From Friday to Sunday


In the beginning – yes, the very beginning – a path began toward a Sunday in Jerusalem.  The Sunday to end all Sundays.  The Sunday to begin all Sundays.  The Sunday that we celebrate this weekend.  The Sunday that we celebrate because our Savior rose from the grave.

But before Sunday came Friday: the day he was placed in the grave.  I have to confess that I’m rather fascinated with Friday because we coin it “Good”, and yet it is one of the darkest days for Jesus’ closest friends.  And in my many years of church attendance I’ve always felt the tension from the services that aren’t quite comfortable ending on a dark note.  Something makes it hard for us to talk about what happened that day.  We’d so much rather talk about Sunday.

My fascination with Good Friday started several years ago as I sat in a church service listening to some beautiful (and appropriately dissonant) choral music.  It struck me that Friday, when it’s boiled down to its essence, is this:  utter and complete disappointment.  Shock and devastation.  With seemingly no room for a happy ending.  The biggest possible let-down of all time happened as the disciples watched their Messiah be arrested, crucified, and buried.  As I realized this simple truth, I had no idea that I was on the verge of a season with God that would absolutely rock me.  That would strip down my theology just like Friday rocked Peter’s.  I had no idea that I was entering a season of death, disappointment, frustration and loss.  I had no idea that my very own “Friday” was on the horizon.

Sitting from our vantage point in history, I think we’re quick to want to jump to the answers that Sunday brought;  but Friday brought the questions, and the questions are what make the answers matter.  Even though some of the answers are devastating (like Peter realizing that he WAS in fact capable of denying Christ), I think we have a lot to learn from Friday.  My Friday opened up the real questions for me, the ones that were too deep and too dark to look at until I was forced to.  Questions like Is God really sovereign – as in, over ALL?  Is God really and truly good?  Is it possible for something ugly to still be “good”?  Is it possible for life to come out of death?  On Friday, Peter had to decide whether he’d actually take God’s answers over his own expectations.

If we’re honest, I think we all know what Friday looks like in our own worlds:  when we thought our theology and our faith was enough to get us through (Peter: “I will go to the death for you!”) turns into fear and confusion and maybe even denial (Peter: “I don’t even know him!”).  When we had to face some hard things about our God, who does in fact let pain and ugly coincide with beauty.  And then we have to face some hard things about ourselves – like how we respond when we don’t get our way.  Like discovering that we had a way of our own after all.

Some of you are there now, on a Friday.  A time when your theology is clashing head-first with your heartache.  Let me just say this:  There’s no way to make Friday un-painful.  We can call it Good Friday now, but I have a suspicion that if we had walked up to Peter on that fateful Friday and called it good, he would’ve punched us in the face.  Friday hurts.

As I sit here today, I’ve come further in reconciling the truth of both Friday and Sunday.  Of both pain and beauty.  Of both loss and Redemption.  I’ve learned that the Gospel is both.  I wonder what would it look like if we could embrace both with more freedom:  the lows of Friday-disappointments and heartaches, and the highs of Sunday’s restorative work.

Redemption is what happens on Sunday.  Redemption is Jesus conquering every disappointment.  Redemption is what we will sing about for all time.  But for something to need redemption, it means there is something broken.  Friday is what we need to be Redeemed from.  In fact, redemption means very little if we don’t take stock of what needs to be redeemed.  So today, take stock.  Be honest and real with your Savior if there are disappointments crowding out your heart’s space for joy.  And take stock if there are broken pieces that have already been redeemed.

And then share.  Maybe share here.  Maybe share at Church.  Maybe share with a close friend.  But share.  Share if you’re on Friday, because you’re probably not alone.  And share if you’re on Sunday, with a story of redemption and beauty coming out of ugly.


Stories & More



This month and next, I’m guest blogging at, and getting to introduce some great people with transformative stories.


We all have a story to tell.  What’s yours?


Unplanned Unparenthood


Loss comes in all shapes and sizes.  Mine has come in the form of unexplained infertility.  Last year, I wrote this letter to a friend as I began a journey inward:  a journey into and through my loss. A journey of looking loss in the face and daring it to have something for me.   

This week, I’ll be sharing what I’m learning.  For all those that have faced a future different than what they’d planned, Thursday night will be an important conversation:  Join us for Unplanned Unparenthood and spread the word!  


Dear Alli,

Your eyes stopped me in my tracks.  Your eyes hold ache.  An ache I know.  An ache I never ever wanted to know.  And my heart breaks in knowing you are now holding this pain too.  Your eyes woke me up to the almost sacred union of infertility.  We know what many women don’t know.  Won’t know.  Can’t know.  The sisterhood of the empty womb.  Not quite as sexy as traveling pants, but what are we gonna do?

We know what it’s like to spend our first few months trying, giggling with our husbands because, well, trying can be quite fun.

We know what it’s like when it stops being fun. When you have to bust out the thermometer, and the calendar, and seventh grade biology books.

We know what it’s like to experience a slow surprise when, month by month, you realize that everyone else’s normal may not be your normal.

We know what it’s like to hit the one-year mark and gasp.

We know what it’s like to literally ache from emptiness.

We know what numb feels like.

I hate knowing these things.  And I know you do, too.

You are on month 20.  I’m on month 50.  Yes, five-zero.  I probably represent your worst fear.  Between us is another thirty months of disappointment.  After just six months of trying, I was so scared that I’d still be sitting here years later.

And here I am.

Fears do come true.  Infertility makes you face that head on.

I hope your fears don’t come true.  I hope your story of infertility ends this month with a pregnancy test.  But if in thirty months you’re still waiting, I want you to know…

That thirty months later you won’t cry as often.

That thirty months later your life will be full, even if your womb still isn’t.

That thirty months later your marriage can be stronger, and more beautiful, than you’d ever imagined.

That maybe you’ll be asked to love an orphan.  That maybe your longing will teach you about theirs.  That maybe you’ll learn how to love by choice instead of by birth.

That maybe you won’t parent at all.  And you’ll learn to celebrate that path, too.

But I guess the reason I’m writing isn’t really to comfort you or scare you or even challenge you.  I’m writing you because I’m just learning how to talk about this.  I’m just learning that we need to talk about this.

Maybe there are things to gain through loss.

Maybe there are gifts and miracles and promises we haven’t understood or discovered before.

Maybe there’s a freedom we can’t even envision.

I’m ready to find out.  And by “ready”, I mean totally terrified.  But let’s go, step by step, and see what there is to see on this unplanned path.


She Came Back


Last year, I got to share a story on the ROCKHARBOR blog based on my time at Royal Family Kids Camp that summer.  Other true stories from this same camp have become a movie:  CAMP (easy to remember).  This week, I’m making a shameless plug to GO SEE THIS MOVIE, and I’m reposting “She Came Back” to show you a little bit of why I, too, come back each year.  


She Came Back

Sharing someone else’s story is hard.  So I won’t share her story.  I will share mine, and where it intersected with hers.  It was only for five days, and only for moments at a time.  So you see, I don’t really even know enough to share her full story.

I first saw her name when I wrote it on her bunk bed’s sign.  I first saw her face when she peeked out from her curly mop of hair as she organized that same bunk bed.  I first felt her strength when she wrapped me in what she called a bear hug but I swear was a way to show me she could crush me.

She is eight years old.  I am thirty-three.  I have been to this camp before.  So has she.  Royal Family Kids Camp.  A camp for abused and neglected children.  I was scared the first time, but it is now my favorite week of the year.  It is a camp filled with children that are easy to love.  I have never met an 8 year old that was difficult to love.  Until this one.

Let me back up to the first steps she took off the bus.  I wasn’t there for this moment, but I was told that when she first met her camp counselor – my cabin-mate for the week – her first words were of the four-letter variety, words that should be unfamiliar to an 8-year-old, making her position crystal clear:  she was NOT here to receive love.

But we were there to give it.  And all week long she flung it in our faces.  She was obstinate and rude and physically abusive to all adults in her path.  I shed many tears that week wondering “Child, what evil could have been done to you for you to know this kind of hate, this kind of raw mean-ness?”

You see, that’s the part of her story I don’t know.  I don’t know anything about what happened to her before she stepped off the bus, or after she stepped back on.  But for those days in between the bus steps, God’s family – God’s ARMY – rallied and fought and stretched at the seams to prove to her and to ourselves that our love could conquer her hate.  To rise to the challenge of loving our enemies with Christ’s love – all the while wondering how an eight year old just became our enemy.

104 kids came to Royal Family Kids Camp this summer through ROCKHARBOR’s partnership with other local churches.  104 broken stories intersected with about two hundred adult volunteer’s stories.  And most of those intersections are sweet, fun-loving, precious, swimming and splashing and having a good time.  We get to plant some happy memories in the lives of children that have had brokenness hit them all too early.

For five days, 300 stories converge at camp, and let me tell you, it is a beautiful mess.  Messy because the kids aren’t the only ones who come with brokenness.  But beautiful because it is redemption.  Because it IS love conquering hate.  Because it IS an army of believers standing up to the evil done to these children and saying EVIL, YOU WILL NOT WIN.

On the day that she climbed the bus steps to leave camp, I was right behind her.  Leaving a week of camp is sad for any child, but can be especially heart-breaking for a child returning to an unknown fate in the foster system.  So tears are abundant.  In front of me, I heard her commanding a six year old: “Stop crying.  STOP CRYING.”  Oh no, I thought, she is gonna cuss out this 6-year-old for crying.  This is gonna get ugly.

But instead, the next words shocked me as this hard-to-love camper said “I know how you feel, because I cried for a whole week after I left my first year.  But I came back.”

Right there, her story’s intersection with mine became much more than a child who was hard to love for five days.  Right then, she unwittingly let me see inside a heart that has clung to these five days.  Where she will spit.  And we will love.  Where she will cuss.  And we will love.  Where she will run.  And we will chase.  Where she will fight with us.  And we will fight for her.

She came back.  And so will I, again and again and again.