With You Always


I had surgery on my ankle this week to fix the tendon that was 90% torn and 10% hanging on for dear life. Needless to say, it’s been a painful few months in many ways. Rob’s dad passed away two weeks ago…a devastating loss to our family. We will miss Papa so much. Seeing his chair empty at Thanksgiving was so difficult for all of us.

The physical pain I’ve been dealing with as well as the heartache pain of losing one so dear to all of us has been very hard. We’ve also been dealing with the pain of leaving GCC, a church family we have been a part of for twenty-one years.

I’m completely confined to bed for five days, which leaves a lot of time for thinking.

What do all these losses have in common? What are they trying to teach me? I’m not really sure about how they are all connected, but each loss is significant in it’s own respect, varying levels of pain come with each loss.  I know I’ll get my foot back eventually.  I know Rob will get a new job, that we will find a new church family to be a part of, that our time at GCC for the past few decades has given us the gift of lifelong friends that we will always cherish no matter where we may end up.

We will see Papa again, in Heaven someday. He will be healthy and strong and his eyes will shine with light and life. I am looking forward to seeing him again, we all are.  We have hope.

On this side of eternity, there is no guarantee of a pain free life. We all deal with pain and loss and death because all things are being redeemed, and will not be set right until Jesus makes all things new in His time.  I’m learning to trust that His ways and His timing are perfect. He never promised that on this side of eternity all things would be perfect.  He did promise He would be with us through it all.

In His last words to His diciples before He went back up to Heaven, Jesus promised, ” I am with you always, even to the end of the age.(Matthew 28:20)

He promised He’d be here.  God with us. Through death, loss and pain. Through the good times and the bad. He’s given us His presence, to comfort us, to guide us, to never leave us. Sometimes it feels like God is hard to find, in the middle of dealing with so many losses, it’s hard to see God through pain. But He’s there. I know He is. His presence is with me, sometimes I just have to be still to remember.

  My friend Nancy sent me this quote this morning, and it fit so well with what I was thinking about, I’ll share it here as a final thought for you to dwell on today:

“There is a really deep well inside me. And in it dwells God. Sometimes I am there too. But more often stones and grit block the well,and God is buried beneath. Then God must be dug up again. I imagine that there are people who pray with their eyes turned heavenward. They seek God outside themselves. And there are those who bow their heads and bury it in their hands. I think that these seek God inside.”

~Etty Hillesum

20 Year Celebration

Twenty years. Twenty years is a long time. As our twentieth anniversary at GCC has been approaching, I have been amazed at the comments people have made.  Ones like, “No one does anything for 20 years anymore.” Or “Did you start ministry when you were 10?” Generally people have been shocked, not realizing Rob and I have been at GCC for that long.

I was 19 when we came to Granger, Rob was 21.  Mark and Sheila Beeson have given us a place and space to grow and change over the decades, finding ourselves, finding Jesus, and leading others in the Jesus way all the while.

Last Friday night, we celebrated our 20 year anniversary with some friends from GCC in literally “The Party Of The Century.”  We were humbled, amazed, honored…there truly are not enough words in the human language to express the way our hearts exploded with the outpouring of love from the staff, friends, and family who came along to celebrate.

Several friends sent video messages, Pastor Paul Wirth from Relevant Church in Tampa, Florida, Dustin Holiday from Christian Fellowship Church near Washington DC, and Pastor Rick Warren from Saddleback Church in California. Rajendran from India recorded a message about how grateful he is for Rob’s faithfulness when it comes to serving the people of India…it was all so very meaningful.

There was an amazing media piece with stories from our lives told by others, photos someone had stealthily stolen from my house (with a little help of 3 young accomplices) draped on a clothesline at the GCC property. It was stunningly artistic, and took our breath away.

Our girls had made a secret media with the help of Elle White and Kristin Baker. It brought both Rob and I to tears. It was so beautiful and funny…we are so grateful.

Rev. Dan Gute, our youth pastor made a surprise appearance, speaking words of life and hope into us, and his lovely wife Dianne came too.  We could not believe it.  Both sets of our parents came, along with Rob’s sister Lisa, our brother in law Jim, and our niece and nephew.  What a blast to have all of us in the same room together!

The Senior Management Team each took a minute to say a kind word to Rob and I, and we were humbled by the gracious things they said.  The Culps made a special Rob and Michelle tribute, and we laughed so, so hard.  I was touched when the Culps were transformed back into Dan and Lisa, and they sang the Song “Captivate Us” by Watermark, and played the You Tube video I made of my Instagram pics.  It was a fabulous surprise.

The shock of our lives came when Trace Rorie and the GCC band began playing an old school Petra song.  Those who know Rob well know what a huge influence Petra was on his early faith in Jesus. Whenever he tells the story of how he deditcated his life to Jesus, he talks about the Petra songs that sunk deep down and made him think, change, and grow.

As Trace began singing the song, all of the musicians started looking sort of nervous. I felt bad for them because I thought these old Petra songs must be “new” to them and they might not know them so well.  I felt even worse when they really messed up and had to stop the song. Then it clicked. I put my hand over my mouth as Trace said something about “Four time Grammy Award Winning Artist…” and JOHN SCHLITT FROM PETRA WALKED ON THE STAGE!!!!!”

I don’t know if either of us will ever be able to recover from the shock. John Schlitt is a super-mega-famous Christian Rock star, and has been for decades.  BUT, to us, he’s way more than that.  We went to his concerts as high-schoolers and middle-schoolers ourselves, acted crazy and had fun…but always left profoundly impacted by Petra’s love for Jesus and their compassi0n for kids like us.  John Schlitt was the guy who sang to us while we worshipped Jesus alone in our rooms, or  listening to headphones while walking to high school.  Petra’s songs literally ignited our faith and gave us courage to stand up for what we believed in. The voice of Petra brought each of us to our knees in countless moments of standing before Jesus.

John Schlitt’s presence with us there on Friday night was so symbolic of our lives coming full circle.  It was crazy.



I have to tell you, one of the funniest moments of my life is captured in this photo below, where Pastor Dan (our youth pastor), and Rob’s mom are talking with John Schlitt.  His mom is telling John how she “put up with that loud music” for so many years, and Dan was telling John how he used to drop us off at Petra concerts and drive around the block about a thousand times so he wouldn’t have to stay and listen to the loud music.  John just laughed and laughed and thanked them over and over again for doing a great job in raising us.

I respected the man from afar for all these decades, but when I saw him speaking to these two, I was deeply moved. I was standing next to John when he spoke to my own dad. He spoke to my dad like they were old friends.  He thanked my dad over and over for allowing us to listen to his music growing up.  He said, “I know Chicago was a dark place to grow up. Thank you for allowing your children to listen to our music, hopefully we brought a little light.”  His words were profound and heartfelt. He spoke to each of our girls with respect and admiration, thanking them for how they celebrated us as their parents through their words on the video, and the letters they had each written us.

John’s humility and compassion were so obvious, and we are so, so blessed by the staff of GCC for allowing this to happen, and for everything they did to make us feel loved and honored.

Our worlds were rocked…literally…on Friday night.  Thank you to each person who came and celebrated with us, and those who celebrated with us by watching the service live stream at gccwired.com .  Our lives are permanently rocked by this amazing celebration.


Cuteness Overflow


So, where’ve I been? Why haven’t I been blogging a few times a week lately?  Well, I’ve been just a little bit busy.  Miss Isabelle had her tonsils and aednoids taken out last week and has been recovering at home.  She’s doing a bit better every day, but it has been a long healing process for her.

On top of caring for Belle and our regular family routines, I have had the awesome opportunity to babysit for sweet little Ava. She’s an adorable little friend that I get to babysit 3 days a week.  Belle adores her, and so does Ellie, our dog.  Ava enjoys all the attention and she has been so much fun for all of us.

Needless to say, I’ve been busy. It’s been great fun having a little baby around. I think Belle will most likely get to go back to school the beginning of next week and I’ll lose my little helper. She makes baby Ava smile, giggle and do the funniest belly laughs.

As for Ellie, she loves to snuggle up next to Ava and bring her all kinds of toys. She wants to be right next to her every second, and growls at me if Ava cries.

So yep, it’s been busy, but great. Our house is overflowing with cuteness.  Every day is a blessing and I’m loving life more than ever.

House of Joy

             Last night I started making dinner around 4pm. There were 4 children in my house, only one of which was my own.  By 4:30 Maddie and Whitney were home, including the 4 others.  Add 2 dogs to the mix, flying couch coushins for fort building, a few arguments over who should be the “teacher” and who was too afraid to play hide-n-seek in the dark, it was pretty crazy around here.  Crazy and fun and loud, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I want our house to be a house of joy. I want kids to come here and play and have fun, learn to love each other while they are learning that they are loved.

I almost automatically set an extra plate at dinner time, knowing someone will invite a friend over to eat.  I love this. I love that our family welcomes their friends into our home without fear or embarasment.

When we eat dinner, we always go around the table and talk through our “Highs and Lows” for the day. Everyone shares one high–a great thing, and one low–a not so great thing from their day.  Our little guests have come to love this part of our dinner.  “I want to do that up and down thing!” One of Belle’s buddies said last night.” He took his time and shared lots of details of his day.  When we were saying a prayer for dinner, Rob said, “…and God, thank you for our guest Ethan”.  Ethan smiled like every night he’s over.  Once I prayed and accidentally left his name out.  He reminded me as soon as I was done praying, saying, “You forgot to thank God for me!”  I prayed again, thanking God for Ethan.  It made me giggle, but it also touched me deeply, knowing he feels important and loved at our house.

I know lots of parents who don’t let children in their homes. I don’t know their own reasons, but for us, our children and their friends are why we have this house.  Stuff gets spilled and broken occasionally, but it’s just stuff.  We tell our kids all the time that people are more important than things because God made them.

We want our house to be a house of joy.  When I was serving up desert to our three girls last night, I noticed a line had formed, and there were suddenly seven children total.  I just laughed and kept dishing it out. I’m glad our home is becoming a house of joy more and more every day.








Party on Purpose

Our house has always had an open door policy. It’s how I grew up in my Mom and Dad’s house, and how I want our house to be. We don’t have a pool or anything fancy, but we want our house to be the house kids feel comfortable and loved. If you want to use the term, we want our household to  be “Missional.” We want to show kids the love of Jesus here at home.

Miss Maddie asked us about a week ago if she could have a party to celebrate the last day of school. We agreed, stating that she could invite a “few” friends. Well, those “few” friends multiplied into about 30 or so.  Most parents dropping their kids off called us crazy (but left their kids with us anyway). Rob and I quickly reverted back to our youth ministry days and really did have a lot of fun with the kids.


Rob bought fireworks, we ate food, the kids ran around and had a silly, fun time.  It was a party accidentally on purpose.


What You Can See In A Storm

Last night our family was outside running around, riding bikes, and generally enjoying the nice weather.  All of a sudden the dark clouds blew in and the sky turned black. That doesn’t stop our family of course, but only encourages the craziness. It’s much more fun riding bikes in a storm than in just the plain dull sunshine.

While they were running around in the street, I was taking some pictures of really cool cloud formations rolling in. Maddie pointed to one above our neighbor’s house and said, “Mom! Look…it’s a heart!” It took me a second, but then I saw it.

The “heart cloud” was hovering right above our neighbor’s house. Our kids have been close friends with their kids ever since we moved here in 2004. On Friday our neighbor’s grandpa died. I just couldn’t help but wonder if this heart was God’s heart reaching out to them, showering his love on them in the middle of this storm.

Sometimes when we are in the middle of a storm, it takes someone else to point out the obvious. The love that is there. The hand that is reaching out.  The obvious love that the Father is pouring down on us.  I’m glad Maddie saw it with her kid’s eyes and pointed it out to me as I was so focused on the ominous, dark, rumbling clouds.

When we are in the middle of the storm, the darkness can be overwhelming. While it is overwhelming, often the Father is right there in the middle of it with us, pouring out his love in a special way.

I’m praying that if you are in the middle of a “storm”, that you can shift your focus from the storm clouds to the love that is hovering there, right over you.

If you’re not in the middle of the storm yourself, how cool would it be if you were the one to help someone else shift their gaze from the threatening ominous darkness to the love of the Father?

Praying for you friends, that whatever storm you are in, you would know His deep, deep love for you.