Monday, September 22, 2014

Is This Real Life?

So, a LOT has happened since I last blogged (clearly, blogging is not on my short list of things to do).

Long story short: My prayer for 2014 was that God would give me a breakthrough in my writing. Well, He showed up in ways I never expected, and He answered BIG!

  • I signed a contract for my first book with a brand-new company that I am over-the-top excited about.
  • My book is mentioned here and here alongside fantastic authors I have adored for years.

This is such a gift of His grace and I'm so thankful! 

If you're chasing a dream, please keep pressing in. I know how loud the discouragement can be, but God put that dream in your heart because the world needs it. Tell the voices to shut up, and chase on! I'm praying for your breakthrough.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Light Breaks Forth

Here's a little Christmas poem in celebration of Jesus, the Light of the world. May you feel His nearness today and throughout the new year. Merry Christmas!

Light breaks forth.

Amidst our longing, grief, and brokenness. In poverty and pain.

Our sighing, dying, crying souls can barely speak His name.

We're hanging by a thread of hope - a brittle, frazzled shred.

We're bruised and tattered, torn and worn. Can't lift our weary heads.

Our hearts cry out, "How long, O Lord?" Can't wait another day.

We need You near. Come close. Lean in. Kingdom, come and stay.

Light breaks forth. 

Who is this child, this man, this God? Who steps from Glory's place?

Who leaves crowns & thrones on high to live among the fray?

Only one could give such love. Only one could pay.

And with Him brings our hope restored, fulfilled in every way.

He comes to us, our Christ, our Lord. Alone He saves the day.

Light breaks forth. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mother's Day Syndrome

This one is from the archives, but I feel this way every year on Mother's Day, so I thought it was worth reposting. Hope you all have a happy Mother's Day!

Me and my sweet babies.
Mother's Day is just a couple of days away, which means all the school kids have been busy making treasured gifts for their moms. The gifts usually include a plant or flower of some kind, and a card full of sweet drawings and misspelled words written by precious little fingers.

Teachers these days are so crafty and creative. They want your Mother's Day gift to actually mean something to you, so they ask your kid all kinds of questions about you, then put their answers in permanent ink so you can treasure it for all eternity. A wonderful idea for most people, I'm sure. Me? Not so much.

Why? Because those thoughtful little gifts cause my Mother's Day Syndrome to kick in. MDS is a disorder that causes a mom to break out in a cold sweat and have an elevated heart rate at the very moment she begins to read her child's answers in the sweet little Mother's Day card. All she can think is, "What has this child said about me?! Has he/she exposed every one of my weaknesses as a parent?"

I had an episode today because Corban brought home her gift for me. It's a cookbook compiled by her Kindergarten class. All the kids made their own page to showcase their favorite food that mom makes, including the recipe and all the ingredients needed. There's also a cute picture of the kid in a chef's hat and apron, holding a spoon and a bowl, and there's a little cartoon bubble with a quote from the child about why mom is special. So precious.

And frightening.

As I began to read the book, all I could do was wonder what was going to be on her page. I was afraid it was going to go something like:


Chicken McNuggets

Hop in your car and drive to McDonald's. Talk into the talky thing and tell the lady you want some chicken. Please pull to the first window, then the second window and then they hand you some chicken.

My mom is special because she only yells at me sometimes, not all the time.

Lucky for me, here's what it really said:


Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookie Mix

Put the cookie mix in and crack the eggs into it. Then you mix it all together. Put them in the oven.

I love my mom because she plays at the playground with me.


I haven't always been so lucky. Here's a sample of some of the cards I've received in the past. The bold print is the sentence the teacher gave, the italics are my beautiful offspring filling in the blanks:

All day long, my mom... takes a nap. (this one had a lovely picture of stick-figure me in bed with lots of z's above my head)  

My mom is so smart, she can even... eat a whole roll in one bite. (also with a picture of stick-figure me with crumbs all over my face)

It was so funny when... you burped a long time ago. (That never happened!)

I love my mom because... one time she played with me. (and if you keep giving me cards like this for Mother's Day, it'll never happen again)

My mom's favorite tv show is... a tornado watch. (Pick any other show and it's more my favorite than a tornado watch)

M - Much Love (Awww)
O - Open Minded (Okaaaay?)
The Best (Yay for me!)
H - Honest (Always)
E - Excellent (Yes!)
R - Rather Cunning (Really? You're in 2nd grade. How do you even know these words?)

Oh well. At least I have a whole stack of cards to look back on and laugh.

Happy Mother's Day!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Haiti Part 2: Getting There

Our awesome Haiti mission team.
My family's experience in Haiti was life-changing, and the journey to get us there was nothing short of miraculous.

For most of our adult lives, Ron and I have felt called to the people of our own city. We've always thought of ourselves as "local missionaries," and while we admired, appreciated, and supported those who felt called to go, we knew we were called to stay. We had never been anywhere else, and we had no desire to change that. Our passion has been for the poor and the oppressed who live right here in OKC.

Enter Jacey Crawford. In addition to being a ninja-level prayer warrior, our middle child is also a lover of children. She's a giant magnet for all manner of kids and babies, but she has a special love for orphans. Her dream for as long as she's been alive is to grow up and adopt a rainbow of children from different countries around the world. So when our church announced that they were planning a mission trip, Jacey heard the words "Haiti" and "orphanage" and she was sold. She turned to me and said, "I'm going to Haiti. I don't care how it happens or who goes with me, but I'm going." And I knew she wasn't kidding around.

The only problem with that was our finances, or lack thereof. Because of some major changes in our circumstances, the last couple of years have been really difficult for us in a lot of ways, but especially financially. The prospect of taking an international trip was so far out of our range, it was almost laughable. When we brought this little detail up in conversation with Jacey, she just looked at us and said, "Duh. I'm gonna pray about it." And we all know what happens when she prays about something.

So we started praying that if God wanted us to go to Haiti, He'd make it very clear and provide a way. At first, we thought only Jacey and I would go, but the more we talked and prayed about it, the more our whole family wanted to go. We knew it would take miraculous provision from God whether two of us went, or five, so why not ask for the whole shebang? He is the One who can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, right? And if we weren't supposed to go, we prayed He would make that clear to us, too.

At the end of October, we went to the first meeting to get information about the trip and our eyes nearly popped out of our heads when we started adding up the total price for a family of five. In addition to the trip cost, we would also need passports, shots, medicines, clothing, and lots of other supplies and incidentals. Ron and I shared several this-is-never-going-to-happen looks throughout the course of the meeting. Our kids whispered, "Are we going?" We whispered back, "We'll have to see." (which all parents and kids know is code for "No").

But after the meeting, before we even had time to get out of our seats, a friend came over and sat with us. She grabbed my hand and began to tell us how the Lord had been speaking to her about our family. "I just really feel like your whole family is supposed to go on this trip," she said. Then she told us that she and her husband had a lot of reward miles and they'd like to use them to pay for all five of our plane tickets! She had no idea how we had been praying, but in that moment, she was the embodiment of God's answer to us. Tears pooled in my eyes as we looked at our kids and said, "This is our answer. We're going to Haiti."

The next order of business was to get our passports, but we needed almost $1,000, which we did not have. We had a plan for fundraising, but at this point, the only action we'd taken was prayer. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that over the next few weeks, our friends and family just started handing us money, saying, "We heard you're going to Haiti and we want to help." We stuffed the money in an envelope and by the end of December, we had enough to apply for our passports. We were told to allow at least six weeks for processing, or we could expedite them for an extra $300. On the day we applied, we were exactly six weeks from our travel date. The agent who did our applications said it was a gamble, but we didn't have the extra money for expediting, so we continued praying that if God wanted us to go, He'd make a way. Our passports arrived in our mailbox two and a half weeks later.

Next came shots and all the required meds, which is much more daunting when you don't have health insurance. We were looking at another $1,000 or more for all five of us to get everything we needed. But throughout January, more friends and family jumped in to help fill our envelope, and we were referred to a travel health clinic that was rumored to give discounts to people going on mission trips. On the day of our appointment, we sat through our consultation with $800 in our envelope and asked the nurse to give us only what was absolutely necessary. As we went through the list and added things up, it came to $1,025, so we decided to get everything the kids needed, then Ron and I would get ours later. The nurse was so kind, and finally just came right out and asked how much we could spend. I pulled out our envelope and told him we had $800. He punched in a few things on his computer, then grinned and said, "Hmm. Looks like I added some things wrong. That'll be $800."

At this point, we were less than three weeks away from the trip and everything was falling into place. But every good story has a major conflict, and ours came in a phone call on a Thursday morning. Our friend had tried to purchase our plane tickets, but there was a glitch. She wouldn't be allowed to use her reward miles until the next billing cycle, which started the day before we were scheduled to leave, so there was a good chance that there wouldn't be five seats available on the flights we needed. The temptation to freak out was huge, but God had already orchestrated so many things, so we kept praying. If He wanted us to go, nothing could stop us.

For the next ten days, we prayed and waited. We filled our prayer jar with all our concerns. Worry and fear hovered just below the surface, but deep down, we knew that God was about to do something amazing.

Our prayer jar.
I think there are five separate prayers
about our plane tickets in the jar.

Eight days before the trip, we got another phone call. Our church had rallied around the mission team and collected special offerings to help with the remaining costs. After the final count, there was enough money to buy all five of our plane tickets. And, just like God, He put us in First Class on one of the flights.

There were countless other details that God took care of, too, right down to providing precious friends to keep our dog for us while we were gone.

We asked if He wanted us to go, and He said yes.

Now, all we had to do was pack.

How about you? Do you have any crazy trip-planning stories? Or a story of God's amazing provision? 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Walking on Water

I'm over at Writer...Interrupted this week. Come on over and say hello. 

The story of Peter walking on water has been speaking volumes to me lately. I heard a teaching on it about a month ago and it sparked a new fascination in me. It's one of those stories I've heard countless times since childhood, so it amazes me that God will speak something fresh and new for my life out of a story that is anything but fresh and new.

Keep reading here.

Monday, March 25, 2013


The view from our bus. Mountains on one side...
My little family went to Haiti last month.

We were part of the mission team from our church and it was, without a doubt, the best thing we've ever done. If you've been around me for more than five minutes since we returned, you're probably wishing I'd just shut up about Haiti already, but as you can see, that's not happening. :-)

Beautiful turquoise ocean on the other.
We were only there for five days, but we experienced so much that, here we are a month later, and I've just now begun to really process it all. I don't know how to respond to the things we encountered there, but I am absolutely certain of one thing: That kind of experience demands a response. I can't just keep going as if nothing has changed.

My eyes have been opened to suffering that my mind cannot comprehend. My heart has been broken for a nation crippled by poverty and injustice, but captured by a people full of hope and life. What am I supposed to do with all I've seen? How should my life be different? How can I keep scrambling and striving to make myself more comfortable when I've fallen in love with people who have so little? These are the questions that constantly thrash around in my mind.

For a couple of weeks after we returned, we were in a sort of depression. Several friends who had been on similar trips had told us to expect it, but I don't really know if you can emotionally prepare for such a thing. It was just hard to be back. The excess of the American life felt oppressive and unfair, and we missed everything about Haiti. We looked through our pictures multiple times a day and talked about our new Haitian friends constantly. The depression (the "Haiti Haze," we called it) wore off after a while, but the questions remain.

We live in the tension of knowing we've got to do something, but having no idea what that something is. We know whatever it is will be long term. We know we'll love Haiti for the rest of our lives. We know we can't wait to go back again and again. We know we want to make a difference in someone's life in Haiti -- hopefully, a lot of someone's -- but we don't know the best way to do that yet. Our minds have swung in every direction, from "Should we just sell everything we own and move there?" to "How can we help build more homes and schools?" to "How can we sponsor more children?"

We have no clear answers, but I know they're coming. For now, though, we'll take up residence in the tension, even though it's messy and uncomfortable. We tend to want to escape the tension too quickly, when that's often the place God is doing His most transformative work. He's the One who took our family to Haiti, and He'll be faithful to show us how to respond. May we be courageous and obedient when He does.

In my next few posts, I'll be sharing more about our experiences in Haiti (shocking, I know). God was so very near to us along the way, and He's working powerfully there. I look forward to sharing the journey with you.

How about you? Have you had a season of wrestling with God for answers? Have you been on mission trip and felt that post-trip depression? How did you handle it?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Guest Post at Writer...Interrupted

I'm over at Writer...Interrupted this week talking about discouragement. I'd love for you to stop by. While you're there, be sure to check out all the great articles for writers.

Click here to read more.