Revival Starts Here

This post was mostly written shortly before the revival at Asbury ended (is that even the right word? resolved maybe?).

As I entered our worship center a few Sundays ago, my heart was longing to be at Asbury instead. In fact, most of the past handful of days I had been daydreaming about how I could make it happen. We actually planned a vacation to Kentucky about a month ago, but it isn’t until the end of August! Right now, mid-winter – we’re dealing with work schedules, school, crazy Michigan weather, and various other commitments (because…life). Practically, it just wasn’t adding up…

As worship began that Sunday, over 400 miles away from Asbury, my heart wasn’t quite in it. I love our church, SO much. But that morning I just wanted to be where His presence was, where the thousands of people from all around the nation (the world?) were gathering because they wanted or needed more of Him. I wanted to be in a space where everyone wanted to be there, not just because it was a part of their usual routine or something they were supposed to do.

And then the conviction came. First, it was a gentle nudge to be present in the moment instead of wishing to be somewhere else. Worship Him in the here and now, where I stand. So, I did. Then, as we began to sing Waymaker, I was reminded of the very real truth that God transcends time and location.

“You are here, moving in our midst
I worship You, I worship You
You are here, working in this place
I worship You, I worship You
You are here, moving in our midst
I worship You, I worship You
You are here, working in this place
I worship You, I worship You…”

(emphasis added)

Yes, revival is happening in Asbury (and other places around the country) but He is HERE, His presence is HERE, the Holy Spirit is HERE! Revival starts within myself. And friends, that was one of the most powerful moments of worship I have had in a very long time.

Photo by Christian Dubovan on Unsplash

Now, don’t get me wrong, I know there is something special about believers gathering in one place. I have no doubt that being at Asbury would impact me in ways I cannot even begin to imagine. But I don’t have to drive seven hours, or make a special trip, to be in His presence. He is HERE. He is with me, He is within me!

Oh, how often we take that for granted. Oh, how often we miss the revival that is possible every single day.

I’ve seen so many comments and memes about whether Asbury is genuine. I’m sure we could debate all day. One of the biggest “criticisms” I’ve seen was a comment implying that Asbury was not the real thing: True revival begins with repentance. If you’ve read any of the stories I have, you know that this IS happening at Asbury. Repentance is how a single hour of chapel lasted over two full weeks. Repentance of a few twenty-somethings, striving to be more Christ-like, has sparked a nation-wide revival!

Yes, dear Facebook troll, you are correct, true revival does begin with repentance. That statement rung loud in my mind as I continued to worship Sunday morning. True revival, whether for a nation, a city, or an individual – begins with repentance.

If, like me, you long for that sweet, sweet taste of revival – start within yourself. Search your heart, seek His repentance, and watch the fire of revival ignite, burn, and spread. True revival may not always capture the attention of mainstream media or social media…but it can still change your life, your town/city, and our world!

True revival starts with you. It starts with me.

I challenge you to approach worship this coming Sunday with this attitude: God is moving HERE and NOW. Allow Him to move in you. The spark within you may be just what is needed for a blazing fire of repentance and restoration within the church body He has placed you. Don’t hold back, don’t quench the fire – allow Him to move, allow His presence to overwhelm you, allow a revival in your own soul and see what He can do with it.

What Heaven is Like

This past year I read through a daily devotional by John Eldridge called Restoration Year. Going into 2022, we were leaving a difficult season of our lives. I was wiped out, struggling with depression, exhausted from burn out and criticism, and so much more. Restoration Year popped up in my “suggested” during Christmas shopping at the end of 2021 and I immediately knew I needed it for the coming year. God had spoken a season of rest for us, but I wanted that rest to be productive. I didn’t want to come out on the other side of our “rest” not feeling restored. While the devotional itself has not been earth shattering or life altering, it has caused me to reflect in some new and different ways.

One reflection, specifically, is that of how I view Heaven. I want you to take a minute and ponder that with me for a moment. Seriously – close your eyes and envision what you believe Heaven will actually be like.

What does it look like? What does it smell like? Sound like? What have you been taught? For most of us, the ideas that initially come are those of a life-long worship service. Depending upon your earthly experience, that could be a good thing….or it could be a not-so-great thing. I haven’t been taught much about Heaven, but if I was 100% honest, before really looking at Scripture, before really contemplating all that God has promised – I wasn’t so sure about Heaven. And there was a part of me that questioned what an eternal worship service would be like… Wouldn’t it get boring? Wouldn’t I tire of the same thing over and over and over…literally forever?? And then that voice would nag, Are you serious? How could you ever get bored worshipping Jesus? You’ll finally be in His physical presence after all. No more pain, no more tears. What more could you ask for? And then I would push those thoughts away and move on to something else. Because, after all, at the end of the day, I knew Heaven would be more than I can imagine, so why concern myself with it now?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love me a good worship service. Our multi-site church hosted a joint worship night a couple of months ago. And I STILL feel the specialness of that night. There is something about God’s people coming together to worship because they want to, not because they feel obligated. There is something about singing together and praying together and believing together… “Where two or three are gathered, I am there“(Matthew 18:20). God is always with us, but His presence really begins to show off when we gather together, especially when we gather together for the soul purpose of worshipping and praising Him. And, in those moments, when I’m knee deep in His presence, tears streaming down my face, surrounded by others in the same position, I don’t mind the thought of an eternal worship service. It will be 10x what it is here on earth.

But, you guys, it will also be MORE!

So. Much. More.

Yes, I’m sure we will worship Jesus forever and always. Not just with singing but with our creativeness, our art, our discovery of the beauty He intended for us. Restoration Year has opened my eyes to all that Heaven can be. And the reality is, that even these visions of Heaven on earth, even all that I can imagine, is nothing compared to the reality of what Heaven on earth will actually be.

Two of my new favorite views of Heaven are below, but it is only the beginning of possibility. Dream with me for a minute?

First, I picture a campfire. Not just any old campfire, but the early fall campfires where you sit for hours to soak up some of the last bits of nice weather, where story after story is told and your belly hurts from laughing so much. THIS is community. And if you’ve experienced it, even once, you know how truly wonderful those moments can be. It feels like a little bit of heaven on earth. And, my friends, I believe that’s because it is. When the end of our current world comes, heaven meets earth, and the earth is made new – I fully envision us sitting around a fire with Paul and Peter, laughing at some of the shenanigans they got into on their missionary journeys. Then crying tears of joy moments later as they recall the miracles they experienced first hand. Or another fire where Mary shares the inside details of what it was like to raise a toddler who was, quite literally, God – she will share those moments where He made her chuckle but also share the weight of what it was like to parent the Messiah. Those stories are only the beginning. I truly believe we will have an eternity of so many unbelievable stories. Stories that make us laugh, make us cry (tears of joy, of course), stories that will remind us over and over and over of how wonderfully beautiful His restoration truly is.

And those campfires won’t get rained out, we won’t run out of fireside snacks, and every single relationship around that fire will be exactly what it was intended to be – no worries, no pride, no shame, no conflict – pure, beautiful, fully restored community.

My second view of Heaven is that of the beauty of a restored earth. This is multi-faceted. This includes all of nature – from animals, to canyons, to forests. We will see nature as it was created to be before the fall. We know that the Bible says the lion will lay down with the lamb. But I also believe that means I will be able to snuggle with leopards and run through the field with gazelles and….and…and… the possibilities are literally unending. I mean, I’ve always wanted to go to one of those hotels where I can feed a giraffe through my window or dine on the balcony as they graze around me. That will be our reality.

And it’s not just the animals, it’s all of nature. God gave us beauty to enjoy here on earth today. And you don’t have to look far. There are literally hundreds of state parks and national parks around the country that showcase the wonders God has made for us. Not to mention the places around the world. And that’s beauty on a vast scale. What about the beauty of a backyard sunset? Or the hope and joy that stirs in us when a butterfly lands on our shoulder or a new bird stops at the feeder.

Our family is fairly outdoorsy. While we aren’t avid campers, we do love to hike, adventure, and explore new places. The kids already have their favorite trails that they will ask to go back to time and time again because of something that sparks life in them. There’s nothing quite as exhilarating for me to go to a national or state park and reach that lookout point you were hiking towards. Justin and I hiked Angels Landing in Zion National Park during our tenth anniversary celebration. Now the hike up was beautiful, but very challenging for out-of-shape, chronically-ill Bri. I can’t tell you the amount of times we had to stop to take a break so I could just catch my breathe. And while the view at the top was what awaited us, the beauty along the way was also breathtaking. To walk along the flowing stream and see the water slowly ripple along the edge. Or to walk through the canyon walls, with ledges high on either side, noticing the etching of the rock, or catching areas where the water was slowly seeping through. To step on tree roots that were strong enough to withstand the winds on the side of the cliff face.

But when we got to the top, those views, that moment – absolutely breathtaking. To stand in awe of how small we really are, to be amazed at the sheer beauty of looking across the landscape… Those moments are what heaven will be like. The take-your-breath-away, absolutely unbelievable mountain top moments. God created that beauty. And we get just a taste of it on this side of eternity. Can you imagine what it will be like when nature is fully restored? When we have unlimited access to the entirety of His creation? We won’t need plane tickets or permits. I mean, I’m not sure how we’ll get to all of the far-off and exotic places. Teleportation? Flying? I can only imagine. But what I do know is that the most beautiful things we can imagine will be at our fingertips.’

Heaven, Eternity, New Earth, Beautiful, Adventure, Worship, Art, Creativity, Nature, Beauty
Photo of Angels Landing in Zion National Park by Joshua Gresham on Unsplash

My view of Heaven today has been greatly expanded. Someday there will unlimited exploring and adventures. And when I’m exploring I won’t have to worry about my chronic pain or fatigue getting in the way. Plus, when I come across that herd of mountain sheep, I won’t be nervous that one will charge at me with those massive horns. I’ll be able to walk right up to them, full of confidence in knowing that danger no longer exists.

All of this talk about Heaven and I haven’t even mentioned feasts or the fact that we’ll have all the answers. Because those two things are also incredible!

For now, I want you to grab a journal or close your eyes. What are the things that truly bring you life today? What would it look like for those things, those people, to be fully restored? That is a closer version of what Heaven will be like than anything else we can imagine I think.

Sure, there might be streets of gold and pearly gates – but that is only the beginning of the beauty that awaits us on the new earth.

The most beautiful, life-giving moment or place you can imagine, but fully restored and whole, WITH Jesus at your side. Can you just begin to imagine?

Note to the Reader: In an effort to monetize the blog so that we can take this “thing” further and reach more people, we have begun to include referral links. Anything linked is highly recommended! Thanks for helping us to further the Kingdom.

When God Makes you Laugh Out Loud

God speaks. I take a few days to realize it. And then I laugh out loud.

Anyone else??

For one, I can be pretty dense sometimes. But also, I think He is subtle on purpose: so He knows we’re listening, but also, because He has a sense of humor. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise… Seriously, if someone is offended that you believe God has a sense of humor: “ain’t nobody got time for that!” He created a sense of humor!! And I can guarantee you, He loves to laugh.

So let me tell you the story this time….

For *ahem* awhile, I have felt a nudging to become a licensed/ordained minister. But I never really felt like the time was ‘now.’ And I firmly believe, though I may be in denial, that it wasn’t the right time until…well…I’m getting ahead of myself.

When we moved to Michigan at the end of November, we were both very certain that God had called us to a season of Sabbath. And it has been just the refresher that we needed. I started feeling a nudge to start doing something maybe a month or two ago (writing this on May 2, 2022). But I couldn’t decide what. I love to sing, I like working with kids, and, of course, helping with the coffee bar would be right up my alley…analysis paralysis right?

On the last night of the first small group we attended at our new church, the ice breaker was posed: ‘What is a secret/hidden talent that you have?’ I, of course, was first after the hosts (our pastor and his wife) and could think of absolutely nothing even though I was in a room full of almost perfect strangers. So I asked to pass until everyone else went. Justin kept pushing for me to talk about preaching.

BUT, even though we had purposefully chosen a church that affirmed women in ministry, I know individuals don’t always agree with everything within their church’s belief system (it’s the fundamentals that matter!). And I also know there are people that feel very strongly about women in ministry and I am NOT a confrontational person. In fact, I am very much the opposite. I didn’t want to ruin the budding relationships in the room by throwing in this somewhat controversial topic.

It finally came back around to my turn….I mumbled something about singing and, without thinking too much, mentioned that Justin wanted me to say I could preach. I explained about filling in for my dad at our home church, blah, blah, blah. Our pastor smirked and mentioned something about always having a sermon ready….

And that was that.

Or not….

My mom came to visit over Easter weekend just a few weeks later. I, of course, had to share with her how our pastor is a ‘chicken whisperer’ because my dad, also, loves his chickens. She decided to strike up a conversation with him after service; I came over and heard something about me being able to preach. I made an off-handed comment about how he was supposed to forget that information and then I was off to chasing down my kiddos again (they have certainly become comfortable at our church in the few months we have been there…).

My mom and Gi headed out the next day and the kids and I spent most of the morning being a little homesick and melancholy (let’s be honest, even though we know this move was very God led, it isn’t always easy being 7 hours away from people you love). The afternoon was much the same. It was raining outside, I was curled up on the couch trying to talk myself into reading a book instead of turning on the TV or picking up my phone….when I got a message…

It was our pastor: “You mom mentioned that you have a calling into ministry. I’d like to hear about that some time.”


Hmm. Thanks Mom.

That week after Easter was a whirlwind of emotion. I sent him a long message about how I didn’t know what that looked like in our current season or if I even could right now. Looking back, even a couple weeks later, I can definitely see my fear and lack of dependence on God in that message.

So, I send a long video message to my close friend and mentor back in PA (thank the Lord for Marco Polo) expecting her to sympathize with the situation. Nope – much like when I told her about a potential move to Michigan….she responded quite differently than anticipated. She basically told me it was time to get off my butt and take the next step. I would say it was a bit more polite than that….but she knows when I need to bluntly hear the truth…

Here is the part where it becomes a bit humorous. I had been studying the book of Jonah for the past two weeks without thinking anything about it. Because mom life takes priority a lot of the time, I hadn’t gotten past the first chapter. As I was writing down notes from different commentaries, God reminded me about the book, the very chapter I was studying: Jonah, the prophet that ran from his calling. I started laughing out loud. I think my kids might have thought I was a bit crazier than normal…. But I got the message: It was time: don’t run, lean in.

And so I’m moving forward, even if it is one baby step at a time. Our pastor is already working with us in small ways to prepare for this next journey. I’m terrified. Why? I’m not a huge fan of public speaking. But mostly? I’m a people pleaser. And I know that women in ministry have to have thick skin because criticism comes hot and fast. People are passionate about women not preaching (and apparently not wearing pants or having pixie cuts *insert eye roll here*).

Our family motto, however, has been “Do it afraid.” So I will. I may be trembling, but I’m taking the next steps because I know that HE has called me and HE will never leave my side through it all.

Whether that looks like full time pastoring or simply speaking on occasion while I do ministry in other capacities, I don’t know. Do I actually need a license or ordination? Or does God just want me to be more active? Again, I”m not 100% sure. What I do know is that I have to keep taking the next step.

Instead of running in the opposite direction, making up excuses, allowing fear and the enemies lies to get in the way – I will take the next step, even though I can’t see the whole staircase. He is calling me into the Great Unknown and I cannot wait to see what lies ahead!

Update: It has now been almost 9 months since I originally wrote this post. I can’t say that God has revealed much more to me in this season. I am definitely more involved with our church and I’m being super intentional about shepherding the people God has placed in my life. For now, I am trying to lean into what He is doing, move when He moves, wait when He waits. One step at a time. If I overthink things it can be a bit disastrous for me and everyone else in my life.

Let me know in the comments or an email or on socials how God is moving in your life. I’d love to be praying over that with and for you!

Stones of Remembrance

Writing is how I remember. God often told His people to do things “so that you remember” – stones in the Jordan river (Joshua 3:13-4:3), the celebration of Passover (Exodus 12), communion (Luke 22:19-20), and many more. And let’s be real for a second, even with those symbols of remembrance, His people still had (and have) a hard time remembering…

Photo by Pierre Ducher on Unsplash

Honestly, though, isn’t this why we keep momentos or collect items from gift shops? Ticket stubs, sand from beaches, keychains – we keep something to specifically remind us of that trip, that moment, that event…

Yes, I do keep things (probably too many according to my husband) – but, mostly, to remember, I write. When my kids were babies I wrote a monthly blog post for each of them. Every once in awhile I will go back to that blog and read over different things. It is astounding how much you forget in so short a time!

I also blog about our journey, *ahem*, our voyage in following the Lord. I’ve kind of always done this off and on throughout my years. But I became really intentional about it when we began to feel the Lord leading us to reach young adults and open a coffee shop (that particular chapter of our lives starts here if you are interested in reading about it). It’s really how this whole “Voyage Together” blog got started. There were too many “coincidences” happening that I didn’t want to forget. And when I say “coincidence” I mean, without a doubt, God moments. We don’t believe in coincidence in this family. God is constantly on the move, and we can so often dismiss it as something else… When we have what the world would call a coincidence, we recognize it as a God moment. Sometimes those moments are a HUGE deal, sometimes we’re left wondering why things lined up the way they did. But I am always certain God is up to something and those are the moments I want, no need to pay attention to. Those are the moments I need to remember. So I write them down, or should I say type them?

Often times I write down the mundane as well, or rather, what seems to be mundane. Because when I go back and read it again I can see how God used those mundane, day-to-day moments to shape our lives. Hindsight is 20/20 right?

For instance, my husband and I ran into the same person two days in a row in two different towns in two very different places. Those impressions stick with us. We don’t really know why God chose to cross our paths, but it has put that person at the forefront of our minds, and we have been consistent in prayer for them.

Think about all of the memorials you have seen over your lifetime. For wars fought, for veterans, for lives lost… One of the most impactful memorials I have ever been to was in Oklahoma City of the bombing that occurred in April of 1995. They thought through everything for that memorial. It was all extraordinarily intentional. The one thing that will never leave my mind are the chairs. Where the building once stood, there is now a chair in the lawn for each individual that lost their lives, including smaller chairs for the children, each illuminated from beneath at night (seen to the left in the picture below).

Why do we do this as a society? Why do we create memorials? Because, we want and need to remember, but for some crazy reason, it is so easy to forget.

I want to encourage you to find a way to remember. God knows our memories are faulty, which is why I believe He so often encouraged His people, His followers, to DO something to remember. Actions and visuals stir something more in our minds, I think they alter our brain chemistry just a bit or create a red flag somewhere in our grey matter so that the memory is more lasting.

What has God been doing in your life? What “coincidences” have stuck out to you?

Find a significant way to remember them. Below there is a practical list of ideas. Some of these I have actually used, others are just me brainstorming. But that’s the idea: Get creative, do something that works for you! We were not all created the same and so sometimes it takes something incredibly unique to work for you.

  • Memory Jar – write little moments on slips of paper and place them in a jar – set aside one day a year/month/quarter to go through them. Keep the ones that still stick out.
  • Write on literal stones – you’re very own stones of remembrance
    • Stack them up and glue them together
    • Throw them all into a pot, bucket, or vase of some sort
    • Add them to your landscaping or garden area
  • Take pictures and actually get them printed! I know this seems obvious, but I think, especially for our generation, the printed part can be hard to follow through. But don’t just take any pictures – take pictures specific to your faith journey, even if they don’t make sense to other people. Then maybe put them all together in an album for the year or the month. I’ve recently started using Chatbooks for our family pics and subscribed annually to their monthly books – it makes it so much easier to be intentional when they remind me on my phone (If you want to give them a try use this referral code for $10 off: BRISHERMAN-FQ3G They even have an app which makes things twice as easy: download the app here)!
  • Stick post-its or Scripture or something on your fridge or your mirror or in your car. Really want to remember something? Make sure you see it every single day.
  • Start your own blog! You don’t even have to make it public – blogs can simply be personal storage for your own thoughts, ramblings, and memories.
  • Keep a journal – old school, but SUPER effective.
  • Record short videos on your phone to look back on, a vlog of sorts
  • Create a paper scrapbook – write down memories, keep ticket stubs – get as creative as you want here. Use different colors or patterns to represent different things. I haven’t done this yet….but now that I’m thinking about it, I just might. After all, I have a ton of crafting stuff just waiting to be put to use in my basement. 😉

No matter what you do – make it work for you. Maybe you try something for the next few months and it just doesn’t work. That’s okay – try something else. Maybe what worked for remembering last season doesn’t seem to work this season. I have been there. Writing didn’t always come easy over the last few years, so I had to find other ways to remember in that season. It’s okay to shift gears. It’s okay to start something new. The point? Find something that works. Find a way to remember. Even if it means building a pile of stones in your backyard…

Note to the Reader: In an effort to monetize the blog so that we can take this “thing” further and reach more people, we have begun to include referral links. Anything linked is highly recommended! Thanks for helping us to further the Kingdom.

Journey Back to Writing

January 30th, 2022

Writing. It, historically, was an outlet of mine. And then life happened. I had my second child….and still *kind of* kept writing. Post-partum depression hit HARD at 6 months. Less writing. We opened the ministry we had been working so hard for and dove in. Even less writing. COVID hit. Between my depression and trying to keep the ministry afloat, I didn’t want to write anymore. I didn’t want to do anything.

A lot has changed since then. I sought counseling from a licensed therapist (if you’re on the fence -do it! In case no one has told you – you can have Jesus and a therapist too!), Justin received a very unexpected job offer out of state, God continued to lead us in that direction, and, before we knew it, we left everything we knew behind and relocated to Michigan (where, thankfully, we do have some family).

While my depression is under control, and we have found ourselves in a true season of restoration, I’m still not finding the urge to write. But, during communion at church this morning, I was convicted that sometimes we need to do things we don’t necessarily feel like doing. I miss writing, but I still don’t feel like it. However, I do believe it is a passion, dare I say, gifting, that God has given me.

So, I’m writing again. Even if I don’t feel like it. For now, I’m not publishing, or sharing, or awaiting anyone’s feedback or accolades. I’m writing for me and for Him, for the benefit of my soul. Do I want to use this outlet to further and strengthen the Kingdom? Absolutely! But I feel the conviction to wait for His timing. I’ll write….and save the draft….and write some more. Maybe someday the world will see these inner thoughts of mine or maybe they won’t. And that’s okay.

Even just this much writing has given me life. I’m excited to see what comes of it. I’m aiming for 10 minutes a day – I’m sure sometimes it will be more, I hope so.

Until tomorrow….

October 31, 2022

Fast forward almost a full year and I still haven’t written like I wanted to. I have written some things – some posts saved in my drafts for a later time, some posts that I wrote only for my heart that will never be published…but still not much.

Both kids are now in school for at least 4 days a week for a few hours. And that leaves me with some extra time. While I still don’t often feel like it, my more realistic goal is to write at least twice a month. So far, that has been going well.

Today, the one book I’m reading through, 100 Days to Brave, mentioned our online life and how we use that to further the Kingdom. She spent a big chunk of those two simple pages discussing the blog she started. How she used it to write for herself, to share her story with a few close friends….but how, somehow, strangers started reading her blog. And then she was able to share Jesus with so many more people.

I don’t know if blogging is still the trend that it used to be. Do people still read these things? Or do I need to be making 3 minute videos for TikTok? Ha! Writing is definitely more my game…so I’ll stick with that…people still read..right?

Regardless, that reading today reminded me that I need to be intentional about writing, I need to do the things that I don’t necessarily feel like doing. I am confident that passion will return – because I know God has gifted me in this area.

So my challenge for you today is to do the thing you love. Don’t really feel like it? Do it anyways. Has God gifted you in areas that you aren’t really spending time developing? Make the time. Dig in. Feed the old passion, revive your gifting, fight for ways you can expand the Kingdom of God in your own unique way!

For me, it’s time to write…

What does that look like for you?

December 8, 2022

Just over a month later and I’ve been surpassing my goal of writing twice a month! In fact, Thursday mornings have become my writing days. And, honestly, they give me so much life.

Mondays usually hit hard at some point. In the morning, rushing to get everyone ready and out the door. Or in the evening when we’ve finally accomplished the day and felt the full force of “being back in the swing” of the week. Monday always ends up feeling like a Monday. Am I right?

But I find myself, now, pushing through. By Tuesday afternoon (if not before), I am looking forward to my Thursday writing time. It isn’t always productive. And it definitely isn’t always earth shattering. But it is always life giving.

I drop off Obi (my youngest) for his short day of preschool in the morning and then I drive down the street to the coffee shop. Then, with a latte in hand (most likely chestnut praline this time of year), I find a table, set up my laptop and dive in.

Most of those days I am reading and rereading my drafts to make sure they express exactly what I want to say. Anyone else an overthinker? But other days, I feel inspired, and write something new. Sometimes, I’m prepping social media posts.

But no matter what, my creativity has an outlet – the creativity that God has given me. He has gifted me with a purpose and He has gifted YOU with a purpose.

As noted above, what are you doing with that gifting? Find a way to make it a part of your routine. Even if it’s only for you. The more life-giving activity you find yourself in, the more likely that will overflow to the people around you! Which is exactly what God intends…

What the World Needs Now

“But, Mom, what if the drill is real?,” my 7-year-old daughter asked me as tears formed on the rim of her eyes.

My heart sunk in my chest as we began to discuss the lockdown drill she had just had at school. You see, due to a rare anti-inflammatory syndrome and COVID, she didn’t attend a school building until this year. We’ve never been in this situation before. And while I have cried tears for other parents and too many gone-too-soon children, I didn’t realize that this conversation would rock me to my core.

How was I supposed to tell her she was safe, that she didn’t have to worry….when the reality is, I cannot guarantee that it won’t actually happen? In 30 seconds, so many thoughts went through my head: She’s at a small Christian school in a pretty rural area. Does that mean I can tell her it won’t happen there? No, I guess not. Maybe that actually makes her more of a target? Oh gosh, I hope not. Oh Lord, give me the right words to say right now…

She told me all about how they were told to stay safe and I encouraged her, “It is SO good that your teachers have a plan in place. They are prepared if anything bad happens.” She continued to tell me that even though the drill made her really nervous, she said she felt safe as long as she was in the classroom and not at the bathroom. My inner thoughts started racing again, That is so super specific. Why is she concerned about being in the bathroom if something bad happens? I would have never even thought about that. Good Lord, this is insane. Okay, maybe they specifically discussed this…

“What are you supposed to do if you are in the bathroom?” With a shake in her voice, she continued, “we have to lock the stall, sit on the potty, and pull our feet up so no one can tell that we are in there,” as she demonstrated the proper position, a single tear falling down her cheek. Good gravy, my thoughts began again, I would have never even thought about a bathroom situation. This is all so insane!

And the questions kept coming – “what if the bad guy gets into our classroom? My teacher told me she would stand in the way,” goodness teachers don’t get paid enough, “but what if she is shot?” I then proceeded to teach my daughter how to play dead.

“But what if they see me breathing?” In the back of my head my mind is spinning. Do I explain to my innocent 7 year old that she should smear blood from someone else onto herself and try to breathe shallow? Or do I dismiss her fears for the time being because the odds are so low? But…what if? What if it does happen? How will she know what to do if I don’t teach her?

We shouldn’t be having these conversations with our children! I’m still reeling from that conversation and it has been almost two months. I’m baffled that I live in a world in which this is a reality that we have to deal with.

Sure, we could talk about gun laws and mental health back and forth for days – and some of the suggested things out there may help the situation. But the real issue at hand is isolation and lack of love. American culture has convinced us that doing everything on our own, pulling ourselves up by our boot straps is the best way to go. But we were created to live in community, we were created to love one another. That’s not just a smile and a nod – that’s truly investing in and knowing the people around you, truly knowing the people you interact with each and every day.

When we are each fully known and fully loved, evil and horrid atrocities are much less likely to take place. When we see others the way that God sees them, we are able to intercede before something majorly damaging happens. Take a minute today to love the unlovable, to listen to someone who needs to vent, to help where you can. A little time and a lot of love can change the world.

I long for the day that when I hear of a shooting it isn’t “just another” day but rather, it’s a rarity. I remember Columbine. I remember how it hit everyone so hard; how we all sat, stunned, in front of the nightly news. Now, over 23 years later, we are numb to the horrific evil that is the taking of innocent lives.

“Oh hey, did you see there was another shooting today?”

“Oh really, where at?”

“A school in rural Indiana or something like that.”

“Ah, what a shame…*brief pause*…hey, you want to order pizza tonight?”

Chipping Paint

My husband calls me a serial hobbiest. In other words, my hobby is collecting hobbies. I have a bad habit of starting crafty or creative projects and never actually finishing them. For instance, right now I have a few projects sitting around unfinished:

  • Monthly Crochet Blanket – I have every month’s package anxiously awaiting to be opened but I only got through the first three months or so….starting this time last year. However, I did work on it for about a half hour a few nights ago. Maybe there is hope??? Justin doesn’t think so.
  • Felt Busy Book – originally, I think I started this for my oldest neice’s 2nd or 3rd birthday….she is now about to turn 6. I have had two more nieces since then and I always say I’m doing it for one of them when I pick it back up randomly and work on it for a few days. Realistically, not one of my beautiful nieces will actually see the thing….but hopefully my friends keep having babies so I can eventually gift it! Ha!
  • Organizing pretty much any room in the house….they are all at different stages…
  • Hanging pictures/decor – even though we have been in the house for a year at this point, there are still things I haven’t hung yet. And they are patiently waiting in the corner of the dining room collecting dust… **shortly after writing this post, I DID get everything hung with the help of my lovely husband**
  • Refinishing an old foot board/bench/dresser thing that was left in our old basement – I started sanding it a week month ago – haven’t touched it since…
  • Door project for our basement – yes, we are turning multiple old doors into a wall (or 3) – Justin’s job is the actual wall building. I have to do the prep work on the doors we have managed to salvage at auctions and yard sales. I’ve actually been pretty diligent about this one and I only have three and a half doors left. But it looks like our warm weather is only going to last the next two days…so I better get to work….oh wait, I would rather be writing…

But that’s where the chipped paint comes in. God is funny about the things He uses to remind us of life’s lessons. Tonight, as I scraped paint off of an old door – slowly achieving the chippy paint look I want, He used that process to exemplify how He works in our lives.

Chipping paint, without a stripper, is interesting work. Especially when there are three or four layers on top of the beautiful, original wood. Some paint areas comes off without any problems. I could practically blow on it and watch it flake, but other areas need some more convincing. Sometimes I just have to use the better paint scraper. Other times, I need to push a little harder. And some areas just need you to come at it from a different angle. But through it all – I have to be cautious to not damage the wood face that lies beneath the paint – I want to maintain its beauty.

I think God looks at us this way. He can see the beauty beneath all the layers of paint that have hardened over the years. Some of that paint we put there ourselves, trying to cover our own messes. Some of the paint was left by others – shaping us to what they saw fit or even over splash from some of their own messy repainting.

No matter how many layers of paint, no matter who put them there, God is determined to reveal who we were truly made to be. Sometimes that’s easy – the layers of paint flake off with ease. But, more often than not, God has to use a little elbow grease to get underneath that paint. He has to push us past our comfort, move in ways we weren’t expecting. And that can be painful! When we’re extremely stubborn, sometimes He has to approach it at a different angle, or multiple angles, to get that hard, old paint to chip away.

Varied layers of chipped paint on old wooden door
Photo by Ronald Cuyan on Unsplash

Without the metaphor – what does this actually look like? The sin that almost all of us deal with is pride, right? In fact, if we’re being honest, pride is the root of most sin. And pride can be tough to uncover – it masquerades as other things – anger, control, shame, and so much more. God desperately wants to rid us of that pride. So He gently nudges the obvious signs. But when that doesn’t work, as Proverbs 16:18 says, pride goeth before the fall (yeah, I went a little KJV there…my bad…). He will often hand us over to our own problems and let us “learn the hard way.” Maybe that looks like losing a promotion or making the headlines in a not so positive way. But sometimes that angle still doesn’t get the root of your pride. It stubbornly sticks around, so God has to try a different angle, maybe one that will hurt a bit more (therefore, waking you up). This time, the fall that comes doesn’t just harm you – but it harms those around you – your spouse, your children a business partner….the list goes on. They begin to be affected, very obviously, by the pride you have been dealing with. He allows our own actions to lead to the consequences that will wake us up. Now, because of their pain, you allow that pride to slowly chip away.

He can finally chip off that last stubborn layer of paint and expose the beauty of who you were meant to be. The best part about His process, though, is that He won’t hurt the beauty that lies beneath. Not in the least. His desire is to restore that beauty, render the masterpiece undamaged, unique, and as it was always created to be. Yeah, we’re going to feel some pain in the process – but it’s the kind of pain that leaves you better in the end.

Side illustration – I recently cut my finger pretty badly in the process of chopping cabbage. Typically, that’s dealt with at home. But it would NOT stop bleeding. Unfortunately, I ended up at the urgent care. While I, thankfully, avoided stitches, they had to sterilize the wound and then glue it closed. As the PA preps the swab for sterilization (preventing infection) he warns me that it will sting. Okay, sure – I grew up in the era of peroxide and iodine fixing every scrape, scratch, and blister. No big deal. Boy, was I wrong. In fact, when he applied the swab, I almost swore (which is not something I usually do)! The pain was intense and immeasurably more than I had anticipated. But that pain was intended for my good.

Just as some of the pain that is allowed in your life, is ultimately intended for your good.

Yeah, the chipping paint metaphor isn’t perfect. But as I sat and chipped away at the paint on probably the tenth door in the past few weeks, it reminded me of how stubborn I can be, how unwilling I am to learn the lessons He has for me. Control issues? He has come at that in almost every angle imaginable and yet I still struggle, I still don’t want to let the residual paint chips go. Somehow, I think that last bit of paint makes me better. But He knows that it’s covering up who He made me to be. With that paint left, I’m only a fraction of what He intends.

And He has SO much more for me than I could ever imagine.

I’m also willing to bet that I have more layers of paint than I care to admit. But I’m ready to let Him do the hard work in my life to reveal what is waiting beneath.

Even when it hurts..

P.S. Don’t forget – there is beauty in the process!! After all – I’m about to put a dozen or so chippy paint doors on my basement wall. The process….it definitely has a vibe!

Take Off Your Graveclothes

I love when God moves and gives you confirmation to move forward. You see, I actually started writing this post the last day of October (even made a “mummy-esque” post on socials since it was Halloween. But months later, and after multiple revisions, it still sat in my drafts. Fastforward to the new year and our church is doing a sermon series called “Life to the Full,” based on the very scripture I use in this post. That sermon series is speaking right to the heart of what I’m trying to communicate here, so I figured now was the right time to share.

Our family mission is to cultivate life in those around us by being love. But that life, it isn’t just any old life, it is abundant life! Filled to the max, overflowing, give-you-that-warm-feeling-all-over, head-to-toe love. You see, we believe what Scripture says…

A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.

John 10:10

Jesus came so that may have life in abundance!

Do you ever feel like you’ve done what you could to feel fulfilled, but still feel like you’ve fallen short? Like something is missing? Maybe you go to church on Sunday, serve on occasion, and maybe even attend a small group. But, for some reason, it isn’t life giving. Do you go through the motions every day wishing there was more?

Friend, you are not alone. John Eldridge puts it this way,

“There are millions of people who love Jesus but experience Him only occasionally, more often stumbling along short of the life He promised, like Lazarus wrapped in His graveclothes.”

Restoration Year

It is time to take off your graveclothes! It’s time to step into the abundant life He has waiting for you. Yes, you might need to give up something(s), maybe make a job change, or even a move. But I promise you, whatever is on the other side – it’s more than you could possibly imagine.

I know that sometimes the life you have now seems like everything you’ve ever wanted. But, I’m telling you, if Jesus isn’t in it, if He hasn’t led you to that point, than you’re only living a fraction of what could be.

But what does that look like? What does it mean for Him to be IN something? For Him to truly be leading every step of your life?

Think of it this way – I’ve heard a few times recently that people don’t like to attend the one popular church in our area because “I see the same people there on Sunday morning that I did on Saturday night.” In other words, I don’t want the Sunday morning people to know how I behaved on Saturday night.

Maybe, just maybe, that’s the Holy Spirit trying to tell you something. Maybe, just maybe, whatever you’re doing on Saturday night isn’t exactly what the Lord has for you. I mean, if you remember the night before, I’m sure it was fun and full of laughter. And I know you don’t want to give those Saturday night vibes up.

But what He has is better, I promise you, SO much better. This world can only give us fleeting tastes of happiness and joy. He can offer true joy, joy that lasts, even when things are hard. When you take off those graveclothes, when you step out of what the world has you wrapped up in….a whole new world is waiting.

And, no, it isn’t the stodgy, uptight, not-allowed-to-have-fun Christianity that you may have experienced in the past or have seen portrayed on TV.

It is a truly full life. The kind of life that most people yearn for but can’t quite put a finger on what they are missing. Now, let me clarify here that a full life here on this side of eternity is by no means a perfect life. But it’s a life that remains at peace and with joy when the difficulties come.

I wish I could better put into words what it’s like to fully live with Jesus as your Lord, as your King, following in His every step, moving when He moves, resting when He rests…. But there isn’t anything to compare it to because it is truly unlike anything else. When you fully step into where God wants you to be in every way, things become so much clearer. It’s as if you were living without glasses, half blind but convinced that this is what life was. And then someone gave you the right prescription and a whole new world opened up. Or I imagine it’s like the first time a deaf child hears or when someone who is colorblind tries the new glasses that help them see the world the way it truly is. What was life, what seemed normal and somewhat complete, was merely a shadow of what reality is.

When you finally remove those graveclothes, it’s a whole new sense of freedom. Freedom is found when you are living the life you were made for! Because, you, yes YOU, were made for a purpose! You were made for more.

So how do you get to that point? How do you take your graveclothes off and step into the more you were made for? One step at a time. Too often we take a step, make a decision, and then ask God to bless it. We rush into the next thing because we’re looking for that something more. And we hope and pray God keeps up with it all. But the reality is, we should be following in His shadow, following His leading, walking in His foot steps. For every decision you make – from car shopping to job hunting – seek Him first. When a decision is placed before you, don’t make an immediate decision. Take time in prayer, seek counsel, spend time in His word and seek out what it is He wants for you. Do we have free will? Absolutely. Sometimes choices in our life are there because God loves us enough to give us choices. Other times God has a clear path for you that is not only beneficial for you, but for the others affected as well.

Those decisions can often be terrifying (i.e. opening a coffee shop or moving to a different state) but, again, I promise it will be worth it. Our real-life example looks like this: Justin received a job offer in a different state, not quite two years into the adventure of opening a non-profit coffee shop in our community. His instant reaction was ‘no’ and he was certain I would say no. And when he laid it all out in front of me, my gut reaction was most definitely to say no. But something in me stopped and my immediate reply was, “well, let’s see what God is doing before we make a rash decision.” Honestly, there were reasons on both sides to make a rash choice and just move forward. Thankfully, we had learned at that point in our faith walk that we always want to be in step with what God is doing, because things tend to get extra messy when we aren’t a part of what He intends. So we sought Him, we sought wise counsel, and it slowly became clear that moving was our next step.

For so many reasons, that was the hard decision and often times didn’t seem to make sense. But God knew better than we did. Now, I can’t say that I know exactly why we now live in Michigan. There hasn’t been this miraculous revelation that made the agonizing decision process so worth it. But I have seen His hand of blessing multiple times, He has confirmed over and over, in simple ways, that we made the right move. And, ultimately, I can feel that it was the right move because of the abundant life and amazing peace that has followed. Does abundant mean monetary blessings? Or physical blessings? No, it means my soul is right. And when my soul is right, when I am living in what He has for me, there is not a better feeling in this world. In fact, my physical health took a turn for the worst not long after we moved. It was difficult and I questioned things often. But, through it all, I had such a serene peace. Justin and I have both grown so much because of this move. We are both individually better because of it, and our relationship together is better.

So what is God asking of you in this season? Is He asking something big? A job change so you can better focus on your family? Or a move out of state? Or maybe it’s something more simple like giving up over-time to serve at the church or taking the leap to go to school and get that degree or asking someone to coffee.

Saying “yes” to God sometimes means saying “no” to other things. But those yeses make all the difference. One “yes” to Him can literally be the difference between life and death.

Take the next step. Take off your graveclothes. Step into LIFE!

What can you do to truly grow close to God today and allow Him to become the Lord of your life and not just a piece of it?

As noted above, our church is currently doing a sermon series very similar to what you’ve read here, so it’s a great place to dive a little deeper. You can find the series on most podcast services by searching @thejchurch

The Reality of Depression


It’s a fickle thing.  Always there but not always present.  Sometimes visible, other times very well hidden.  But lurking, waiting to appear when it so pleases.

When it does choose to appear, it can be all at once – a burst of anger or intense emotion.  Or, in my experience, much more subtle…

It creeps in bit by bit, like streams in a forest that trickle through the undergrowth.  Slowly, they join into creeks that gurgle a bit.  Then these creeks join into rivers that sometimes flow smoothly but, occasionally, become raging rapids that threaten to drown anyone who doesn’t have sure footing.

What happened slowly and quietly, is now a life-interrupting problem.  And navigating those rapids is difficult.  One wrong move, and you are tumbling through a tumultuous current, trying so hard to get your feet underneath you, to catch a breath of much needed air – all while scuffing sharp rocks and inhaling gulps of blistering cold water that burns your lungs.

When you finally find your footing, things are still shaky.  Barely able to breathe, lungs still burning and unable to fill up with much needed oxygen, you try to focus on what’s around you, but it’s all too much.  Everything is blurry and it’s difficult to move.

But you keep going.  Because you have to.  The world is still turning.  And though, every once in awhile someone notices you’re a little off, most people are oblivious to the fact that, moments ago, you almost drown.  And that the current is threatening to pull you back in at any moment.

Goodness, you’re not even aware of how truly close it is until it sucks you under.  Before you know it, that raging river has turned into nasty brackish water; full of salt, burning the wounds created by the rocks and river bottom.  

For a moment, you are floating, calm and surreal, all seems well in the calm bay you have found yourself in.  But it fools you.  For the current is pulling you around the bend, straight into an angry ocean.

Here, the waves are stronger than the rapids.  Here, you can’t tell which way is up.  Sunlight disappears and there is only water pulling you lower and lower.

You become numb.  You feel nothing.  There are no tears or uncontrollable sobbing.  But no joy either.  Here, in the depths of the dark ocean, you feel absolutely nothing.  

What used to make you cry doesn’t even make you twitch. What used to bring joy and pleasure is dull and lifeless. Every day goes on like the one before. No hope of change. No light.

My friends, please know that this is NOT the end. There IS a tomorrow. It may not be the next day or the next day but…

…tomorrow is coming.

For those of us who know and believe in the One True King, depression will never be the end-all-be-all. It isn’t what God desires for us and it certainly isn’t what He intended for us. Like many other things this side of eternity, depression is part of the brokenness of this world. It was never meant to be this way. So for that, we pray and hope in “Your Kingdom come.” Because His Kingdom WILL come. We can rest in the hope that this broken piece of our world will not last forever. When His Kingdom is made full and complete, depression and anxiety will be no more. Wholeness and love are all we will know – life forever in the glory and beauty of His presence. No more gasping for breath, no more nearly drowning.

Can you imagine?

For today, hold onto that hope, hold onto that promise – even when it feels like that hope is all you have left – hold on.

Tomorrow is coming.

Family on Mission

Family on mission. I feel like that counts as a “buzz phrase” these days. Everything is all about mission statements and core values and vision. From business, to ministry (including churches), to side hustles, families, and more, this idea of having a mission, a focus, is consistently pushed. And for good reason.

Craig Groeschel puts it this way, “Everyone is going somewhere. But not everyone is going somewhere on purpose.” Me, my family – we will end up somewhere, but are we going to get there on purpose? Are we going to get there together? I hope so. And if I’m hoping, then I should be doing everything in my power to make sure that we are working together for a common goal with common values.

Justin and I have often talked about having a family mission statement. In fact, way back at the beginning of our ministry voyage, we were mentored by an organization called As Family We Go started by Rend Collective (I talk more about that here). And that kind of became our motto: As family we go…whatever we do, whatever God calls us to, we are doing it together, as a family. So, we threw around some ideas, talked about some values…but that’s it. All we did was talk. We never finalized, we never implemented.

Fast forward four or five years and we move to Michigan. Here, after a series of God moments and the Holy Spirit’s leading, we found a new church. The values and mission they have established were encouraging and lit a tiny spark for us to look at that in our own lives again. So we talked….again… but didn’t do much more than that.

Meanwhile, Justin is pouring everything he has learned in the past decade or so into his new job – with a huge emphasis on company culture: mission, values, etc.

And then our church hosts a “discover your calling” event. I decided to go. It was eye opening. We walked through our past experiences, our current passions and giftings, and essentially walked away with some sort of purpose (or mission) statement. I was excited. It wasn’t exactly new information for me (I think for most people it isn’t), but it was rejuvenating. It helped me reframe the season of life that I’m in, helped me see that I AM living out my calling, even if I’m “just” a stay-at-home mom now (I don’t say the word just here lightly…but, sometimes, let’s face it, it’s how I feel…).

That excitement stirred me to sit down and go through the process with Justin. Once he had personally gone through it, we came together and walked through what that would look like for our family, together. While we never had anything officially written on paper, we realized that we were, mostly intentionally, living out a mission together as a family already.

Maybe that’s the case with you. Maybe you don’t necessarily need a mission statement or a list of values. Maybe your family already operates with a set of values and you’re working together to accomplish the goals of God’s Kingdom. But maybe not. Maybe you’re stuck in the American dream, fighting hard to earn that next promotion so you can afford that new car, or that boat, or the down payment for the lake house you’ve been dreaming of. Maybe you’re struggling with keeping up with the Jones’ next door – after all, they just re-sided their house and added a gorgeous backyard space where even you want to spend most of your day. Don’t you deserve that at your own house?

Or maybe you’re just surviving the day to day – get to work, make sure the kids are fed and that they don’t unalive themselves, pay the bills, make dinner, go to church, rinse, and repeat. So often we just go through the motions. But the reality is – you’re still going to end up somewhere. Don’t you want to get there on purpose?

Take some time today and truly evaluate what your purpose is – what is God calling you specifically to do? Because we are all called. We have all been give the great commission – to go and make disciples. But how has God equipped you, through experience, passions, giftings, etc., to do that as only you were uniquely created to do? Then, take it a step further – how does your spouse, your family fit into that? How can you become a family on mission together?

To get your gears turning, I’ve included our families mission statement and values below:

Cultivate LIFE in others by being LOVE.

  • Courage – Do It Afraid
  • Integrity – Do the Right Thing
  • Compassion – Get in the Mess

A quick Google search will give you hundreds of other examples and Focus on the Family has put together a great how-to guide here.