Confessions of a Rogue

My husband left before dawn today on a work related trip out to the west coast of the beautiful US of A and my children and I are enjoying a very lazy day at home. My six year old is sitting Indian style trying to spin three coins simultaneously on the floor. 

“Mom, did you know George Washington is on every 25 cents?”

“Wow, Boogie! You are so smart!” 

“And Gabraham Lincoln is on every one cent!”

My eyes widened ever so slightly.

“Do you mean Abraham Lincoln?”

“No. Gabraham Lincoln.”

I turned my face to hide my smile. He must have caught my emotion. 

“Yeah, maybe. I thinks it’s Abraham. Yeah, Abraham Lincoln.”

Bless that beautiful boy of mine. I tell you, I barely make it a day without melting at his freckles, missing tooth, and darling smile. 

We recently returned to the US from living abroad in Malaysia and something as simple as watching my boys discover US currency is irresistible. I love watching life experienced and knowledge gained through the eyes of children.

We had been living in Southeast Asia since 2013 learning a new language, a new culture, and a new way of life for one purpose: to share truth with anyone, anytime, anywhere. We returned to the US in mid October of 2016 on furlough. We received a phone call during our first week back that sent us through a month long storm of emotion and prayer. Greg was asked to join the pastoral staff of a church in Tennessee.  A total honor to be considered for such a position, and at the very same time, a total blindside that knocked us flat on our backs.

I think my husband would agree with me that this very decision was the toughest one we’ve ever had to make. Leaving a people we loved and were passionate about tore us to the heart. And for the many weeks following our decision we felt excitement, but more so, a sadness of giving up something that became the heart of who we were. 

 I wrestled with a feeling of failure. I let my friends down. I let my coworkers down. I didn’t last but one term and that appears nonsensical to many who serve at the other ends of the world. I am a superstar to those living here in America and a rogue disappointment to those still living abroad. I feed on your thoughts and opinions, and I wish I did not! My pride basks in your ooh’s & ah’s over my having braved this overseas calling. My insecurity intensifies when you unknowingly secrete dejection over the length of time served. Please forgive me!

Now I am caught in this new world of having to discover what my lifestyle will look like having come fresh from the distant lands. Must it mirror what it was? Or should it take on a different form unique to its western culture? No longer am I encountering people everyday who have never once heard.

But I am still encountering people everyday who don’t know. So maybe the method changes. But the urgency does not. For at any time and anywhere, anyone can know saving grace. That, I hope, remains my life goal, my one aim. To be singleminded in knowing my Lord and making him known. Opening my mouth despite fear and leaning heavily into the Spirit. 

To my friends abroad: I love you for what you do! You are my heroes and I am so honored to know you and call you friends.

To my friends local: I love you for who you are and the passion that stirs in your hearts. May you aim to make Him known with everything in you. 

The Valley

I wish we fully understood God. I wish we could know the reasons to his choosings, and comprehend the mysteries of his sovereignty. I wish his mornings would awaken us from our dark nights. I wish his light would drive away the shadows of our doubts. I wish we could stay with him on the mountain top, hidden and secure in his glory. I wish his truth would be even more dearer to us when we’ve descended down the summit to the valley.

The truth about God is that he’s beautiful. The truth is that he’s powerful. The truth about his grace is that it’s overwhelming. The truth is that just because darkness has hidden our view of him doesn’t make him less lovely. His glory upon the mountain top remains majestic in the lowlands, and his authority rumbles through the valley below.

The last time you were on the mountain with God, you saw that all the power in heaven and on earth belonged to Jesus—will you be skeptical now, simply because you are in the valley of humiliation? Oswald Chambers

We are not meant to live in the mountain tops of God’s glory our entire lives. We are meant to live dependent upon God in the valley where our faithfulness can be revealed. Our faith untried is not faith at all. Let faith root and grow in the gloomy soil of the valley, let darkness cover the seedling. Soon enough the light above the mountain tops will shine down and from the darkened depths will spring up hope, joy and a peace that surpasses understanding.

The World, the Christian, and the Great Commission

Ebola outbreak. Christian genocide in Iraq. Gaza and Israel. Mark Driscoll and his church Mars Hill removed from the Acts29 network.

My mind is swimming in an overwhelming sea of outrageous news and current events.
What is this world coming to?
What the heck is Obama doing?
Why isn’t the US doing anything?

These seem to be some of the general questions being asked by the many people disturbed about the most recent breaking news. They are rather intense, even scary events that merit our concern. But I also know just how easy it is for us to quickly dismiss these topics, after agreeing on how horrid they are, simply because we are not personally acquainted with them. Interesting, isn’t it, that unless it affects us directly we can easily cast it aside and worry more about things that cause us personal distress like the flu that hijacks our health, stress at work, or the frustration when things in our life are not going as planned.

I just recently read an article by Dr. Albert Mohler addressing Ann Coulter’s most recent opinion piece, “Ebola Doc’s Condition Downgraded to ‘Idiotic.” To put it simply, Ann Coulter is convinced that this missionary doctor, Kent Brantly has foolishly wasted time, effort, and money on mere humanitarian services in a third world country. She believes Dr. Brantly would have had greater, worldwide impact if he would have remained inside the US providing medical healthcare to people in positions of power. She poses this question, “Can’t anyone serve Christ in America anymore?”

From an outside glance that question seems harmless. And I will agree with Ann that in order to see any substantial change, a sure fire way is to start from the top and work your way down. Converting the king will inevitably convert the kingdom.

But Ann Coulter believes that the reason for why some American Christians go on mission trips to disease ridden cesspools is because they’re tired of fighting the culture war in the the United States. Instead, they slink off to Third World countries, away from American culture to do good works. She then goes on to say, “Christians need to buck up, serve their own country, and remind themselves every day of Christ’s words: ‘If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.’ There may be no reason for panic about the Ebola doctor, but there is reason for annoyance at Christian narcissism.”

And this is where I lose any possible concurrence I might have had with Ann and firmly stand with Dr. Albert Mohler as he writes in response, “American evangelical Christians did not come up with the Great Commission because we were frustrated with losses in (against) the culture war. American Christians are not ‘slinking off’ to foreign countries in order to escape the United States; they are going in obedience to the command of Christ.”

My dear friends, your “calling” is of upmost importance. All Christians in all the world have one general calling and purpose: to make disciples. Now I ask you, have you been called? To where have you been called: here or there, to stay or to go? Have you been obedient to that calling?

You may have a special calling to be a doctor or to be a teacher, but that is merely the means to help you fulfill God’s very specific call of making disciples. Are you burdened by the Great Commission, are you driven by God’s extremely personal command on your life?

I believe that any Christian that is not impassioned by their calling to the Great Commission is found quite guilty of narcissism.

If Ebola, the genocide in Iraq, Gaza, Mark Drischoll, and former mega pastor Bob Coy’s moral failure do not aggressively motivate christians all the more to advance the gospel and make disciples, then that, my friends, is narcissism at its finest.

Our Restless Hearts

A stunning view, an ocean breeze, and a Hindu altar can mean only one thing: we are in Bali. And as if it wasn’t good enough to just be in Bali, my in-laws (or “Chief” and “Duckie” as my children call them) have come from the other side of the world just to be with us here.

Greg, the boys, and I arrived here two weeks ago. Our first week was filled with company meetings, but the second week was purely relaxation and restoration with our beloved Chief and Duckie. How welcomed this week has been after 9 months of pressing hard in learning language.

We’ve rented a lovely coastal house and just happen to be sitting in plush bean bag chairs under the outside gazebo surrounded by beauty on every side. Chief just got up to make his famous coffee for the 5th time today. And his coffee is quite famous in this family, famous for its strong bitterness. That stuff is so strong it’ll grow hair on your chest. And I have absolutely no interest in that. Word to the wise: drink with caution or TONS of cream.

Duckie just brought out what’s left of my 28th birthday cake for our late afternoon snack. Outside of wishing my own family here, there is nothing more that I could ask for, that is of course, outside of Pull & Peel twizzlers or a Heath Bar. My heart is full.

What is most amazing, even scary, is that in a moment like this when my heart is full my spirit is still found wanting. There is something deep within me that remains in a state of unrest. In the secret recesses of my being I have an insatiable yearning that I can’t seem to satisfy. I have incredible blessing upon blessing in the palms of my hands yet I live with this sense of unfulfilled longing.

“You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.” St. Augustine of Hippo

Truly my soul is unsatisfied because it craves to be with that which it was made for and that which it was meant for: for God Almighty. And until the moment I am united with Him face to face my soul will continue to groan with longing.

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8:19,23

The challenge is trying not to fill my hungry spirit with lesser things like hopes or dreams, ideas or ideals. Because achieving our language goal, finally settling into a home, nesting, having enough money, planning the next vacation, or trying for a baby girl seems like pretty satisfying options for my forever groaning heart. And in no way am I saying those things are wrong, just empty if I am hoping to find complete satisfaction in them.

Each beautiful gift we receive from God is precious in its season. But that’s just it, they last only a season. Everything this side of heaven is temporal; life is but a breath, time is but a moment. Today is bliss, but tomorrow may usher in sorrow, and when sorrow rolls in, waves of doubt and faithlessness tend to accompany our woes.

I believe; help my unbelief! Mark 9:24

But glory to God that when we are faithless, He still remains faithful. Let that grace and truth wash over us. Let us satisfy our souls with God himself in Christ Jesus through intimate fellowship with His Spirit who dwells within us. For God alone quenches us like an overflowing spring of water welled up within our dry and weary being.

The Darkest Night

It’s after 10pm as I write this, Greg’s been out for the past 6 hours and our power has been out for the last 3 hours. I’m not sure why the power went out except that maybe the foreign music and a foreign voice currently blaring over loud speakers for some kind of party that’s unfortunately reverberating through my dark and quiet home blew out everyone’s power but their own. What’s more unfortunate is that I don’t think our power is coming back on until sometime tomorrow morn. Just another reminder that I don’t live in America.

Three hours ago Max (almost 4), Charlie (2 and a half) and I were flying our paper airplanes through the house when everything went dark. And I mean I can’t see my hand 2 inches from my face kind of dark. I happened to be standing next to our front door so I quickly opened it expecting the moonlight to spill in but nothing appeared. Hmm, must be cloudy or smoggy out tonight.

As insignificant as this may seem, not two hours earlier I was helping Max look for a toy when I happened to find our only flashlight, which went missing months ago, hidden underneath the boys’ dresser. I grabbed it and put it in my husband’s little wooden box atop our dresser and went back about my business of locating this little toy Max was begging me to find. So sweet to me the thought of God’s love towards me that He orchestrated this incident of finding the flashlight to prepare me for tonight. I’m still in wonder over the fact that God was in this little detail.

At this point Charlie was getting hysterical, my little Max stayed calm the entire time. Man, what a little stud. My brain managed to stay calm enough to think clearly probably because I’m a mom now (but that definitely wasn’t the case pre children). I grabbed both boys’ hands and I walked them to my bedroom and then to the dresser. Relief flooded over Charlie, and, truth be told, came over me as well. I don’t like complete darkness. I suppose it would have eventually dawned on me at some point to retrieve the boys iPad from their bedroom to use as a source of light.

Interestingly enough, I was studying with my language teacher earlier today and we were discussing Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want….”. He asked me if I’ve ever experienced the “valley” of darkness or the “valley of the shadow of death”. I paused to think for a moment. How could I explain to him all the valleys of darkness I had been through since we have two major barriers separating us from fully understanding each other: language and culture. Would he be able to make sense of my broken Indonesian along with my very different upbringing and way of life?

I wasn’t sure where to start so I just I began my best to try and explain how I have had a tendency with every one of my pregnancies to sink into a depression for the duration of my first trimester. My body would become ill, my motivation would wane, and my soul would become dark. I’d have no interest in reading the bible so wouldn’t and then I’d be eaten up by guilt. Hope seemed to slip away from me and I would literally be such a mess for Greg.

That seemed so benign as I was explaining that to my teacher so from there I jumped into the story of my childhood. I told him how my 3 sisters and I were raised by our single mother. Our mom only worked part time so that she could be home with us after school. That meant we didn’t have much money, we didn’t have much food, sometimes our power would go out if the bills weren’t payed, but all those times God was always with us providing for all our needs so that we were never in want-even by bringing a new father into our lives some years later.

And even this still seems so small compared to the loss others have faced greater than my own. I just met a woman whose 2 year old daughter has leukemia. I have a friend who was molested by her own grandfather, My brother-in-law had to live with his grandparents growing up because neither of his own parents were fit to nor wanted to care for him. My sister-in-law lost her dear father to cancer.

So many different happenings carry our souls into the darkest of nights. All hope seems to slip away as the sun sinks below the clouded horizon. The moonlight and twinkling stars are hidden away by the black clouds. Our sorrows descend like rain. Thunder begins to rumble and we are overcome with doubt and despair.

Darkness presses in on every side of us, but God has not left us alone. Lightning breaks forth across the sky and He makes his presence known. He is the LIGHT and He shines in the darkness and the darkness CANNOT overcome Him.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. (Psalm 42:11)

In our darkest hours God enables us to see His glory like the crack of a lightning bolt, if only for a moment, that we may behold Him who pierces the darkness, and that our hope may be restored.

Be anchored in the truth that God is not far off but right here with you. Praise Him whether or not you can find a reason until you see Him flash His glory across your dark sky then let that revive your hope and trust in Him for today.

It’s 4:30am and our power has just turned back on!


Preciousness awoke at the early morning sounds
and asked me for a bowl of cereal that drove away my tired frown.

Stubbornness opposed me with the quickest little feet
my attempt to clean the soiled tushy to anywhere they could retreat.

Beauty smiled at me with a grin from ear to ear
as we played and raced together such games that brought great cheer.

Sadness looked up at me with eyes so big and full of pain
Too swift the feet, now skinned knees, and tears that cannot be contained.

Disobedience dared defy my rule of calm down or clean up your mess
Rebellion which does not yet grasp the sin within that does progress.

Peace overcame me as I watched contrition fill the little soul
One day, I pray, they will follow Jesus who can make them whole.

Love filled me with joy so great as I was snuggled, hugged, and kissed
by the sweetest little treasures in all the world that ever did exist.

For my boys Maxwell, Charles, and Oliver.