God as if He were an idol.

Lately, this has caught my attention.

When God delivered the Israelites from Egypt and led them to the Promise Land, He told them that they must not worship Him the way other people worship their gods.

“Be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.” You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things that the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.” – from Deut. 12

Biblical history shows that the Israelites struggled with this, including Jephthah – the Judge who offered his daughter as a burnt sacrifice as a means of worshiping God. Though Jepthah was serving God and praying to God, he was thinking like a Canannite.

His mistake had devastating consequences.

It’s easy to see the error of Jephthah’s ways, but I’m discovering that I do the same thing.

I find that my worship of God is often inspired and informed by the way the world worships its gods. Perhaps we all do this from time to time. Perhaps we think,  “If the world is sacrificing holiness, covenantal relationships, and familial responsibility to serve Achievement, Fame, and Money, I’ll offer the same thing to God. He’ll love it.” That sounds a bit extreme, but after some soul-searching, we may discover that it is how we think more often than not.

It’s possible that when we think we’re worshiping God, we’re really just giving Him something that he hates.

I have been worshiping God this way for far too long and I am humbled by the realization.

For me, it sometimes looks like this: instead of offering my love for writing and teaching to God in the context of His character and His laws, I strive to offer them to Him the way the world offers them to its gods. I sacrifice my prayer time, my Bible study, my marriage, and my children to offer God something “Bigger! Better!”

All the while, the Holy Spirit convicts and warns me, “Imagine what could die if you offered that unnecessary sacrifice!” 

Jephthah’s tragic worship is a mirror to my soul.

I need to constantly renew my mind, to remember what God truly wants from His worshipers.

This one aspect – worshiping God in the way He wants – affects every single thing in our lives. For me, it determines how I interact with my husband, how I mother my children, how I invest in our local church, how I spend time with my friends, what I read, what I write, how I work, what I play, and how I live.

These 2 questions bring me back to worshiping God as God. Their answers are our soul’s food and drink day after day; our understanding of them will never reach a limit.

  1. What is God’s character?
  2. What are God’s laws?

So, we open up our Bibles with prayerful hearts… and worship God as God.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:1-2

Posted in All Posts, Bible Teaching, Marriage, Motherhood | 5 Comments


(Three of God’s great gifts to me…)

‘You know when God seems to place a word or idea everywhere you look?

That’s how it’s been with me and repentance. I’m still thinking about it, especially while we’re still studying the book of Judges.

It’s not easy to repent of idolatry because it’s not easy to spot idols.

I want to share the 2 questions that help me to identify the idols that lure me away from Jesus:

  1. What will make everything better?

    In my private thought-life, from moment to moment, what do I really think will satisfy my cravings, heal my wounds, and save the day? This is my hope; it’s what I think will rescue me. If it is not Jesus, it is an idol and it will not rescue me the way I think it will. I find that I often rely on Comfort, Achievement, or Affirmation to make everything better.What is it for you?
  2. What makes you feel oppressed and crushed?Interestingly, every time the Israelites worshiped another nation’s gods, that nation enslaved and crushed them – often for years. Instead of quickly identifying their idolatry as the cause of their infliction, they often immersed themselves further into idol worship. Perhaps they were hoping that the idols would make everything better (sound familiar?). Could their idols reach out and save them? No. Instead, the opposite occurred: the hand of their oppressor WAS the hand of their idol. 

    I considered this pattern and did some soul searching: What consumes me? What stresses me out? What crushes my passion for Christ and joy for living? My answers often lead me to an idol. For example, sometimes I feel stressed-out, over-worked, over-stimulated, and over-committed to goals, ideals, and tasks. Under all of that oppression is my longing for Achievement. I want Achievement so badly that I’ll surrender many things to its appetite. Yet, I always feel overwhelmed by its demands and I can never quite grasp Achievement sufficiently.The worst part is that when I’m fixated on Achievement, the gifts God has given me seem like obstacles and distractions instead of, well, gifts.

    It took me days to meditate on these questions and prayerfully repent. I used Psalm 51 as a guide, reminding me that God loves a broken and contrite heart. I hope I’ll continue to live in repentance, constantly turning away from the world and turning toward Jesus.

    You’ll love the model of the Apostle Paul’s repentance: he said that his serious addiction to self-righteousness, false piety, appearance, and achievement were garbage compared to worshiping and knowing Jesus. (You can read about it in Philippians 3:4-11). He’s right: when we repent of idols, we not only cast aside the worldly destractions, but we also gain the joy of treasuring Christ. We realized that there is no comparison.

    When Jesus is on the rightful throne of my heart, all is well.

    I’m sharing this with you in hopes that you may enjoy a time of repentance, too. Will you let me know about it? 


Posted in All Posts, Bible Teaching, Judges, Motherhood | 1 Comment

This month, as I studied the story of Jephthah – one of Israel’s judges – I had to put down my pen, stop filling in the study guide blanks, and sit long with God. There were things tucked in that story that needed my real-time response; there were things that I could only learn through private and open conversation with our Heavenly Father.

For five months, I had been extensively studying Israel’s cyclical return to idolatry, yet I had not yet once repented of my own idolatry. How sobering to be stopped with my pen poised in the air, ready to complete my Bible Study homework, when the Holy Spirit had to grab my attention and point out my oversight. Yet, how beautiful and good it was to repent and receive God’s forgiveness.

Do you need to stop everything and repent of idolatry today?

In this lesson, I share 4 things that every Christian must do in order to thrive, including repent. I recently taught this lesson at our weekly women’s Bible Study. (We’re studying Judges this year, using Jen Wilkin’s wonderful study guide and audio lessons. I prepare a lesson once a month to learn more about teaching the Bible; this one focuses on Judges 11:29-40, the story of Jephthah’s vow.)

I’d be honored if you’d join me as I share what I learned about this Old Testament story (including what historians consider the first annual women’s conference) and how it applies to our lives today.

YouTube Preview Image


After the lesson, my friend Kimberly led us in Be Thou My Vision.

YouTube Preview Image


And, here’s a link to a lesson on Judges 5: Deborah and Barak’s Victory Song.

May you and I worship the one true God together.


Posted in All Posts, Bible Teaching, Judges | 2 Comments


“God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

– from Ephesians 2

This summer, when we moved into our new home, I was outside making sense of the flowerbeds when I heard someone say, “Hello, Laura! Welcome to the neighborhood!” That’s when I met Heather Holleman, the author of the lovely, profound, impactful book, Seated with Christ.

Heather and I were friends from that very first moment. As we exchanged our first hellos, Heather said, “Don’t worry, I normally look way cuter than this.” I considered my weeding scrubs and said, “Oh, me, too!” Ours is a budding friendship, but it’s a delightful one that spans all topics from cuteness to Christlikeness.

Seated with Christ is hot off the press and beginning to make its way to people all over the world. I’m convinced that it will make a profound impact on the Church as women (and men) read it; our minds will be renewed and we’ll remember our great calling in Christ.

I highly (highly, highly) recommend this book to you. In case you don’t know Heather, I’ll fill you in: she is a “walking exclamation mark” and she is 100% genuine to her message. She is an inspiring example of a woman who actually lives seated with Christ. But, when you read Seated with Christ, you won’t be focused on Heather, you’ll be focused on Jesus Himself.

She writes, “When we see ourselves this way — as seated at the table and called to complete the tasks God assigns us — we stop working so hard for acceptance. We stop caring about prestige. We no longer need to make a name for ourselves, because we’re completely absorbed in Christ and the kingdom. In this setting, we cease measuring ourselves against any other person. Why would we? We have our own seat, our own calling, and our own tasks. Plus, we’re interdependent with one another, seated all together to make a holy dwelling place.” (p. 29)

You’ll love it…


Posted in All Posts | 1 Comment


Last night was the first time in history that I sent one of our kiddos to bed without a bedtime snack. For our 4-year-old son – the one with the hearty appetite – this was devastating.

The historical punishment came at the end of a long day of whining; the kind of day in which I was scrambling to satisfy everyone without much success. So, when my bedtime buffet (!) of a big bowl of popcorn, apple slices, roasted almonds, AND chocolate coconut cookies wasn’t good enough for that sweet boy, I snapped.

Watch out. Momma’s mad.

If this snack isn’t good enough for you, you get no snack at all.

Up to bed with you, son.

As he trudged up the stairs, that boy cried.  He was sorry in a million ways: sorry for his growling stomach, yes, but also sorry for his disrespectful attitude. I know he loves me and feels crushed when he has done something wrong. I checked in to see how he was doing in his bedtime prep. He was bawling while brushing his teeth. (Have you ever done that? Not easy.)

Once he crawled in bed, I walked over and held him in my arms. He settled in and settled down.

Eventually, I said,

“Look, son, you cannot live your life always wanting more than what is offered to you. If you always want the sweetest dessert, the biggest gift, the best seat, the most toys, the funniest movie, and the most exciting friends, you will explode. We were not created to get the biggest and the best all of the time. Even though we feel like we want it, we will die if we live like that. Learn this while you’re young: be content with what you have. When someone gives you food, it’s good enough. Eat it gratefully.”

He nodded his adorable head.

I set our Kindle on his nightstand so he could listen to Scripture lullabies as he went to sleep. (Something had to drown out that rumbling tummy! Besides, like all of us, his longing for the biggest and best can only be filled by God. I knew these Words would renew his heart and mind.)

Later, Ryan and I sat on the couch downstairs, discussing the day. I asked, “Did you get that email?” He knew exactly what I was talking about. We had both received a shocking newsletter from a blog that we’ve recently discovered. This email changed our minds about the author entirely. The content was terrible – pornography sent to our inboxes. We both admitted that the content was like a snare; we read more than we would have liked because we were trying to figure it out: we were lost in a what is this?? fog.  In short, the email contained a story from a man who is on a mission to get the best for himself: his project is to blend the best of monogamy and promiscuity.  He revealed his insatiable appetite for the newest, most beautiful, youngest, most scandalous, most exciting sexual life possible. Besides, he said, scientists have proven that monogamy is boring and not natural.

Our first impulse was to push against his conclusions, to say, “Monogamy’s the awesomest! You have no idea.” We wanted to prove that it’s the best, most exciting, most beautiful experience – way better than his anything-goes clubs.

But is it?

Isn’t part of monogamy’s beauty that it’s free of superlatives? That it’s good enough

Isn’t part of monogamy’s goodness that two humans have made a supernatural choice to be satisfied with one another.

To enjoy the newness, the oldness, the beauty, the average, the exciting, the not-so-exciting moments of loving one person day after day after day.

To stop hungering for the superlatives out there.

To humbly say, “I’m content with this sweet thing at home.”

I see a beauty in monogamy that far outshines promiscuity, but it requires a strength and courage that only God can give.

I thought about my words to the hungry little boy upstairs – who by now is sleeping peacefully – and I thought, I need to repeat this lesson for him day after day after day. I need to teach him how to say, “Thank you. I’m content with what you have given me.”

May God give each of us – me, Ryan, and the boy who will eat a GINORMOUS breakfast today – the strength and courage to say those words about all things, forever. And may we turn our voracious appetites to Jesus – who will satisfy them abundantly.

“Thank you. I’m content with what you have given me.” 

The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
6The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

7I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.d
8I have set the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

9Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole beinge rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
10For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.f

11You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

-from Psalm 16


Posted in All Posts | 4 Comments

Syria and My Prayerlessness



My heart sank on Sunday morning when someone prayed aloud for the Syrian refugees.

I had forgotten all about them.

When the news broke in late summer, I gathered the children around me and showed them some of the photographs and stories of people who were fleeing for their lives. We prayed for them right then and there. The Ice Cream Truck drove by our window and I noticed that we each silently told our bodies to sit back down! and resist the siren call. Instead, we turned our eyes to Heaven and said, “Heavenly Father, please let us know if there is something we can do to help”.

That night during bedtime prayers, we sat in a circle and prayed for the people of Syria.

The next day, my sister sent us a link to a list of supplies that we could send. We were delighted: it was something we could do to help. We had an extra sleeping bag and several pairs of like-new shoes. So, we printed the list of needed supplies and gathered as much as we could fit into a big cardboard box. We packed it full, taped it shut, and wrote the address in big, bold letters. We’d take it to the Post Office the next day and send it on its way.

That night during bedtime prayers, we sat in a circle and prayed for the people of Syria.

The next day, we delivered the box to the Post Office. It cost way more than I thought it would and it made me wonder why I didn’t just write a check to a charity and send all that money instead? But, there was compassion packed in there with the sleeping bags and the shoes; someone somewhere needed our humble box of supplies to arrive in the mail. So, I paid the postal worker and the box went on its way, across the ocean to Greece.

And ever since then, I haven’t prayed for the people of Syria.

Not once.

Not one single moment.

So I sat in church last Sunday and repented of my lack of compassion.  I repented of the way in which I often think that a nice gesture – a sleeping bag or a pair of sneakers – will solve the problem and exonerate me from further concern. That day when I smiled at the Post Office worker and pushed the box across the counter, I must have subconsciously thought, I did my part! That’ll fix everything. 

As we know, I was wrong. It didn’t fix everything.

How sobering to see the nature of my heart.

These thoughts were still working themselves out last night when I sat at the kitchen table and talked to a friend about our stillbirth experiences. We’re both approaching significant dates on the calendar and we’re both 5 years away from our losses, so it was good to retell our stories. We needed to hear from one another that our “5 Year Anniversary” thoughts and feelings are normal.

We talked about how the time has allowed us to see the miraculous and intricate ways that God has comforted us over time – from the moment of loss up to the present.  We agreed that when we hear of other women losing their babies, we want to give them everything that helped us.

Wouldn’t it be great to pack it all up in a basket and give it to them in one big gesture of love? 

But, no. It wouldn’t be great. Because it doesn’t work that way.

It didn’t work that way for either of us.

The comfort and healing came to us over time. It was a hug on Day 1, a card on Day 2, a meal on Day 7, a flower on Day 24, a raspberry pie on Day 52, a phone call on Day 365, a song on Day 574, and so on.

More than that, it was Jesus working in us and all around us day, after day, after day.

That’s when I thought of our box for the Syrian refugees and I realized that when it comes to loss like this, a box packed full of supplies doesn’t fix the problem.

Don’t get me wrong: the box is necessary and I’m glad we sent it. We must show our love in tangible ways. We must give from our surplus when we see a need. Those tangible gifts will give a person somewhere to sleep and some way to walk, but I must remember that things don’t fix the true problem.

My friend said, “The only thing that fixes a mother’s mourning is to have her baby back. But I can’t do that for her.” 

The only thing that fixes the Syrian crisis is to have their home back. And the peace back. And the life back.

I can’t do that.

Only Jesus can.

That’s why I was crushed that I had forgotten to pray for the Syrian refugees. Because as a child of the King of Heaven, I have a voice before His throne! I can plead for mercy on their behalf, request help and strength for every person, insight and ability to the surrounding Christians. I can pray that the Holy Spirit would be working on the inside of people to give them hope, courage, wisdom, healing, and faith.

Though I may send a box of supplies, Jesus alone may restore their lives. He who knows the name of every Syrian refugee and doesn’t forget about them for a moment – the One who understands the way heaven and earth intertwine – tells us to pray faithfully.

Jesus tells us that our prayers matter.

When I forgot to pray for the Syrian refugees, I didn’t just forget about them. I also forgot about Jesus’ power. I forgot about His compassion toward all who are oppressed. And I forgot that He gave me a wonderful gift: the calling, and the grace to pray faithfully.

May I learn and embrace ways to do this.

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for the Syrian refugees…


Posted in All Posts | 2 Comments


DIT: “Do It Together”

Two are better than one because when one has the idea to make a window seat cushion, the other one will help her. – Personal Proverb

Here’s the tutorial we used (+ a sheet of batting under the fabric):

YouTube Preview Image


Posted in All Posts | Comments Off on My DIY is usually DIT: a Window Seat Cushion


As I aim to grow in love, I’m brushing the dust off of courtesy.  Though the word isn’t used much these days, it couldn’t be more necessary to our culture.

Actually, it’s my new favorite word.

Courtesy is elegant, ageless, and practical.

What’s not to love about “intentional, polite behavior that shows respect for other people”?

For the Christian, courtesy is simply the daily application of biblical commands to love, be kind, and show honor to one another. It’s one of the essential virtues underlying our entire Christian existence. It’s the lesson that women are to teach other women, detailed in Titus 2. It’s a building block of the Christian life, the supportive wife, the loving mother, and the beloved friend. Courtesy is so powerful that it shapes culture, communities, and families.

In fact, we cannot love others well without choosing to be courteous day by day.

The other night, my friend Mary and I talked about the “how to” of courtesy over hot apple cider. We talked about how we can show courtesy in a million different ways – from saying “hello” to another human to being a good listener. The list I scrawled in my journal includes: helping one another, being generous, taking care of personal hygiene, refraining from gossip, and showing up on time.

Surprisingly though, the thing we spent most of our time discussing was the courteous habit of cleaning up after ourselves. (I used to think that this lesson was just for children, but as it turns out, we both found it a necessary and helpful conversation.) We agreed that the simple gesture of cleaning up after ourselves is a profound way to demonstrate the belief that no one is our servant. Cleaning up after ourselves says, “those who come behind me have dignity.”

The belief that no one is my servant is the heartbeat of courtesy.

This has huge implications for my daily choices. Picking up my bath towel, placing my glass in the dishwasher, and throwing away my own garbage takes on enormous value when I am motivated by esteem for my fellow humans. No one is my servant, existing to clean up after me. These seemingly small gestures add up into a life of kindness.

Mary and I talked about how this applies to the way we tend to our emotional and spiritual needs, too.  Is there such a thing as being spiritually courteous? How about emotionally courteous? There must be. We both grimaced about the way we drop our spiritual and emotional needs all over people without much thought, treating them as our spiritual servants.  And we agreed that we expect our “emotional servants” to pick up our anger, anxiety, frustration, and annoyance though we never express grateful, mutual care.

Courtesy is the “how to” of love.

Jesus said He didn’t come to be served, but to serve. When I read the gospels, I see His lifestyle of courtesy – His every gesture demonstrates His respect for the people He created.  And when He lay down His life, He did so without a need for us to clean up after Him, or to finish the job for Him. He completed redemption for us with no strings attached. Jesus serves us day-in and day-out, courteously treating us with love.

Of course, in doing so, He offers forgiveness for our self-centered, self-exalting habits and helps us to grow in the daily sacrificial lifestyle of courtesy.

I’d love to know your thoughts about courtesy. Most of all, how do you like to demonstrate courtesy day to day?


Posted in All Posts | Comments Off on The Surprising Thing about Courtesy

What makes you feel like you will not be used by God?

Sometimes I feel like it’s my responsibilities here at home, even though I know better. Other times I think it’s my quirky shy side that comes out at the most inconvenient times. Or it’s the foolish choices I’ve made in the past.

It seems to me that we have countless reasons to feel discouraged and disqualified, whether it’s genetics, gender, history, abilities, employment, marriage, family, or responsibilities.  When it comes to God’s great and triumphant work, it’s easy to look at ourselves and see how weak and poor we really are. What should we do when life circumstances seem to hold us back, though our hearts are full of love for God?

What should we do when our here-and-now seems like the last thing God would want to use? 

Surprisingly, this question is answered robustly in Judges 5 – Deborah and Barak’s song of victory after a fierce battle.

I recently taught this lesson at our weekly women’s Bible Study. (We’re studying Judges this year, using Jen Wilkin’s wonderful study guide and audio lessons. I prepare a lesson once a month to learn more about teaching the Bible; this one focuses on Judges 5.)

I’d be honored if you’d join me as I share what I learned about this old Old Testament poem (scholars say it may be the oldest Hebrew poem) and how it applies to our lives today.


YouTube Preview Image


After the lesson, we sang this anthem together… 

YouTube Preview Image


Posted in All Posts, Bible Teaching, Judges | Comments Off on You are not disqualified. Here’s why.