365 Because of 1

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ONE YEAR, people. One year of this miracle is upon us.

Jason’s heart attack was February 19, 2016, and we decided the best way to celebrate was to go back to the place where we all gathered those fateful days. This time, to say THANK YOU. And also, this time Jason will be AWAKE.

So we’ll be gathering on the lower courtyard between the two towers of PIH Hospital on Sunday, February 19, at 2pm, where so many meals and prayers were shared that week, to share again. First with each other via hugs and stories and food (potluck style). And then with the hospital as we put together a love gift for our amazing nurses.

If you’re local, it’s open invitation. An RSVP here would be great, but not required. Please bring these things:
– food to share (potluck style)
– your stories/memories
– your praises
– $ to go towards nurses’ thank-you gift (suggested donation: $10)

Another way to say THANK YOU, especially for those that are not local, is to donate to the Hospital directly – PIH is a non-profit hospital, which still blows my mind. We asked them to set up a donation page dedicated to the Critical Care Unit and would be honored if you’d consider giving. 

Because what they do every day is why we’re coming up on 365 extra days.


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Be Mine

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Be mine. To have and to hold. To love and to cherish.

Be mine. Six little letters that speak a books’ worth of life and love.

I mean, we were only breaths away from this Valentine’s Day being a graveside visit. Instead, I got to throw down six dollars (SIX!) on a thin piece of cardboard that captures my heart in six letters.

BE. Because it’s not a given –  it is a gift.

And MINE. Holy wow, that word. Also not a given. Also a gift, one we get to choose every single day – to have a “mine”, and to be one.

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends. May you celebrate both the BE-ing and the MINE-ing in your world today.

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2017: Let there be LIGHT

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This is my anthem for 2017. My fight song. Let there be LIGHT. I’m really struck by the word let. Because I wonder how often I just … don’t.

And let here is not about us somehow giving God permission to be God, to be Light, because He already is. No, this song isn’t about that. It’s about letting that Light be true in us. And through us. And me thinks I probably stand in the way of that more times than I know.

One thing I definitely know to be true about light, about life, about good, is that sometimes we have to first face the dark, the loss, the ungood. That’s why I wrote Friday’s Rain – because grief is the way we work out what has found it’s way in.

While Jason and I worked hard together on writing and releasing Friday’s Rain last year – with a chapter in process about Martha and Lazarus when Jason had his heart attack – yes, for reals … sorry, I digress. Anyways, THIS YEAR, we are opening it with new eyes and new hearts and, honestly, new griefs too. Actually, I haven’t yet met someone who isn’t carrying something pretty major from 2016 …

So if you’re like us, and realizing that 2016 brought some stuff IN that you’d like to work OUT, well, I want to invite you to join us.

Grab your spouse, your friend, your best. Every order placed this week for Friday’s Rain will come with a FREE second copy. Because let there be light. And let us find it TOGETHER.

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O Holy Light: The Pell-Mell of Hope

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I can still hear it. Our crashing pell-mell down the stairs on Christmas morning. We sounded like a herd of elephants. I can see my little brothers in their PJ’s. I can feel my elbows crashing into one of their rib cages to ensure I got there first. I can remember racing back upstairs to pick up my baby sister as she whimpered at the top of the stairs because she was both scared and excited at the same time.

And I remember somewhere, at some point, deciding that racing pell-mell was ‘for the kids.’ Right up there with the magic of all things Christmas.

It’s been a long time since I’ve pell-mell-ed.

This year, I’ve recaptured the wonder of pell-mell-ing. And also, a bit of its desperation.

Even this morning, while my body slept in and adulted through Christmas like a childless-champ (including a stocking full of fur baby toys – yep, that’s a thing) … this Christmas my heart was pell-mell-ing towards hope. Towards light.

Because this year I’ve tasted darkness I didn’t know to be afraid of. This year I’ve lived in the shadow of death. This year I’ve seen fears realized. My own. Those of others. I’ve seen darkness come in to steal joy and marriage and money and life itself. I’ve seen darkness flood hearts and minds with doubt, anger, and terror.

Maybe you have too?

I don’t know your story. But I know OUR STORY. And it’s one that starts in darkness, that feels surrounded by impossible, but has a God racing to us in redemption and light – what if we dared to pell-mell in return? Because the God we celebrate today is the God of the impossible. He’s the one who brought a baby through a virgin. The one who brought a King through a baby. And life through death.

This video captures the story many of you have walked with us this year, where HOPE was found even as it was lost.

So Merry Christmas, friends. The light has come. And in that, we have HOPE. Unexpected. Unearned. And unlimited.

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Thankful fistbumps

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A few years ago we developed (and confessed) our childless fistbump: The fist-bump about celebrating the as-things-are-right-now moments.

This year, that’s how I’m thinking of Thanksgiving. This year there are some big, OBVIOUS things on my gratitude list. Only the easiest year ever to answer “what are you thankful for?” There are also some less obvious griefs. I know Thanksgiving tables everywhere will be filled with equal and sincere doses of gratitude, grief, and granax (Xanax-induced-gratitude). 

My friends at Homefront Magazine invited me to write about how I learned to give thanks in all things, something I had to wrestle to the ground in our unplanned unparenthood – or better said, something that had to wrestle me down. Also, that’s very different than gratitude FOR all things. So very different. Tuck that one in your back pocket because it’s name is grace.

So I thought I’d share the article this morning because maybe as you head into a day of thankful fist-bumping, maybe a little reminder wouldn’t hurt that gratitude and grief are not exclusive of one another. That the thankful-fistbump can be an expression of both. And that practicing gratitude is practice – we get better at it the more we work that muscle.

So, my friend, thankful-fistbump to you and yours, whatever you’re bringing to the Thanksgiving table today. 👊🏻

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Homefront Magazine excerpt (Unplanned Parenthood, November issue)

 She’s got angel’s hair – so blonde it’s almost white. With an angel’s face to match.

She’s four. And precocious. And already carries a fierce stubbornness that is going to make her a challenging teen but amazing woman. She’s in her question-asking stage – Why this? How that? I know some of the answers, but not all.

As we sat together and watched Up, she narrated. He likes balloons, she’d say with a grin. Her giggle was infectious as the love story of Carl and Ellie unfolded.

When they started painting the nursery, she turned to me with a conspiratorial smile and half-whispered she’s going to have a baby. I then saw her head go sideways when the next scene shows Ellie sobbing in the doctor’s office: why is she crying?

Ah, this answer I know. She’s really sad because she isn’t going to have a baby, I answered. Why can’t she have a baby? Well, not everyone gets to. She let that answer sit – I could see that it was brand new information for her brain.

But did she get happy again? Yes. Yes she did.

How? Well, she had a different adventure.

Contended, my niece snuggled in and took a deep sigh, as if the breath she’d been holding had depended on how I answered that question. I marveled (and chuckled inside) at how simply her child-heart had accepted that answer. Because it was an answer my grown-up heart had wrestled with for years.

See, I had set out to be a mom. Instead, He taught me about being His child.

I had waited and watched for the day my womb would be full. Instead, He entrusted me with emptiness.

Owning, living, and braving our story of unplanned unparenthood meant learning how to thank the God who gives and takes away.

Even though I knew I was to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:18), I spent many days ready to punch the next person who reminded me. And barrenness can take so many shapes and forms, but mine was literal, and my tears were fresh on the day I came across this odd instruction in Isaiah: “Barren one … go enlarge your tents and strengthen your stakes” (Isaiah 54:2). It sounded kind of, well, cruel. And confusing. Two things that I know God is not. So I simply asked Him “what does this mean?”

I looked at my ‘tents’, the rooms in my heart. I looked to expand when I wanted to shrink. I made more time for friendships. I signed up to be a counselor at a camp for foster youth. I dug into Scripture and discovered loss doesn’t have the last word. I turned to my ‘stakes’ – my marriage. I looked for ways to strengthen it. To invest in it. To fight FOR my man and not with him as our hearts wrestled with an undefined future. I guess you could say I began practicing gratitude before my heart knew what it was doing.

And this passage in Isaiah – this odd instruction to expand when everything in your world says to shrink – goes on to tell us that God has compassion on us the same way we have all the warm feels for newborn babies. [Insert eye-roll about God using a newborn baby metaphor to speak to a barren woman, but I digress.] And THIS is where we find the freedom to give thanks in every circumstance – whether our tents are small or large, our stakes are strong or weak – we are His babes. YOU are His child before you are anything else … before being a wife, or a mom, or a non-mom, or a businesswoman, or a ministry leader, or any of the many labels we can carry.

I love that we get to practice gratitude even before we understand it – and even on days we want to punch the next person who suggests it. That we can encourage each other to ‘enlarge our tents’ and ‘strengthen our stakes’ because we know that fullness and emptiness can exist at the same time, and that we don’t have to carry empty, barren spaces silently – be it an empty womb, an empty heart, or an empty place at the dinner table.

You mamas amaze me. You have been entrusted with the sacredness of fullness, even when it means nights empty of sleep. Your tents are stretched and pulled on a daily basis (and I’m not just talking about breastfeeding). Your stakes are tested by the hour. And they hold. I think most of you know what a sacred role you’ve been given as MOM. I love that we get to remind each other that the sacredness is there with or without that title. Because before we are anything else, we are His beloved littles. Having all kinds of different adventures.

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Amen to the Long Road, America

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Last night took us back to a hospital hallway. ER this time. Before I continue: *Jasons fine* – an ultrasound and ekg later, we were probably experiencing a reaction to a drug change.

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So that hallway. I actually spent most of yesterday writing out some big feels about “that other” hospital hallway, because watching the post-election response felt a lot like being there, where trauma can breed trauma. Where hearts are on the line and you can’t believe some of the things that people will say, like they’re missing the whole point.

Hospital hallways trigger me now. There are things I heard in them that I can’t unhear. Things like alarms and bells and monitors yes, but words too.

I think this election cycle is our country’s hospital hallway. Where alarms went off and fears were identified – some fears realized and others averted. And where words have been said that can’t be unheard.

And in moments we least expect, we might find ourselves back in another hallway, and our PTSD may trigger, and even if *everythings fine* that time, we might still shake and quake.

Healing is the long road. Can we amen it? I hope so. I choose so.

Amen to the long road, America.

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A Girl and Her Heart: Girl, Meet World [BIRTHDAY release!]

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I could not be more excited to introduce you to A Girl and Her Heart. TODAY is the release day in celebration of my favorite HEART, and the fact that we are LIVING a miracle

Girl, meet World.

video-linkhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5R4foBqY7ME

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Also, a SPECIAL BIRTHDAY OFFER.

For every order this week that includes the note

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY JASON”, Jason and I will BOTH autograph your copy.

(available only on orders through this site – silly Amazon won’t let me into their warehouse)

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Also available at

amazon

(just remember, I can’t add anything extra, adorable, or extra-adorable to Amazon orders)

 

 

 

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So there’s this Girl [new book giveaway!]

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So there’s this Girl. And I love her. And I’m so excited for you to meet her.

I met her about six years ago as I was living her story. The story of a Girl who needed to remember some big things. Some big truths – like who she is, Whose she is, and what makes her heart truly beautiful. She needed to remember that she’s enough without any of love’s trinkets. Because love itself is already hers. Priceless love. Without cost. And timeless beauty. Without expiration.

So I took this Girl to meet an artist friend of mine, the amazingly talented Jenny Lewis. And she loved her too. And she poured that love onto page after page of beautiful hand-drawn illustrations.

And now, thanks to the cheerleading of countless friends … A Girl and Her Heart is ready to meet you! This is the first illustrated storybook of a series I’ll be releasing under Big Truths for Little Hearts – and it’s only right that this first one starts with the core, the heart of everything, reminding us that love and beauty don’t start with us: they are gifts we receive and share.


This Girl is ready to bring those big truths into the hearts of all the littles – and bigs – YOU love. She releases on October 23, 2016, in honor and celebration of my Jason’s (miraculous) birthday.

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So it’s BIRTHDAY WEEK! Which means GIFTS – I’ll be drawing a name each night to GIVEAWAY an autographed copy of A Girl and Her Heart! Watch every day for how to enter.

ENTER TODAY’S GIVEAWAY:

One entry for each of the following:

  • Comment below
  • Share on your Facebook or Instagram
  • Tag girls who you want to tell: YOU ARE LOVED, SO LOVED, JUST FOR BEING YOU!
  • One entry for every friend you tag – and when you tag them, they are automatically entered to win too! (Be sure to tag me too so I can count it!)
  • Entries close at 7pm every night (PST). You can also skip the wait and GO PRE-ORDER HERE. Books will ship immediately after October 23 and I’ll personally sign every pre-order 
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Holy nap-time

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Holy end of September. I feel like I’m just waking up from a nap. One of those crash-your-face-into-the-pillow and wake up chagrined by the drool kind of naps.

And actually, August and September were filled with a lot of those. I’m real sad I was such a jerk to naps when I was a kid. I guess I’m making up for that now.

Recovery is no joke. Right now I’m in the tired phase. I mean, we’re talking exhausted on a level that is totally foreign to me. But also in a way that is just real. And just recovery.

See, crisis immediately slows down and shrinks your world – in a good way. It instantly becomes obvious what needs your time and attention and what does not. Coming out of crisis means expanding that world – also a good thing, but tricky too. Finding a post-crisis-pace requires new definitions and new priorities, but the old ones are the habits that already know your name. And they taunt and test and sometimes trick you … thus commencing the drool-inducing-naps.

It’s no mistake that my current reading includes Present over Perfect, The Year of Living Danishly, and a novel about knitting (that I’m actually enjoying!). I’m learning the sacredness of slowness in a fast world.

A few weeks ago Jason taught on a passage in 1 Kings – I love me the Old Testament, but I haven’t hung out there in awhile. He taught through the passage where Elijah stood on Mount Carmel and tested the Baals – the false gods – in an epic dual with the true Living God. He literally saw fire rain down from heaven.

And then … he took a nap. No, for real. The day after he lived a miracle, Queen Jezebel threatened his life and Elijah ran into the desert to hide. He was wiped out, and there in the desert God met him with kindness, and food … and naps.

This is the amazing God I’ve been cuddling up with the last few months. The one who is all-powerful and all-kind at the same time, whose glory is seen not just when He allows us to have a front-row seat to miracles, but also when He cradles us as we collapse.

So be your fall fast or slow, may you find Him near, whether you’re standing on a mountaintop proclaiming glory or snuggling in the shadow of His wings.

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Wonderland

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We did it. We took a vacation. In a post-crisis reality, this is a big deal. You better believe there was some big celebration of what before was taken for granted. Because post-crisis, there are a lot of things you say goodbye to. Some forever, like naivety. Some for a short while, like vacationing. And because of Hank, this much-hoped-for vacation was not green-lighted until the day before we actually left. And oh my goodness, for those who didn’t see the update ala Facebook and Instagram, Hank is a wuss and NOT a cancerous tumor!

So as we come up on the six-month mark after Jason’s heart attack, we jumped a flight to Alaska and joined up with besties to explore Wonderland. It delivered. We rested. We played. We danced in the rain and shine. And I only had 2-1/2 panic attacks.

But seriously, what a wonder-full world. And even on the rainy days, we carried the sunshine in our pockets.

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