Posts tagged story
A Kingdom Kind Of Life


Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.

Luke 12:32


The kind of life I want is a kingdom kind of life.

I want to live free of fussing and worry and angst and tense shoulders. To so trust the Father that every day is new and fresh. I want to wake up every morning with a smile of delight on my face because I know He has good things planned for my day.

I want to live free of fear, not because there’s nothing to be afraid of, but because I know His pleasure in me. I want to know with a knowing that permeates my being that His thoughts towards me are generous and grace-filled, that He sees the truest part of me.

I want to please Him and therefore be able to take both the threat and the reality of displeasing other people in stride. To know that it is only His favor that matters, and that if I do that, He can handle everyone else.

 I want to live, not as a perfectionist-performer people-pleaser, but as a worshipper-listener-delight-filled God-pleaser.

I want to have a plan to order my projects, but to be free to step away from the plan when the Father taps me on the shoulder and says, “I need you to do something different today- to be My hands and feet and presence to one who needs Me.”

I want to live free of all the should’s that bind me tight, and relish, instead, a life of get-too’s.

I want to be sent out by Jesus like the seventy He told about in Luke 10, and return as they did: “with joy” and in awe of what God can and will and does do when we set out on the assignments given us by God.

 I want to dream big dreams that are all about Jesus and not at all about me.

I want to so thoroughly grasp kingdom truth that I do no measure my success by accolades and bank accounts, but by the uncanny reality that the God of the universe is with me every moment of every day. And that He actually, really, truly… adores me.


I want to see and know and feel that every day is a gift, that my hours belong to Him, that there is a great crowd of people who are counting the days until I slip from this earth and into the presence of the One I live for. That they’re excited for me to get there because they love me and like me and want me to experience what they already know and I still barely grasp.

 I want time.

Time to work and time to rest and time to interrupt it all to enter into my people’s joys and sorrows. Time to write poetry, to craft stories, to spill words from my life. I want time to sing and bake cookies and plant a garden and go on long walks.

 And I want my story to count, because it’s God’s story.

I long for people to know…

what He does even when we don’t deserve it,

how He cares even when we can’t quite bring ourselves to believe it,

how He speaks even when we can’t or don’t or won’t hear.

It is this kingdom kind of life my deepest soul and truest self longs for, and it is this kingdom kind of life my Father is pleased to let me live.

 May you, dear ones, enter in to this kingdom— this place of indescribable beauty, unshakeable peace, and unending delight.

 May this place be your home.

From my heart,


P.S. My book, He Speaks In The Silence is now available for pre-order.  This is where I tell my whole story, more than I'd ever thought I would.


DO NOT FEAR... and other words about listening to God

Dear ones, I woke up this morning wanting to go back to sleep.

Ever have those days?

It’s a rare feeling for me, an inveterate morning person. As I lay there wondering what in the world was wrong with me, I sensed that whispered truth from the One who knows me better than I know myself.

You’re afraid.

I knew His words to be true, though it hadn’t dawned on me all through the restless night. And hearing Him, I felt that instant relief I’ve come to recognize as my soul’s visceral response to His words to me.

The fear had to do with my plans for the morning. After months of writing and years of living my story, I’ve finally got it all on paper. For the past several weeks an editor has been waving her magic wand over my words, asking me questions, filling in gaps, challenging my assertions, making sure I am writing true and getting the story right.

Waiting for me on my desk is the final edit.

And I am scared. Nervous. Worried.

Feeling once again those all too familiar feelings of not-enoughness.

The inadequacy that has haunted every step of writing my story kept me bound to my bed this morning instead of bouncing out to my writing cabin with joy. 

I pulled myself out from under the covers, made a pot of tea, and sat by the fire Phil had made, eyeing my cabin out the window with dread.

Since my Bible was waiting by the backdoor instead of in its usual place by my chair in my cabin under the trees, I settled in to the safety of this place where I never write.

I sat in Phil’s chair. Sipped tea, and waited.


No words, more dread.

I’ll just spend this day wrapping. I need to wrap, after all. I’ll get to my book later.

Relief… sort of.

Opening my Bible on my way to where I left off the day before, my eyes caught these title words: Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralyzed Man.

My heart froze.

That’s me! I am that paralyzed man. Paralyzed by fear, haunted by feelings of inadequacy, knowing deep down that I’m not good enough, smart enough, responsible enough. Convinced that I have failed again to meet my own standards of perfection. I am hog-tied by that knowing that I am not as good as I wish I was— at anything.

I read the story. No, that’s not right...

I inhaled the story.

It’s that story I have been drawn to over and over again. I’ve taught on it, written about it, researched words and deciphered my way through dusty tombs written by men with strings of letters after their names.

But this time I did what I’ve been doing a lot lately; I followed the rabbit trails of references the translators leave behind.

I wanted to know more of what Jesus meant when he said to the man: “Take heart, son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mt. 9v2 NIV)

The trail led me first to these words: “…in this world you will have trouble but take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16v33 NIV)

Take heart. I have overcome your trouble.

Ah… peace chasing fear away.

His peace. Given as a gift through His words…

His words to me, the fear prone daughter of Royalty. The one who forgets that she’s not alone- never alone.

This child of His, whose soul struggles to get it right. To believe. To fully entrust every bit of me to Him.

But it gets better, this listening.

The reference trail led me, strangely enough, to Romans:

“… in all these things you are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8v37 NIV)

Oh yes! I forgot! Again


That’s why I’m afraid, because I’m stuck back in that thinking, that wrong thinking, that my story is about me.

Sure, it’s my story… but the truth is, my story is all about Him— what He did, how He speaks, how He is teaching me to hear.

And, my dear anxious ones…

Your story isn’t about you either.

Your story is all about Jesus engulfing you in His great love and hiding you there.

Your story, and mine too, is about how in all things

“God works for the good of those who love Him,

who have been called according to His purpose.

For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…

and those He predestined He also called;

those He called,

He also justified;

those He justified,

He also glorified.”

(Romans 8v28,29 NIV)

He also glorified. 

Once again that heart-halting sense of His speaking to me, through me, for me. 

What? Lord, isn’t it me who is supposed to be glorifying You?

Yes. That’s right.

What am I missing? Why is my heart beating wildly at this thought? Could it be true that You want to glorify me? That’s crazy!

And I’m laughing now because I know it’s true! I feel His smile, that chuckle of the One who so persistently leads us into truth.

And here it is, all unwrapped:

When I tuck myself into Him. Purposely listening, yielding, obeying, wanting His truth to be the truest truth— He actually glorifies me.


In Him I am better than I am.

In Him I am freed to be who He designed me to be.

In Him I am adequate.

Paul’s words in I Corinthians break through to add octane to my wonder:

“Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.”

(I Corinthians 3v4,5 NASB)

Which means that, Lord…

My adequacy is from You.

Smile. Joy. Wonder. A gift so lavish I cannot get over it.

And then I scurried to write it all down for you, my dear ones. To remind you again, all of you who are haunted by fears, hunted by an enemy whose fiery arrows (“flaming missiles” in the NASB) sting and wound and threaten to relegate you to the injured list, that…

Hid in Him you are enough!

That, in fact, He wants to use you to tell His story to a whole world that doesn’t yet know that it is Him— Jesus— they are craving as they spend their moments and their money accumulating.

This is what I mean when I talk about listening to God.

When I say that He speaks in the silence. He does! He really does!

From one who is learning to hear and wanting you to know,


P.S. Read it for yourself in Matthew 9v1-8, then again in Mark 2v3-12 and then get the details in Luke 5v18-26.



(image by Hillary Kupish) 

… thoughts on submission from a strong willed woman 


submit yourselves to your own husbands

 as you do to the Lord.

Ephesians 5:22

For many months I have danced around the S-word. Rather than engage in controversy, I have chosen to be careful, to sneak in the occasional benign reference to an idea so seemingly archaic as to be seen as obsolete by many. A concept agonizingly riddled with conflict.

I’ve been careful for two reasons:

One, because historically women have been battered by bullying men and sanctimonious women with this word… and

Two, because women, in their struggle to wrestle culture’s thinking back into sanity, have been biting back, over the last couple of decades, with such militant ferocity.

And I, being a teacher and encourager to real women I know and love, have absolutely no desire to wade into either the sanctimonious or the ferocious.

Plus, I am a bit of a coward when it comes to conflict.

And so, today, I hesitantly nudge open the door to begin a discussion. Not a lecture. Not an argument. Not even a clearly defined teaching about what God meant or what He means and what every-single-wife-in-every-single-situation-really-ought-to-do.

Instead, I’ll simply tell you a story.

When Phil and I bought the house we lived in for the past 11 years, we made a hasty decision: an unfortunate combination of me not wanting to live in a rental while we belabored where to live, and him being influenced by outside pressures.

Practically from the day we moved in I’d been talking about selling it. Too big, too look-alike suburban, too much to maintain, too little actual space to accommodate our family gatherings, too expensive.

Yet every time we looked into selling it, putting pencil to paper to make sure it made financial sense, I reluctantly agreed with Phil. We needed to hang on to the house I didn’t like. Though he would have sold the behemoth house to make me happy, we both knew it was not the best decision and so we stayed.

I submitted. Not because Phil forced me to, but because he painstakingly and lovingly led me to see the wisdom of staying put.

Then one day the pencil on paper lined out a different scenario. A window of time in which the combination of our rising equity, low interest rates, and a multitude of must-sell houses on the market compelled us to start looking at what was out there.

I envisioned purchasing an old cottage, neglected but adorable, waiting for me to restore it to its former glory. We agreed that increasing our indebtedness wouldn’t be financially advisable, but that didn’t worry me. Our price range was generous enough to make me confident about my vision of home.

Then a friend told us about a house for sale. He told us to drive by it, see what we thought. He quoted us a price way under our allotted budget. The location was wonderful. I could hardly wait to see it.

Driving slowly down the street, I was charmed. Quaint cottages, huge trees, an area settled over a 40 year span, and the name of the street— Firwood Road—so enchanting!

The house, however, was ugly.

I mean really ugly. As in creepy ugly. As in this house was never anything but ugly. It was built ugly in an era of ugly with nary a hint of anything but ugly.

I was relieved to hear Phil agree with me. No Ugly House for us.

But then, over the next few weeks he started to change his mind. Putting that dratted pencil back to paper, he began to dream a different dream— the dream of financial freedom, of life really truly within our means.

The Ugly House kept coming up in our conversations about what that might look like. And I kept saying,

“No way, there is nothing redeemable about that house. It is just ugly. It has always been ugly. We don’t want ugly— I don’t want ugly.”

We bought the Ugly House.

We didn’t buy it because I heroically surrendered. I didn’t suddenly shrug my shoulders and give in. We bought it because, over hours and hours of talking together, my vision of our life began to change. I caught a whiff of what that kind of financial freedom might mean for our future, which, in turn, ignited my own dreams.

What might it look like to live with less? To be able to give more?  To be free to be generous even though we’re not rich. What might it look like to be able to close up our little house at a moment’s notice so we could run into adventure?

I got excited.

Then the friend who started this whole thing, along with a brilliant young designer we know, put more pencil to paper; moving walls, finding deals, figuring out how to transform the Ugly House into a cute cottage on our budget.

I got more excited.

We talked endlessly— using up whole forests of paper as we adapted the idea to suit us both.

He heard my soul-desire for beauty.

I saw his soul-craving for freedom.

We combined our individual desires out of love and respect for each other.

I realized in one of those rare moments of lightening strike revelation just how heavy a burden my husband had shouldered in order to enable me to do what I wanted to do: stay at home to focus on raising our children. And then, with an entirely empty nest, he let me quit my part-time job in order to pursue my dream of writing.

That enlightenment made me think long and hard. It gave weight to his vision for financial freedom. My respect for his sacrifice changed my approach to this next season of life.

And now we are getting ready to move into the Ugly House that isn’t ugly any more.

I’ve renamed it Firwood Cottage, an apt moniker that encompasses what it has become. Oak wood floors, fine wide baseboards, a refrigerator that harkens back to another era. I love this house! In fact, I am convinced it is going to become my all-time favorite home.

What seemed a sacrifice in the beginning has become a grand adventure.

Did I submit to my husband? Yes.

Was it easy to get to that place? No

Did I just roll over and give in? Of course not. 

Did we both have to let go of some strongly held opinions? Uh-huh. 

Did we reach a fairy-tale conclusion to our differences? NO! 

We had to chop off the much wanted great room drawn into our plans in order to afford the 5 foot soaking tub and the shiny sink I just couldn’t live without which made absolutely no sense to Phil. We’ll be saving for a long time to add that family gathering space back into our plans.

But we’re on the same page, making similar sacrifices, determined to embrace a simpler, smaller, living-within-our-means life.


And that is what submission looks like in the marriage of two strong-willed, yet strongly committed people— compromise, communication, conflict, coming to new conclusions.

Submission is so much more than merely giving in.

Submitting to my husband is messy, fraught with mind-changing, mistake-making decisions.

Submission to my husband includes embracing, envisioning, rethinking, probing, questioning… my husband’s ideas.

And yes, I believe that submission is mutual…  yet in the end it is my honor to choose to submit to the man I married, to follow in the footsteps of the “great women of old” who choose to submit to their own husbands because of their ultimate trust in God. (I Peter 3)

My take on submission may be different than yours. My circumstances most certainly are. And yet, in the end, we are simply sisters— women connected by our passionate love for Jesus, each of us trying to work that out in our own lives.

And maybe that is why, just a few minutes before God nudged Paul to write those words urging wives to submit to their husbands, He made sure he scribbled this:

“Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do.” (Ephesians 5:17)

From a heart still learning what this all looks like,


P.S. How about you? How are you learning to act thoughtfully about submission to your own husband? And for those of you not yet married, have you thought about this? Does the idea of submission scare you? Have you seen this in someone's marriage that makes sense to you? I'd love to hear.



Give thanks to the LORD

and proclaim His greatness. 

Let the whole world know what He has done. 

I Chronicles 16:8

I met, just the other day, with a young woman to hear her story. We lingered over a late breakfast, sipping tea and nibbling sweet potato home-fries.

How do you share a lifetime in an hour?

How could I listen to without weeping?

And yet she did and I didn’t. I held back those tears until this morning. Now, in the dark, with my Bible open and my teapot steaming, my heart won’t stop the flow of tears.

Why does so much pain happen?

And I don’t know the answer, not really. I just know that it does. People choose and their choices hurt innocent little red-headed girls.

But something happened as we sat across from each other in that little breakfast place not far from here. Something powerful, something… wise.

As this woman shared her story-full-of-awfulness, she just refused to give in to pity. Instead, she wove hope throughout each chapter, noticing God’s goodness and His people’s beauty towards her just when she needed it.

Hers was not that annoyingly fake kind of “God is good” parroting of what no one believes— but a wide-eyed discovery that, indeed, God showed Himself good in the midst of terrible bad.

And I think that’s why I didn’t break down and choke on the tears pushing behind my eyes… because she wouldn’t let me.

Her hope was contagious—her deep down belief that God stood with her every hurtful moment of her the-way-it-shouldn’t-be story.

That is how I want to live my days…

Overflowing with hope,

caught up in God’s goodness,

choosing to sparkle with the joy of His care for me in spite of—

well, in spite of the bumping and bruising and unavoidable badness that happens some days.

From my heart,


Do you have a story you can tell us? Maybe let this corner of the world know about His goodness to you?


Ruth 1v6-22

The Journey (Part Two)

Verse of the Week:



More words from the Father:

Colossians 3:8-14

Psalm 139

Luke 10:41,42


From my Heart:

What About Me? 

On pondering Ruth’s boldness, her verve, her enthusiastic embracing of hardship, I find myself asking, “What about me?”

Have I arrived at this place, in this role, because God led me here? Or did I take a few too many wrong turns along the way and then settle in just to survive? Am I here…doing what I’m doing…being who I am…because I’ve so entrusted my life to the Father that I have followed every hint, every word He has spoken and landed finally in my sweet spot? Am I in that place intended for me to serve Him?

Or not?

Did I, instead, take the reins in my own hands to drive me and everyone else around me down the road I chose…the path I preferred? What if, deep down inside, I don’t want to be this person I’ve become along the way? What if I don’t want to do the things that define me?

What if…

I don’t want to play the role of policewoman/Nazi-commander in my home anymore? Will the world collapse around me if I turn nice? Will clothes mold in wadded up piles? Will the health department have to step in and close down the kitchen if I’m not there to catch every crumb? Will my husband bankrupt us? Will he go off and buy a Maserati the minute I let up?

What would happen if I let go of control?

Should I warn them first?

“By the way, I’ve decided to play the nice guy from now on. No more scolding, sulking, silently disapproving. I’ve decided to be like Ruth and Sarah. Oh…and Mary. Definitely like her.”

“From now on I’ll ask nicely, or not at all. Because I love you, with all your faults and flaws, you don’t have to fit yourself to me any more because I find you fascinating and fun, intriguing, and delightful.”

What would happen after I scraped them off the floor?

And what if…

I don’t want to be bound by my birthdays anymore? Are the freshman 15 and baby-fat and middle-age spread inevitable? Or could I push my slothful self out the door, slip into my running shoes and change all that? And if my body is indeed the temple of the Spirit of God, aren’t I somewhat obligated to try?

What if…

I quit complaining? Would I be okay if nobody knew I had a headache? I once tried not to complain for a whole week. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even make it through one whole day! My conversation is laced with common complaints.

“My, its hot…







boring today.”

What if I stopped all that?

What if I never said a bad thing about anybody ever again? Would I have anything to talk about?

The real question is, “Can I change?” Can I overcome my past patterns to become who I want to be…who I believe God made me to be? Can I overthrow my history, much like Ruth did, to reinvent myself? Can I really change by choosing?

One glance through Scripture convinces me I can. The change in Peter between who he was at the end of the gospel of Luke and who he emerged to be in the beginning of the story of Acts is nothing short of astounding! He went from whining wimp to warrior preacher in how many days?

What about Paul? Talk about an about-face!

And John? Jesus nicknamed him and his brother, James, the “sons of thunder,” clearly referring to their raging tempers. A look at his trilogy of letters in first, second, and third John reveals an entirely different temperament. There he’s known as the “Apostle of Love.”

If they can change, can’t I?

I can almost hear Jesus break in to interrupt my raging thoughts… “Martha, Martha…hush now…settle down…you are worried and bothered about so many things.” “Mary,” He gently reminds me, “has chosen the good part.

Choosing the good part…again,

From my heart,



Wisdom from the Scriptures


Naomi’s life started out well. Pleasant, as the meaning of her name suggests. She grew up in the town of Bethlehem, situated in the bread basket of Israel. Her childhood would have evolved around agriculture: plowing, planting, gathering, preparing, and the celebrations which accompanied ample harvests.

She married well. Elimelech was of the elite tribe of Ephrathites, thought to be the founding fathers of Judah. Their family originated with Caleb, Joshua’s consort in their spying days.1

But then her life took a downturn. Due to an apparent famine, Naomi’s husband chose to defy the dictates of the Mosaic Covenant2 and migrate to the land of Moab. There, she lost her entire family to premature death; first Elimelech, and soon thereafter, her two adult sons, Mahlon and Chilion. She found herself abandoned and alone in a foreign land, estranged from the God of her childhood, far away from all that was familiar and safe.

Called a “female Job” by many commentators,3 Naomi becomes a spokesperson for every woman who suffers. In the narrative you get a clear look at Naomi’s hurting heart. She is exposed, bearing her pain for all to see. Naomi feels that God is against her (Ruth 1:13, 21), that He has afflicted her (1:21), and brought misfortune upon her (1:21). She feels empty (1:21) and bitter (1:20).

And yet, little does she know, God is lovingly dictating even the most excruciating of circumstances. By the middle of the story, Naomi is dishing out wise advice to her daughter-in-law. She exhibits a keen understanding of her culture and even an underlying sense of God’s purpose for His people. And she gets her happily-ever-after ending. Holding her grandson, Obed, in her arms, Naomi’s life once again takes on meaning and purpose. Her friends bless her and help her to recognize that God is restoring her life and giving her hope for her future.

In this raw and wrenching depiction of pain, the God of Scripture gives us permission to go ahead and ask those questions that defy easy answers, to rail against the circumstances that upend everything we hoped for.

Naomi’s story is a story of a God who listens…and cares.



Sometimes I think life is like a chapter book. 

All the chapters connect to each other yet no two chapters are the same.

Some are filled with details and history. Some with drama and intrigue.  All are necessary to tell the story.

I tend to want to read ahead and see what’s next which can cause me to miss the right now.

I’m sure I am not alone. 

These past few months have brought about a lot of learning and growing and stretching and asking God “what story are you trying to write?”.

God has blessed me beyond belief with a wonderful husband, two growing-up-way-too-fast children and this incredible blog to be a part of.

Working with my mom and helping her spread the words that God has given her is something I treasure. Not to mention the fact that so many of you read The Kitchen each week... it blows my mind and delights by soul. Thank you. 

Yet somehow I have been finding myself in a place I don’t want to stay…. too busy to do the things that are the most important in my current chapter…

Loving, caring for, serving and making space for my husband and my family.


Because sometimes the most important things look like taking the time to have a dance party with Duke in the hallway.

(I can’t dance)

And sometimes they look like lying on the floor and teaching Scarlet to say “mama”

(the only word she will say is “Dada”. All day long.)

Other times they look like having a cup of coffee and talking to Brook instead of working on my “to-do” list.

A perfectionist at heart, I can sometimes get so focused on tasks and making everything just right that I miss the simple joys along the way.

In this next chapter of my life I know God is asking me to strip away all the things that aren’t the most important and simplify a bit.

So I will be doing a little less blogging and a few more park days, dance parties, impromptu dessert making and whatever else may come about in the day-to-day.


This has been a tough one for me as I LOVE to cook and LOVE to share with all of you.

For now, I’m going to keep the conversation going and pop in every month or so with a new recipe or two.

I am excited about this next chapter and I would love to hear what God is teaching you as well!

I hope to be back right before Christmas with a cinnamon roll recipe.

Until we talk again,