the cost of a life on mission

In the back wood hollers of Eastern Kentucky there lived a man named Hoge (pronounced Ho-ge). He grew up with two brothers in a little town called Irvine, but he always wanted to see more of the world and he loved meeting new people.

By the time he was 17, he was ready to see the world. He wanted more than anything to be a Marine. World War II was in full swing, and his father knew that the Marines were sent to the frontlines of battle and that was the last place he wanted his son. So this wise father recommended the Navy medical core – the men who took care of the Marines.

So as soon as he could enter the Navy (going as far as to forge his documents so he could enter a year early), Hoge did. All of his experiences of the war were underwritten with the grace and miraculous providence of God. Time and again his life was saved – including literally watching a German submarine torpedo shoot directly under his boat missing his and exploding another boat.

After the battle of Iwo Jima he visited the island, and walked the sandy beaches that had been soaked with the blood of young soldiers, those for whom freedom cost them their lives.

Maybe it was the realization of how many had sacrificed their lives in the war. Whatever it was, in that moment he felt a presence that was unlike anything he had ever felt, and he fell to his knees. He recognized the Spirit of God inviting him into a greater surrender and sacrifice.

The only thing he could say was, “I’ll go anywhere, do anything, at any cost for your glory, God.” He thought he was living a mission of a lifetime until that day on Iwo Jima where he surrendered anew to God’s call.

My grandfather kept living this motto every day of his life. First he thought he would go into politics and change culture that way. However, no matter what he did, God kept bring him back to preaching and pastoring. He was too authentic and real to be a politician. He was best at loving people and talking about Jesus.

The words “at any cost” always impacted me as a kid when I heard him tell this story. They felt extreme, maybe too much for one person to fully digest much less a child. But they were words that always stuck with me and ones that I wanted to define my life.

A life on mission is life that costs you something. Really anything worth doing is going to cost you something. Sometimes this “life on mission” does not look like going overseas and living in a foreign country. Many times – I would even venture to say every time – a life on mission calls us to step outside our comfort zone in whatever context we find ourselves in.

My grandfather took a natural interest in people and their stories. How many times have you asked your server at a restaurant what their full name was and where they were from? Would that be out of your comfort zone? My grandfather, if he didn’t already know the server, would always find out the answers to these questions. He was always curious about people their stories.

No, a life on mission does not mean that you try to a “win a soul for Jesus” at every turn. It means that you are open your eyes to the reality of others around you and you step into their lives. It means that you cultivate curiosity about other people. It means that you are willing to shut your mouth and open your door to the lonely, the poor, the needy and your neighbor – maybe your neighbor is all of those things.

The cost of living on mission might mean that you do move overseas. Or it might mean that you open your door to your lonely neighbor and offer them dinner and a conversation and listen to their story. When you are willing to count the cost and pay the price you will receive a story you could have never written for yourself.

My grandfather had a full life. It was not perfectly well planned or even well executed all the time, but he was convinced since that day on the beach that the cost of following Jesus was worth it. Obedience to Jesus was worth the cost. It’s in the moments where we are fully aware of the cost that we more fully identify with the cost Jesus paid for us. This is freedom. This is a life worth living.

The Journey is the Destination

“The journey is the destination. The process you’re in is the goal. Success is never defined by the outcome but by the process.” Paul Young 

When I read this I feel kind of at a loss, like all I had worked so hard for was for nothing. You know that feeling? The one that makes you feel that deep sinking feeling of disappointment or maybe even anger. I’m a pretty task oriented person. I like knowing that I can get something done and then check it off the list. But when you’re in ministry, this is not so easy. 

Ministry life centers around people so if you don’t like people it’s a good chance that a career in ministry is NOT for you. For task oriented people like myself, ministry is not out of the question but issues arise in when I make people the task. Oh, how easy that is to do. 

Maybe you’re thinking, “How could you make people a task?” Maybe you’re even judging me; I don’t care. I guess I’m just honest. I think everyone has done this at some point in their lives whether they want to admit it or not. Maybe you’ve made your kids a task. At the end of the day you’ve fed them, bathed them, read all the books, and put them to bed but all the while you were stressed and moved them on from one thing to the other until you turned off the light and shut that door *cue deep breath*. Or maybe because you’re so busy with all the aforementioned things you lie down on the bed with a big sigh and pray that your husband doesn’t come in wanting to have sex because it would be another thing you would have to do just to get some time to yourself. 

Yea. I said it. 

I don’t want you to read that and feel condemned. These are examples from my life – you’re not alone. Life is tiring and sometimes it’s ok to take moments to ourselves. I do want to write that and make you think about where are the moments in the process of life that you’re actually authentically connecting to others. And what are the little moments of connection that you’re missing because you were too focused on achieving the end goal (whatever that is for you)? Whether people are your business or you just live with people this applies to you. 

Life is about connection to God and with people. When I have truly connected with someone the best in whatever context is usually when I have slowed down, invited them in or spent 2+ hours having coffee or eating a meal. Life is about the process not the end goal. 

As a “ministry person” my job is people. More specifically it’s to create space in my home and my heart and my family where people feel safe, safe to belong and then safe to believe. I follow Jesus and I believe He did the same thing. 

If you take Jesus’ approach to children, he never seemed to rush them off because he had better things to do. He said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14) A child can’t automatically grow up and be mature. As much as we can hurry them off to bed, we can’t hurry them through one developmental stage to the next. Neither did Jesus hurry his disciples through one teaching to the next in order to level up their maturity.

He walked them through a process of discipleship. He told them the most confusing advice instead, “Become like a child.” What the heck did that mean? It meant they couldn’t achieve the end goal either unless they learned to RECEIVE. They couldn’t achieve or earn the Kingdom he offered. They had to accept and receive the process.

How were they suppose to do that? How do we even begin to do that? It’s a PROCESS, a journey of changing our thinking. We will only mature in God as much as we learn to receive from God. The process of receiving never ends just like our maturity never reaches an end goal.

Where then do I need to become like a child? Where have stopped enjoying my relationship with Him and treated it as a task I needed to get over? Or where do I need to start to slow down and enjoy my relationships with my family and my community again just for the sake of enjoying? (If you can’t tell, I think in questions – anyone else an Enneagram 6?)

These questions come from a heart that longs to receive the freedom of the Holy Spirit instead of trying to earn it. Bob Hamp of Think Different Academy says, “You cannot produce through effort that which is designed to be released through surrender.” So my last question to you would be what destination do you need to surrender to begin to enjoy your journey again?

Coming Home?

It’s been a little over a year since we moved back from Spain. It was the only home my boys had known. It was the place we had become a family of four, the place we called home.

Our little fam right before leaving our home in Salamanca, Spain. (L-R Titus, me, Asher and Will)

So what does it mean to come home when you’ve lived overseas? You’re actually leaving your home to come back to a place that remembers you as you used to be not who are you now. Think square peg in a round hole-not comfortable.

Our three years in Spain weren’t easy. I had a baby our first year, then postpartum our second and then lived through a pandemic our third year. We like to pack in the fun. Despite those things we left a part of ourselves in Spain. We wept when we left our friends, our home, our familiar places. But we both knew we need to come back to the States to regroup, change sending organizations, and let God heal our hearts.

Many people asked us, “Aren’t you glad you’re home?” Or they would ask our family members in front of us, “Aren’t you glad you have them back?” How do you I even begin to explain how weird this question is? I’m not mad at people for asking it because it was coming from a place of care but they didn’t understand what we had experienced. You don’t know what you don’t know.

We weren’t home. We had left our home. What is home? As much as I’ve been processing this question, my kids have had to process this too. My oldest especially has felt this tension asking questions like, “When are we gonna move to our home, Dada?” while we were living with my mother in law when we first came back. Kids understand more than we give them credit for.

My friend gave me a magnet that had this saying on it:


A place of rest while we are this earth.

A safe place for our children.

A place to love and be loved.

A place that is beautiful.

A Haven.”

This “place” will change. Although it will physically change, wherever we live we can make a home, haven for family. Wherever we live we make a home when we are safe for one another and our children, when we are loving and offer hospitality, and when we care for the space we are in. The question of what “home” is becomes easier when we look outside of our things and our physical dwellings. So much of our Western mentality says you have to have things in order to be ok. Is that really what we need though? Or do these things just give us something to control when our worlds are out of control?

Sometimes things give us a sense of stability and that’s not wrong. I want to be more aware of the things that might give my kids stability amidst transition moving forward. More importantly I want to give my kids a safe place no matter where we live where they can express their emotion. So what is home? Home is family. Home is settling no matter where we are or how long we’re there for. Home is a safe place.

The voice that defines you

How do I hear God?

I´m not going to pretend to have answers to that question. The reality is even when we´re searching for the 5 steps that get us the answers to these questions we want something that feels more real.

What voice do I hear over and over in my head and in my heart? If I´m honest it´s not one that´s very kind to me. It´s a hard task master to keep it together, to not be burden, to stay on schedule. When I´ve been honest about that voice, people usually say that must be really hard to balance all that. It is. I´m not trying to do some deep heart work here. But I´m pretty sure it´s come from being let down and building walls to protect myself. If I´m in control no one can hurt me. If I do it myself, I don´t have to ask anyone and then I won´t be let down. So naturally our relationship will be better, right? Wrong.

Could that actually be the voice of God? If I were talking to anyone else, I would hope they weren´t hearing those things and thinking it was God.

Why do I allow it to rule in my own head and heart then? Could it be that the fear of change is more comforting than actually stopping and letting myself hear His voice, letting His voice define me? For me it has been.

What keeps us from hearing clearly? Noise. Stress. Hurt. Pain. Distractions. We build walls to protect us but they actually keep us from hearing truth. Like the child with her hands over her ears and screaming, trying desperately to get her way, she can´t see or hear that the Father´s hand is outstretched to her. She can´t see that maybe He´s even crouched down and opening His arms to receive her.

When I stop to think on that picture it´s one that´s hard for me to accept sometimes because it seems to easy. How could he just take me in without me having to do anything? It´s like I want to make it hard on myself.

O God, may we open our eyes and shut up long enough to see that you are crouched down with open arms ready for us to receive. May it be your voice that defines us. May we accept that it need not be complicated for it to feel ¨real.¨ May we accept that it is not about us and what we can do, but it´s about you saying that I am loved and I am beautiful right now as I am.

You were meant to THRIVE not Survive

We hear a lot about detoxing these days. Health and wellness are trendy words but I’m not about to write on the latest detox. I’m passionate about holistic health and wellness because I was tired of being tired in a lot of ways. Just a couple years ago I was in ministry, I did not take care of myself, I was probably a little malnourished and a lot burned out. Yet no one took the time to sit me down and say you’re valuable enough to to be taken care of too.

Jesus said, “The greatest commandment is this: Love the Lord your God with all your heart soul, mind and strength AND love your neighbor as YOURSELF.” If we never understand that we have needs and how we can healthily get those needs met, we live in a state of survival or mere existence.

This is about seeing yourself as the imago Dei–the image of God. When we realize that we bear the image of an almighty triune God, it should change the way we view ourselves AND those around us. We were made for more than just survival or constantly giving to everyone’s needs but neglecting our own. Because you were created in His image you have value. Period. You’re worth taking care–body, soul and spirit–of because you  are the beloved.

Let’s talk practical implications of this. Don’t you feel the physical effects of stress on your soul when you’re burned out emotionally? Aren’t you more susceptible to sickness at these times because your whole being is exhausted? Wouldn’t it make sense that we should use more care and intentionality in how we live our physical lives because it affects us spiritually too?

I don’t believe that this life was meant to be as complicated as we make it sometimes. We sometimes get lost and can’t see the forest for the trees between all the trendy new things to do and gadgets that help us manage ourselves better.

Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly.  If I could just slow down for a minute and hear him, maybe I’d see that he’s not trying to trick me or it’s for everyone but me. Maybe I’d see I was made for more than just survival and basic coping skills or working my whole life just to retire. No, thanks. If holistic wellness means asking myself what my body and soul need, then maybe I could live a life not just for me but see those around me live thriving lives too. Because when I’m balanced in who I am mind, body and spirit I can effectively do whatever it is God’s created me to do.

Get To Know Us Series: babies, changing hormones & choosing joy

 Titus has been lovingly called a “holy interruption” and that is what he absolutely was. Although I had entertained the idea of children as a single girl, we only just started talking about having kids eventually when we found out we were pregnant. 

That fateful day I saw the TWO blue positive lines I was scared and already feeling a little hormonal. Every year I pray to get a word for the year. The funny thing was last year I felt like that was word was “faith.” God was going to do a new thing in my life, but little did I know it would bring about a complete new, little LIFE. 

Obviously, Titus was not in “the plan.” I am a what you call a Type A person. Maybe you wouldn’t realize it when you first meet me. I come across as pretty laid back, but no. When the rubber meets the road I like to know what to expect; I like a solid plan most the time. A baby was not in my plan at that moment. 

                                                                           (Jan 2016)
As you can see from my face in the above picture. I did not know what to do/think/feel. I nearly had a panic attack the month before when I thought I was pregnant. But when I realized I wasn’t pregnant my prayer became, “Lord, give me a peace when it does actually happen.” At least I knew I didn’t want to welcome a new life into the world with fear and anxiety. SO the NEXT month, when I actually was pregnant, I knew it well before I saw those two blue lines because there was peace. 

Don’t get me wrong. There was still some fear but I definitely wasn’t going to have a panic attack. The peace passed my understanding. Fear and anxiety are a real battle in my heart and mind. They were a daily struggle especially through those 9 months. 

Those 9 months came and went with very few of my fears or anxieties acutally coming to fruition. My pregnancy wasn’t really that bad. I was able to give birth to a healthy baby naturally without complications. My fears were not founded. Has it all been completely easy? No. Breastfeeding didn’t work for us. Working full time and being a full time wife and mom is hard and stressful. I wouldn’t change any of it and the joy it brings us. 

But It begins and ends with our choice. Will I give into the fear and the anxieties? Or will I choose joy? Some days it’s a tension of living in the middle of both. Being a mom, some days I feel overwhelmed. Some days the lie of “I’m not enough.” Rings very clear in between my ears. But I still have a choice to feed it or believe Truth. I am enough. Amidst the most hormonal of days, I can choose to what I listen to. Even amidst the crazy I can choose joy.