Jan 12 2014



“Look at your glass as half full, not half empty. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, When one door closes, another will open…”

You’ve heard these lame excuses for encouragement. We all have said them, hoped to believe them. Hoped they might help someone look on the brighter side of things. We were trying to help because we didn’t know what else to say or what hope there really was to offer a really dismal and bleak situation.

But deep down, we all know that sometimes the dumb glass is just half empty. We hate lemonade, have no time to make it anyway, and the door was just slammed in our face.  Sometimes life is just painful and hard and we just want everyone and their trite sayings to go away and let us sulk the day away.

In times like these, I am encouraged by those who encourage me to move beyond what is trite, and on to what is holy. I’m encouraged by those who encourage me to THRIVE despite my circumstances.   In the matter of a few months time, our whole lives have been shaken and stirred. Just to name a few of the more obvious tough circumstances:

Rob resigned his job with Granger Community Church, after serving with them for 21 years.

Two days later, I fell down one step, yes.  ONE step.  I tore my calf muscle, sprained my knee and ankle, and tore my ankle tendon 90%.  I had surgery, a cast, have been almost completely immobile for 4 months.

A few weeks after I fell, Rob’s dad passed away. His death devastated our family.  Our girls have never known real grief.  Walking them through this new grief was one of the most difficult things we’ve ever done as parents.

In the middle of all these life-changes, I have discovered a few things to be true:

  • We are family. And that is enough.  Who we are when no one is looking has turned out to be my favorite “us” there is.  I’m a housebound wife.  A  shut-in, a person who can’t walk in the park to rejuvenate my soul.  My husband, a temporarily unemployed pastor.   We are just us. Just Rob and Michelle and Madeline and Whitney and Isabelle.  They are not pastorskids and I am not a pastorswife.
  •  Who we are when no one else is around is what counts. We are discovering our inner uniqueness, apart from the blaring lights and noise, the applause of men and women–Good, kind, true men and women. There’s nothing wrong with being a pastor or a pastor’s wife or a pastors kid, but these things do not bring us value or worth or importance.  Who we are is who we are being made to be, day by day.
  • I can make my life better just by sitting here.    I started practicing Zentangle doodles and have found myself and my soul a new creative outlet.  I spent several of the hours laying in my bed recovering from my surgery praying for every tween and teen girl that had been to our house to visit our girls that signed my cast. Their names blared up at me in bold neon letters, praying for them by name was a gift.
  • I’ve realized more than ever that every minute I have with my family counts.  Losing a family member so dear has caused us all to hold each other  closer–Every day.  Every minute is special. In the chaos of our day to day, I have found myself hugging my husband more, speaking words of light and light into each of my girls, making our time together matter by taking the time to notice them, really, really notice.

Many times during these past few months, I have asked Jesus to end this  what feels like to be never-ending series of trials.  I’ve asked Him To make everything better, to take away the pain, both the physical aspect and the heartache.

However, I am starting to see the deeper lessons of deeper living, of what it means to THRIVE through trials and hard times.…I think it’s been worth it for all of us–Actually, I know it has been.

We are as a family learning to linger over love longer, to talk deeper, to live fuller…

They way God has orchestrated our circumstances is certainly not how I would have, but He has taught me to THRIVE despite anything that comes my way:

That in anything,

  • He has the power to give me strength.
  • That HE is all about me living life abundantly. He said that’s what He came for.
  • Jesus is teaching me how to live– In anything, for anything, through anything.

Wherever you are, whatever your mess is, your sadness, your grief, or just your ordinary day to day living. Thrive from where you are. Ask God.  Ask yourself.  “How can I live better? How can my life be richer? How can I feel stronger?”

I can promise you He will show you. He promised us in the Bible, John 10:10 to be exact: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. “

Trust Him.  Ask Him.  Wait and see and THRIVE.

“This post was inspired by Casting Crowns new album “Thrive” available

January 28th.

Learn more about what it means to Thrive at




Aug 27 2012

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 .  Our lives are permanently rocked by this amazing celebration.


Oct 18 2010

Letting Go-A Lesson My Parents Taught Me

As Rob was teaching this past weekend about How To Wreck Your Life this weekend, (watch the service here…it was amazing)  I had this flashback to a conversation I had with my parents when I was in college.  I wanted to go to Uganda on a mission trip.  My Mom said yes pretty much right away.  She’d been to Kenya when she was my age, and it was an experience that marked her forever.  My brother had been to Zambia the year before, and I knew I wanted to do something similar before I got married (I was engaged to Rob at the time).

I remember talking to my dad about it.  I felt very strongly that God was calling me to go.  His first response:  “No way.  You’ll get yellow fever.  You’ll get malaria.”   My parents love God.  They are strong Christians, and my Dad secretly knew he’d eventually say yes, but had to pose his argument first.

Fast forward a few months to the only phone call I made from Uganda.  It went something like this:

Me: Dad!  It’s me!

Dad: (choked up) Hey!  How’s it going?

Me: Um….I got malaria.

Dad: ….

Me: But I’m doing better!

Dad: …..grumble….

That phone call was my Dad’s nightmare come true.  I was sick and a million miles from home.  He couldn’t do anything about it. Now that I am a parent, I know how hard it was for my mom and dad to let me go on crazy adventures around the world. I am so thankful for their ability to trust God with me, shaping my future, and helping me to learn to be a good parent by their example. It will be hard, very hard for me to let my kids go on the same kinds of adventures I went on (and still go on…my poor dad).

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It’s my Mom and Dad’s 41st wedding anniversary today!  They are amazing people, and I thank God for them all the time.  Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!  Thank you for trusting God with me on all my crazy adventures around the world.

Oct 4 2010

10 Parenting Mistakes I’ve Made

Last week was a tough week.  We had a bazillion little things go wrong, but in the end, it was amazing to see how God worked it all for good.  Belle had to go to Medpoint late one night, and before she headed out the door, Whitney handed her her most treasured Silly Band-the Angel.  The next day I went to the Hallmark store and bought Whit a full pack of Harry Potter Silly Bandz to show her how you can never out-give God. After I gave them to her, Whit went in to check on Belle who was sleeping on my bed, surrounded in her own pile of Silly Bandz.  Whitney gave her a kiss and put a quarter next to her.  Basically, it was an all-out love fest.  I wrote a quick Facebook/Twitter status update saying, Whit gave Belle her angel silly band last night when she was so sick. I bought Whit a whole pack to show her how u can never out give God.

A lot of you wonderful people praised my awesomeness as a Mom for this.  I replied, Yes, but I rarely tweet about what I do wrong as a parent.  Really, who would want to blog, Twitter or Facebook what they’ve done wrong?  Who would want to admit that they’ve made parenting mistakes?

So, I decided to share some mistakes with you.  Here are ten things I’ve done that I’m not proud of, but hope you and I can both learn from.

  1. Rushing Bedtime and shushing the quietest thoughts of their day.
  2. Being scatter-brained and disorganized-causing myself to forget their important stuff-causing them sadness at missing out.
  3. Letting someone else tell me what’s best for my child and going against my gut.
  4. Allowing my displeasure at their bad behavior spiral out of control until I lash out at them with angry, not correcting words.
  5. Letting the girls watch too much junk TV and eat too much junk food because I am too tired to offer a creative solution.
  6. Failing to do a complete background check on people I trusted them with for a week.
  7. Saying No to something simply because it’s easier than saying Yes.
  8. Sharing information about them with others without asking the girls first.
  9. Hiding my chocolate
  10. Being seen out in public with Belle’s Barbie glasses.

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Really, I hope this list is helpful.  I am a pastor’s wife, a mom, and I have done things wrong.  It is my hope that we can build each other up as parents instead of tearing each other down.  We really can learn so much from one another.

  Your turn!  Any mistakes you’d like to share?  How about sharing your biggest victory as a parent?

Sep 8 2010

Every Day Joy

Isabelle Joy 

Rob started off the Glee series at GCC this weekend.  He spoke about finding joy.  He challenged everyone to look for joy throughout their day, and consider these sightings as signposts from God.  How often do we let these moments slip by without acknowledging them.  What if God is trying to speak joy into our days, and we are so overwhelmed with other stuff that we miss it?

I took this picture of our Isabelle Joy a few years ago in the retention ditch next to our house.  I had not planned on it.  She just happened to want to wear her pretty dress that day, and she just happened to want to go see the pretty flowers.  I ran in the house to grab my camera, and was lucky enough to get this shot of her. 

Every day joy.  Grab your camera, and wait for it.  Live with a spirit of expectation, because joy is coming your way.

Aug 19 2010

Loving Leading

My friend Lori Wilhite runs a pretty awesome site with a few other women in  ministry called “Leading and Loving It”.  She interviewed me on her site a week ago, and I thought I’d share the interview here in case you missed it:

Leading and Loving

1. What is your role in ministry/leadership?

My role has changed quite a bit over the years.  We have been at Granger Community Church in Northern Indiana for 18 years.  In the beginning, my role was clear-cut and easy to define.  Over the years, my responsibilities have changed, and now my role has evolved into sort of a harder to define one.  When Rob and I signed on in 1992, we were both full-time youth workers here.  When our babies came along, I stepped back and my role changed from taking care of other people’s babies to taking care of my own.  I always continued doing ministry, just took on what I could in addition to my ever increasing role as a Mommy.

No matter how my role has evolved, my biggest heart and passion has always been for the 3rd world.  We are currently working in Southern India, rising up men and women church planters, teaching them to bring the Gospel to the furthest unreached corners of Southern India. I don’t get to go on every trip with Rob, but the last trip we took to India with our entire family this summer put me in the middle of my “sweet spot”.  I had the opportunity to gather the stories of Church Planters for a book we will have out later this fall. Traveling to India, writing opportunities like this, writing and editing for Rob, and keeping up my blog weekly are my main ministry roles right now.

2. What is your favorite thing about your role?

Keeping a position of Writer/Editor is something I can do at home, which has definitely paid off in some very positive ways.  With Rob’s schedule being unpredictable and usually crazy, I am happy to offer some stability to my kid’s schedule at home.  We have gotten to take trips to India as a family a few times.  Those trips are hard work, but incredibly rewarding.  I am so grateful when our church provides these opportunities for us to serve in a third world country together.

3. What is the most challenging thing?

The invisibility factor-I really (and I mean really) miss being in the middle of things around the church.  Being here for my kids is a huge priority, and it helps Rob have peace of mind too…but…I feel left out a lot.  Our church is pretty big, so not many people outside of our  circle of staff and friends even know who I am, so that’s a blessing and a curse all at once.  Blessing because I can fly under the radar at events and see how things work without people polishing up for the pastor…a curse because I feel so connected to this place and its people, it’s hard not to feel like I can just jump into the middle of things and feel included.

4. What do you wish someone had told you before you started in our area of ministry?

I wish someone could have let me know how much my role would change, then change, then change again.  Most importantly, I wish someone would have told me to never get my identity wrapped up in what I do instead of who I am. I wish I could have known early on that the way God has gifted me, and the places He would take me with that gift were very unique, and I should never compare my gifts to someone else’s gifts or abilities.  I would have been saved a lot of frustration if I had known that and believed it to my core 18 years ago.

5. What do you wish others knew about your area?

I think it must look to others like I am not really doing much to serve at GCC.  All of the other pastor’s wives have a much more visible role, like singing on stage or teaching kids on the weekends.  People don’t see me in action too much.  Just because I am not up  front, or at every meeting whenever the church doors are open doesn’t mean I’m not 100% committed to the mission and vision of GCC.  I’ve never felt judged by anyone about this.  Mark Beeson and his wife Sheila have said to me from day 1 years ago to just be who God made me to be, and serve out of whatever capacity He has gifted me for.  I am so very thankful for this. (Kids ministry would send me to an early grave).

6. How has God used your leadership to grow and change you?

Outside of being a wife and Mommy to 3 girls, I would say that this role has shaped and changed me more than anything.  When we came to GCC, I was only 19.  Our whole lives were ministry.  It’s everything we’ve ever known.  To me, there is nothing I’d rather be doing than laying down my life for Jesus, and men and women of our community.  I think more than anything, leadership and ministry has taught me that life is not about me, but about bringing God’s Kingdom to Earth as it is in Heaven.  I’d give up my life for that all over again for His cause.

7. If you could pass one little piece of wisdom to someone else in the same leadership role, what would it be?

Well if there is another Pastor’s Wife/ Writer/ Editor/ Traveler to India / Mom / lover of chocolate covered peanuts somewhere in the world, I would say to her, that she is awesome and special, and uniquely and creatively gifted by God on purpose and for a purpose.  I would also tell her to eat lots of chocolate and drink as much coffee as possible, mixed with an occasional energy drink. :)

Ministry is not for the faint of heart, no matter what your role is!  When you are married to a talented husband who is driven to accomplish all Rob has, it usually means he is driven in lots of ways on the home front as well.  Rob has more energy than I did as a teenager.  It’s hard keeping up with him, but always fun and rewarding.

I would also say to buckle your seatbelt, because the adventures God will take you on will exceed your wildest expectations.

8. How do you make sure that integrity is being maintained in your leadership?

Rob and I have a great relationship.  He can tell when I am getting off balance, and helps me re-focus from time to time.  I also have a great friend and mentor who has been a pastor’s wife for over 40 years.  Her husband is a well known author and preacher.  They’ve been down every road imaginable in ministry.  I love her, and cherish our friendship, as I can confide in her with a lot of issues I am dealing with when it comes to my personal leadership and integrity issues.  On a daily basis, I pray, read the Bible, and try to keep a sense of humor. I also have a great group of friends who I can talk to and laugh with.

9. How do you develop other leaders? How do you grow and develop in your leadership?

My leadership multiplication strategy is pretty simple.  I believe that one of the ways people learn to lead best is from following other people’s stories.  The tag line on my personal blog is “Living on Purpose, Writing on Purpose.”  I live my life in a way that others can see patterns and an example of what it means to be a Godly woman.  My Twitter and Facebook strategies are the same.  Live my life wide open for others to see and hopefully they will find Jesus there, chiseling away at my core, making himself more and more known to others through me every day.  This includes my online presence, and of course the friendships I maintain in my neighborhood, the kids’ schools, and in our community.

The small groups that I lead from time to time are lead in the same way.  I lead them life on life.  I learn from my friends as they learn from me.  Jesus is at work in all of us.  I feel like my job in developing leaders around me is to help others see where he is at work in their lives if they don’t see it already.

11. How do you meet the needs specific to the people in your town, city, circle of influence?

I’m a friend to anyone who needs one.  Rob thinks I am crazy, but really, there is no one I can’t call a friend, (except if they start trash-talking my husband).

Practically speaking, one of the many ways I live this out is being the Kool-Aid Mom. Almost all of the Mom’s in our area work full or part time, so I show them friendship by welcoming their kids into our home when they don’t have babysitters, or if they just need a break.  Even when our kids are teenagers, I hope their friends will always feel welcome at our house.