Making Hard Decisions in Fear & Love

Sometimes I hesitate to make difficult decisions because I am afraid of potential consequences.

Looking stupid? Huge fear.

Wondering if I am smart enough? You bet.

Afraid of missing out? Uh-huh.

Afraid of failure? All of the above.

There may be a lot of reasons to say no, but I never want fear of the consequence to be one of them.

Several months ago, God began to lead my ministry into a very different arena. As I began to prayerfully seek His plan, a door opened for a full time position in a Christian school close to home. All of the scary feelings came crashing in for months. The biggest question that pestered me was, "Am I being led by love or being pushed by fear?" Is it my love for ambition and work that is at the root of this decision, or is it the fear that I won't have value if I am not contributing to my family? I'll admit, both of those scenarios can be true on any given day. But I'll tell you something that is even more important than what I love or fear: it is WHO I love AND Fear. My relationship with Jesus is before, above, beneath, and behind every big decision. There was no way I would be willing to make the sacrifices I have made if it weren't for the sweet urgency of my Father.

It's one thing to live through something painfully hard, it's another thing altogether to let a fear-based scenario dictate how I respond. I decided that there was no way I would know the answers to all of the questions unless I actually walked through the intimidating door of fear.  I slowly put one foot in front of the other and before I knew it, my whole life looked a bit different.

For the first few months I thought that I had obviously misinterpreted God's plan, and that I had most certainly signed up for something I was clearly unequipped for. But then something happened as I let my fears fall away one at a time. I began to feel carried....lifted up..., even loved on in supernatural ways. All of those doubts turned into palpable moments of intense humility, yet grand new challenges continued to emerge.

I've transitioned into my new role quietly, not knowing how it would effect the ministry opportunities that have been my source of joy for years. I'm still not sure how it will all unfold, but I do know that some things are just going to need to look very different for now. For one thing, I am not regularly writing like I used to. I've penned my feelings and prayers since I can remember, so that will definitely not go away. But, I just don't have the time I used to have to be able to sit in front of my computer and plink out my feelings one finger tap at a time.

Another thing is, my days are not mine anymore. I used to be able to not schedule myself when I needed to catch up on life and love on my family a little bit. I am now in a season where I wonder if I will ever feel caught up again. I have a shorter fuse because I have less control. And as I type those thoughts, I see the need to relinquish that same thing yet again.  

Yet-- I have gained!  Oh dear ones, I would boast all day on the gains of following Jesus if time allowed.  But since it doesn't, lets just keep it simple: The joy of laying myself down to walk in the steps of my Savior will always be found in the hardest, most fear-filled choice.  But, it will always be the place that even with intense busyness, my soul will find rest.  I spent years of organizing and plotting every move, only to arrive in a place where I physically feel out of control.  But when it comes right down to it, the Spiritual life was meant to be that way.  If I can control it, then it belongs to me.  When I give that control away and walk through the intimidating door of fear, the consequences no longer have power because I have given them to God.

Every fear I listed at the start of this post has come true.  Yet, here I am.  Fearful and brave.  Scared of making the wrong choice, yet soldiering on in search of whole-hearted obedience.  Exhausted, yet deeply resting in the love of the Father.

What hard decision is He calling you to make today?  Will you make it out of fear or love?  I'd love to walk it out with you as we learn together what true obedience really means.

Life Will Either Make You Bitter or Better. Choose Better.

About 10 months after we adopted, my husband came home from work to find me in a heap on the kitchen floor.  My eyes were swollen from tears, and the kids had ransacked the house as I held my knees next to a pile of legos.

“I can not do this” I bawled.  “It’s too much.  We’ve ruined our family.”

And he pushed aside a toy truck, and crunched through some Cheerios and sat next to me in the mess.

For a long time he didn’t say a word.  He held my body, and as I cried, he cried too.

I don’t even know what the kids ate for dinner that night.  But I can tell you what happened after we dried our eyes.  My husband sat there with me on the floor and we made a plan.

It wasn’t a huge life plan that was long and drawn out. It was literally a plan of what the next 24 hours were going to look like.  

He stayed home from work the next day and I went to meet with my mentor (who happens to also be my mama:)

As I recounted the story to her of how I had literally lost it on the kitchen floor, she sat back and marveled at the fact that I had made it 10 months without a breakdown.  Then she said something to me that I will never forget...

Christina, when Brandon got home from work and saw you on the floor, did he yell at you for the messy house and tell you to get up and feed the kids?

“Well, no.  He put everything down and walked over and sat with me.”

Please tell me that you can see how powerful that is?

This is exactly what Christ does for us over and over again.  He sees us in our mess.  He knows that we are on the verge of losing our mind, and what does he do?  Does he yell at us and tell us that we were made for more than that?  And that we should get off our butts and get some work done?

No!  Our God crunches through the Cheerios and sits down with us in our mess.  We do not have to wait till we are cleaned up and polished to go to him.  

He wants us messy.  

He loves us in our mess.

The reason that my mother is my mentor, is because she is literally one of the best humans I know.

She has endured more pain and heartache than anyone should ever have to, and I have had a front row seat to watch her wade through the muck for as long as it took to come through each story victoriously.  

As we sat there talking about the mess that my life felt like, she reminded me of the saying that her mother taught her and all of us as we were growing up.

Life will either make you bitter or better. Choose better.

You see, when life happens to us, (and it always does), two things happen:

  1. You will change (that is inevitable)
  2. You will choose how you will change

We can either allow our life circumstances to turn ourselves bitter over time, or we can allow them to make us better.

Pain is unavoidable.  How we react to pain is what will define our lives.

I didn’t leave my mom’s house knowing that my day to day life was going to get any easier.  

But, I did leave with renewed hope, knowing that next time I found myself on the floor in a heap, I wouldn’t be alone.  Jesus would be there waiting for me in my mess.


Are you brave enough to look at yourself in the mirror without any make-up?  What about post a picture without any filters?  Who is the real you?  Do you like her?

What happens when you don’t like who you see?  That day on the floor of my kitchen I wasn’t even strong enough to look into the mirror. I was so far past that, that all I could do was hold my own knees on my kitchen floor.  

My goal for you today is to read this with a renewed hope of how to rock your bare face and really love that lady staring back at you in the mirror.  Not because you are capable, but because God is capable in you.  This is the good news!!  He doesn’t expect you to do it on your own.

I've got three "A" words to help you start looking at yourself differently today.

1- Admit weakness.

This can mean simply saying it out loud, it can also mean that you need have a conversation with someone is your life and ask for help.

I am not asking you to fix anything yet, just simply to “go there.”

"I cannot bring homemade cupcakes for the harvest party, I do not have that margin right now."

(One thing about getting older is I have noticed that I am much more confident in the things that I am not good at.  It helps me to know where I am weak, and it gives me a new found joy when God brings someone into my life who is good at things I am awful at.)

2- Abandon Comparison.

Comparison will kick you in the teeth and hijack your dreams every time

When I fall into the comparison pit, I am left feeling fearful, inadequate, and lacking confidence.  

When I start comparing myself, it means it is time to start knowing my truth.  If I don’t have any truths that I am feeling particular awesome at, sometimes I just need to know that God created me for a reason, and He has it all worked out. I write verses on 3x5 cards and leave it everywhere.

This is one I have been using lately:

For I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for ME to do. Ephesians 2:10

3- Accept love.  

Just as you are.  Do you even know how much He loves you?  Even if you never did one more thing, Our Father in Heaven will never stop loving you.  He loved you before you knew who He was, and He will continue to love you for all of eternity.

God doesn’t leave us alone in our pain.  While everyone else crosses the street to avoid it, God was the first example and continues to be the best example of literally crossing the street to come into contact with our pain.  He loves you messy. 


A Little Note for Foster Mamas

Yesterday our family served at a festival for foster and adoptive families. In her innocence, my daughter Hope asked me in a quiet moment,

"Why can't all these kids get adopted?"

I told her that some of them might already be adopted, and some of them might be waiting for the adults in their life to decide what is best for them.

"Is this the same place you adopted me?"

"No, sweet girl."

I reassured her that she was never alone, and that a very loving mama took care of her before she came home to our family.

"Can I see that mama? Is she here?"

"She's not here. I don't know if you will ever see her again. But, you might! Look in my eyes baby, I just want to make sure you know that I will always be your mama."

She nodded her head and smiled.

"Just curious though, if you did see her, what would you say?"

"I would tell her that I love her."

THIS is why you do it foster mamas! For just 8 weeks, Hope's first foster mama took care of her exceptionally well. She came home to our family very loved and cared for. I could see the pain in that foster mama's eyes when she handed a pink bundle over to me explaining how she liked to drink a bit from her bottle at a certain temperature before she fell asleep every night. This mama may never know that Hope is thriving now. She may feel like those 8 weeks were pointless because that baby went on to live with a forever family and she was just the temporary mama.

Not true!! My daughter will always know that a selfless foster mama was a part of her story. I will always tell her as much as I know about those first days with her. She will know that her foster mama sent a handwritten list explaining in detail of how to care for her.

That first mama picked my baby girl up from the NICU. She drove her to the clinic to get her first shots. She rocked her and steadied her legs as they shook the remnants of substances away. She patiently fed her for hours as Hope choked nearly every time she had a bottle.

Thank You! With tears streaming down my face, I want to personally thank you for being a foster mama. Thank you for stepping in when the rest of the world is stepping out on these precious babes with their future in the balance.

Hope loves you, and I love you, too!

Capable Moms

We are about 6 business days out from the first day of school around here and I am feeling the weight of sun, sand, and 1,000s of miles together in the FamVan.  I have also reached my limit on playing Mom Ref, Mom Psych, Mom Chef, and Mom Maid ALL DAY LONG.

My joyful countdown to the last day of school two months ago has turned into an exhausted huff as I wave the white flag of summer parenting.

The idea of "limits" kept me tossing and turning as I chewed on the word "capable" over and over in the night.  I tend to think of myself as a very capable person.  I'm not shy about it, and I prove this to myself as I take on tasks sometimes just because I enjoy a challenge.

Motherhood was a challenge that I didn't think twice about taking on.  For 13 1/2 years I have relied on natural instincts while also gleaning much from my own mama and all of the other information rolling around the www.  But-- there is nothing like 8 weeks with my little people that makes me question all the things.

Was I ever really cut out for this job?

Did I become a mom for the right reasons? 

Am I being punked?

The thing with being capable is that it can also come back and bite you.  My capabilities rely solely on what I can do.   This is dangerous territory as it will take the weight of whatever it is you are trying to do and heave it into your soul.  So, even though I might be capable of mothering (during every other month sans July), when the pressures of it all become too heavy, human nature buckles and my very capable self takes a dark turn.

My capabilities shock me.  I am capable of so much more than I ever thought I would be, and unfortunately these next few truths are not pretty....

Did that actually just come out of my mouth?

Did I really just tell everyone that dinner is sugar cereal in front of the TV?

Did everyone on the couch just witness me throw a full-blown mom fit?

I can't believe I yelled that loud, responded that sarcastically, or stayed up that late watching The Bachelorette.  

Who am I?

 I can't even claim some summer monster has taken over my body.  Just as much as I am capable of doing good, I have found that I am just as capable, if not more than, of making some pretty poor decisions.

It's possible that if you are still reading this, than maybe some of your own capabilities are coming to mind.  Don't cover your eyes, keep reading...

I have good news for both of us!

We were never meant to carry any burden alone!  Not only did God create generations (i.e. moms, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, etc.) to mentor and lean on,  He also continually reminds us that we are not expected to be capable people.

We are only expected to be students of his grace.  It is sufficient.  We can rest in it.  We can rely on it.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

Dear Mama, I am giving you permission to take your capable crown right off your head this very minute and lay it down at the feet of the One who is so very capable.

Now breathe.

3 Ways to Raise Kids Who Love (in a world that doesn't)

This article was written after reading about the 49 people who were killed in a tragic shooting spree at a gay club in Orlando, FL by a man who pledged allegiance to ISIS on June 12, 2016.

Sitting down with my morning coffee and the latest news, I gasped with horror as the newsfeed recounted tragic events in Orlando, Florida the night before.  My reaction caused one of my sons to lean over and catch a glimpse of the screen.  Instinctually, I pressed the phone to my chest wanting to shield my child from the details of the violence and hatred I had just read.

I processed.  I prayed.  I wept.  Then, I knew it was time to have another hard conversation with my family.  Brandon and I discussed the immediate effects of violence across the country and raising kids who live by their conviction, yet are tolerant of another's belief.  Another's lifestyle.

I don't even like the word tolerant

, I said with tears in my eyes.

I don't want to raise kids who are just


.  Neither do I want to raise kids who are taught to overlook differences.  Tolerance and overlooking is not enough.  Sympathy is not enough.  We need to model and teach through action and conversation what true, biblical love should be.

I will teach my children to embrace another human simply because they are flesh and spirit just like we all are.  This is the way we were created to love another.  

Brandon and I sat over coffee and renewed our parenting souls with a few truths we hold deeply...

*We will raise world changers who love.  Because God is love, and we will reflect our God.

*We will raise humans who are catalysts of change.  Because of their deeply rooted faith, our hope is that they will choose this option above all others.

*We will use the precious time we are given to teach our children to live out the love we are called to live (not just add sentiments to social media when tragedy hits).

But how?  In a hopeless world, how can we raise kids who truly know how to love?  

In an effort to offer a few simple ideas, here are three ways to begin:


Do not shield your kids from facts in hopes of

preserving their innocence


  This will only blindly promote the dogma that leads to ignorance.  I understand the desire to protect.  I really do.  But if we don't have hard conversations at home, our kids will have them somewhere else.  I promise you, they will.  Something I say often when talking to other moms-- 

It is our job to be first in their ears



Look to scripture to find promise and hope

.  I needed to share the facts of the horrific event with my kids, but I also wanted to point them to the immediate hope we have in Jesus.  Because of our faith, we don't have to tell our kids the bad news and leave it there.  We have promise of a joy that comes in the morning.  Rejoice with your children in the promises of their Savior.  (For this specific conversation, I found great peace in the words of Psalm 30).


Don't wait for tragedy to strike to talk to your kids about loving others

.  These conversations should be on repeat throughout their lives, starting very young.  Have them look for others in need of love.  Encourage them to befriend everyone, especially the unique or set apart child in their peer group.  Go out of your way to expose them to people who are different than they are.  Encourage conversations with friends who have different religious backgrounds, are racially diverse, or live an alternative lifestyle.  Better yet, invite them over for dinner.  

Love others together as a family


None of these ideas will distract from the foundational truths they are getting at home.  In fact, loving others will only reinforce what they should already be learning through scripture.  Our kids are more in sync with the world around them than we would like to admit.  They were born into this generation for a reason.  

When given the proper tools, our kids will be hope spreaders and love givers.

Equip them with the truth of the gospel and the love of their Father and you will have done your children and our future world unspeakable favor.   

You have turned my mourning into dancing.  You have traded my clothes of sorrow and clothed me in joy that I may sing praises to you and not be silent.  O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!    -Psalm 30:11-12

Unify PHX

A few years ago, I met my friend Cherie Wagner through an uncanny avenue immediately following the very first IF: Gathering.  We had both traveled to attend the Austin event, and never met while we were there.  After coming home and connecting through Facebook, we realized that we lived abut a mile from one another.  My friend Erin came over, and we invited Cherie to join us for a conversation about all things IF, living in Gilbert, and how amazing God is when He connects people.  A friendship was born built on similar passions, giftings, and our love for Jesus.

I don't remember the exact moment, but somewhere in our coffee and breakfast dates, Cherie began to share with me her vision for unity in the church.  We both happen to be members of large mega churches that are also within a few miles of one another.  We felt robbed that it took an event out of state to connect us with someone who was so close, yet because we attend separate churches, so far away.  I echoed her sentiments, and the conversations continued.

Hours upon hours of plotting and scheming, along with the support of Cherie's non-profit ministry Neue Thing, and numerous women from churches around the valley, we are pleased to announce that Unify PHX is happening.

Unify PHX exists to Encourage, Equip, and Empower women from many different churches.  We seek to come together to worship and uplift one another through the message of Jesus Christ.

All three keynote speakers actively attend different God-centered churches around the valley.  This is true of our entire team.  Every time we get together to plan the events of the weekend, I know that God is smiling as we all strive for one thing: to give glory to our Maker, the One who is the Beginning and the End of it all.  

And so, I am personally inviting YOU to this incredible two-day event.  I know of many that are even coming in from out of state, so don't shrug it off if you aren't from around here.  For all of you locals, you no longer have to travel to find a quality conference!  You will walk away with tools to thrive in your spiritual life, as well as new friends and connections with others who are literally your neighbors.

Unify PHX will be held October 21&22 at Grace Chapel in Scottsdale, Arizona.  For more information and to register for this incredible event, go to

(Not) Another Love Note

When I first saw the note on the 4th stair, I instantly knew it had been conspicuously placed for me to see on my last round of making sure all lights were out before going to bed.
My initial thought?  This couldn't be for me!

My next thought: Yep, I recognize this 8 year old handwriting, and yes, this is most definitely for me.

I laughed out loud and put it in my pocket to keep forever (or at least to bring out at a precarious time in his life when we can all laugh about it together someday).

Please note that he did not know if I would see it at night or in the morning, so he made sure to put "yesterday or today" to really make sure I felt the gut punch whether evening or dawn.  After laughing about it a bit more, I decided to share it with you all this morning for a few reasons.

1.  I laughed because I know my kid.  I know that he was not being disrespectful, nor was he lying.  This kid does not beat around the bush. He means what he says.  He is honest and forthright.  I raised him to be that way, so I can't get offended when he says his mind (respectfully, of course).

2.  Sometimes my kids' days DO suck because of me.  This can mean one of two things.  Either I am making them do chores, finish a school project, eat peas, you know, parenting them.  Or, I am actually having one of those days and I am making everyone's life hard around me because my life is hard too, and well, there's that.

3.  The author did not get lectured, grounded, or threatened because of this note.  I chose, instead, to meet him at his wit and challenge him with kind words this morning.  I saw the look in his eyes as I thanked him for my note, telling him that I will treasure it forever.  I am greatly anticipating a talk after school that will consist of how the words we say can be hurtful, but I am suspecting this child could actually lecture me on this topic, which is why he wrote it in the first place.

4.  My kids teach me, sometimes I think even more-so than I teach them.  I laid in bed last night and thought about how true that statement had to be for him to actually write it down for me.  I thought about other people in life who may have wanted to pass me the exact same note, but instead they just walked away hurt by something I said or did.  I kind of wish that adults could have some of that same tenacity and actually tell other people when they suck.  Or, well, maybe I don't.  Are you still with me?  The bottom line?  Kids are honest and I can appreciate that.

5.  I am fine with being the "sucky" mom if it is for the good of my children. But, I also want them to know how much I LOVE them.  I want them to sit on their bunks in their college dorms someday and tell their roommates that even though sometimes their parents sucked, they know now that it was because I wanted God's best for them in life.

And just so you don't think I have completely fallen off the parenting wagon:

6.  We don't say the word "suck" in our house.  Truth: it is not on the list of "absolutely, not tolerated words," but when someone does get too cool and decide they can use that word, my next statement will always be you are much smarter than that word makes you sound, pick another word.  Or, that word makes you sound like you don't have a mother...  You get my drift.

The author of this note knew exactly what that word would do to me and that he would already be fast asleep when I read it, so he would not have to endure any sarcasm from his mama.  His game is strong.

Last thoughts....  My goal is to make my our home life suck as least as possible.  I don't always get it right.  There are days, too many to say, that I throw around words and pout my way around, resulting in wasted hours and frustrated kids.  I try hard to to do this less.   I give my kids permission to always let me know how they are feeling.  I promise them that their feelings are not what get them into trouble, it is their actions that can get out of hand if they don't deal with their feelings.

SO, the result?  Notes like this.  Long conversations.  Tears of joy and frustration.  And pure, solid, realness.

Moving Past the Fairness Myth

{The Daydream}
It was a long week.  My husband was out of town on business and I was doing "double duty" keeping our multiple schedules spinning.  The 'mom' role is tiring, but the 'mom and dad' gig for days at a time can be downright debilitating.

As Friday drew closer and the clock ticked toward the hour my husband was to arrive, I daydreamed about tossing him the oven mitts as he walked in the door.  I would push past him, calling out down the driveway, dinner will ding in a few minutes.

"It's your turn!" (I would yell in a tone that let him know this was no joke).

And he would just be standing there, bewildered, with his briefcase in one hand and his carry-on in other.  And I would be FREE!!!!

As I sat there on Friday afternoon matching socks and dreaming of what I would do as I drove around town in my husband's tiny hybrid (not my mom van that has the turning radius of a toaster) a sweet, yet sort of sinister smile held to my lips.

The dryer buzzed, alerting me to the next load ready for folding and I snapped out of my thoughts.

{The Reality}
As much as I would (sometimes) love to act like that, and have thoroughly considered the thought, it would never fly in our relationship.

And, I would not want it to.

"It's Your Turn" parenting creates a scoreboard for which each partner is constantly checking off their duties as if the children and the home were tasks to complete and not lives to be lived.

It assumes that the other parent has not held up their end of the bargain, that somehow you are "ahead", while your spouse is "behind."

It creates resentment in each partner as they are constantly weighing in on how much each of them has done versus how little the other has not.

"It's your turn......I took the dog out last night"

"It's your turn.... I have been driving all over this town"

"It's your turn.... I made dinner 6 nights this week"

"It's your turn......I always get up early on the weekends"

Before you go all "get out of my business" on me, let's both understand how common this kind of relating is, and how we have all been guilty of saying this, doing it, and not thinking twice.

Here I am, about to be the friend that actually makes you go there.

{The Missive}
"It's Your Turn" parenting is spilling over from an "It's Your Turn" relationship.  It is even possible that assuming we all take turns is a product of an environment you were in as a child... like, possibly the playground?

How did a rule we learned in kindergarten get carried into our marriages and become the standard for how we parent, and possibly even many of our relationships?

Pain Avoidance.

We live in a world where we are taught to avoid pain at all costs.  Our sensory system is built to naturally avoid pain, so some people would argue that we can't help pain avoidance.  But, we are also created as sinful humans, and that doesn't mean we can give in and stop fighting against our own flesh.

Consider an athlete who trains for hours, constantly pushing their body to the limit.  Or, how about a mother in labor?  Think about emotional pain, like a necessary break-up, or the pain of moving away.  All of these forms of pain are meant to push us through the pain to make us better than we currently are.

So why then, does the concept that pain = growth (which is a good thing) not carry into our most meaningful relationships?  Or if it does, we I still struggle with it so often?

I believe that we have bought into the lie that life is supposed to be fair.  Even though, if you are "adulting" properly, you know good and well that things are not always fair.  But there is something in us that still wants it to be, or even feel like we need it to be fair.

James 3:17 tells us, "But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere."  (ESV)

The word impartial is what I was looking for.  You see, that kind of wisdom is from above.  I believe that James is telling us that God's love for us is fair.  Meaning, he loves everybody equally.  He is also a just God, which basically means that without his forgiveness, we will all get what we deserve.

Unfortunately for us, this does not trickle down into relationships with each other here on earth.  In fact, God says things like "walk humbly (Micah 6:8) and that "the last shall be first" (Matthew 19:30).  We can't forget the countless times that He taught us to take the posture of a servant, and pointed out those who did as blessed, and those who didn't as sinners.

So, what does this have to do with mom exhaustion and a desire to hand my husband the oven mitts so I can drive off into the sunset?


If I am more focused on what I have done, than on what God has done for me, then I am missing the very reason God calls me into community and puts people in my life to form relationships with.  To have real, unhindered relationships in which I can love others the way Christ would want me to- I have to put aside the checklist.  I cannot count how many times I "step-in" versus how many times my people "step-out."  And to be honest with you, it's really not fair.


When I love others without a thought of what is fair, I begin to experience the agape love that God desires for me to fully know.  I can more easily digest this concept of servanthood as a calling, rather than as a lopsided scoreboard.  The path to holiness is so much more than our simple minds can comprehend, but He loves us for trying.

Drop the myth and step into the mess.

Who is willing to try with me?  We will start by looking for opportunities to set our stuff down, so that we can pick someone else's stuff up.  Instead of telling our spouse that it is their turn, we will keep our head in the game and work it out together.  We will raise our kids to be humble instead of worrying about what is fair.

Others before self.  It's a concept.  It could be a movement.