Wednesday, December 31, 2014

a sacrifice of praise

Lately I've been learning more about the sacrifice of praise. What exactly is a "sacrifice of praise?" It doesn't seem like praise should be a sacrifice right? When I think of praise I think of something easy to do...when that extra money comes in, when you get the good report from the doctor, when you just miss a huge auto accident...EASY!  So what would make praise a sacrifice?  I remember singing a song in church when I was younger: 

"We bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord
And we offer up to you the sacrifices of Thanksgiving
And we offer up to you sacrifices of joy." -Kirk Dearman

I had no idea what I was actually saying. 

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.  Heb 13:15

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  I Thess 5:16-18

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:12-13

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Cor 4:7-9

What I've discovered is that a sacrifice of praise happens

in the darkest hours 
when you've been rejected
when someone has given up on you
when God seems far away
when the light at the end of the tunnel has gone dark
when your child just doesn't seem to be getting better
when your marriage just continues to fall apart
when that relationship just can't be worked out
when the bank account just keeps going further into the negative

We bring a sacrifice of praise…

It sounds like this:

Thank you God for my messed up situation because through it I will know you better.  I will not be alone.  You will never reject or forsake me.  I will be pressed but not crushed.  I will be persecuted but not destroyed.  By the way, God, this sucks big time and I don't even know how to say this and mean it…but I'm going to praise you because you command it, you desire it, and it changes my heart.

keepin it real

Until the next time,


Sunday, November 9, 2014

There is LIFE after loss

Today marks 2 years since I had my first miscarriage.  I've been approaching this day with some dread just because I wasnt sure how I'd feel exactly...I think I was expecting to be depressed or something?  It was a horrible and awful experience that I am so relieved to have put behind I should be sad right?

It's funny...every year around this time, Dan and I get an itch to get out of town for the weekend (and Nana and Poppy are always quick to volunteer for grandkid duty :).  We didn't really plan it this way...but our getaways seem to fall on the same weekend each year.  I always wonder...will this time away be heavy?  Will it be a time of grieving?  Is there something more that I need to work through?  So I woke up this morning thinking "'s today."  But, I feel joy.  Unexplainable joy.  There is a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that may always ache when I think of the loss of life...when I see an ultrasound picture, when I hear of a newly announced pregnancy or birth.  I don't enjoy hospitals and I could live very well without ever seeing another ultrasound again in my life.  But, I feel joy.

I share a bit of our story here.  But today I have some things that I'd like to add.  A LOT of people have been affected by a miscarriage, stillbirth, or other kind of infant loss.  I can almost guarantee that the first time a person shares their story there will be someone close that can relate.  The common occurrence doesn't minimize the pain...but it does make us aware that a lot of women AND MEN are silently suffering with this loss.  Unfortunately it is so easy to hurt or be hurt by another person's story...and I hope that my few tidbits can help to ease some of the pain on both sides.

Each person's miscarriage experience is different...but the loss is just as real.  Be careful how you console.
Whether it was a blighted ovum (empty egg), a 6 week gestation, or a full term baby...the loss is just as real.   Yes, the intensity is different, the physical effects are different, and some experiences may be harder to heal from.  The important thing here is to validate each mother and father's experience.  The truth is that none of us know the details...the dreams, the struggle to get pregnant, the process of the trauma...none of us really know what it was like.  Have grace.  Please don't tell them that they can try again...or that it probably wasn't a good time to have another baby...keep your consolation to: "I'm so so sorry." And then just listen.  And maybe even cry.

Dads feel it too...a LOT.
This kind of loss is a loss for everyone...especially daddy.  Don't be so quick to dismiss dad.  He needs help to grieve while he cares for mom and processes the trauma of the loss too.  When I was in the ER and preparing for discharge, I passed out completely and slumped over a garbage can.  My husband was scared...there were a lot of ugly things to see that night and he needs to work through those feelings too. Be a listening ear for him...(My kids were too young to even understand that I was we didn't have to really talk to them about it...but older kids need help here too.)

There is life and joy after miscarriage/infant loss.
I promise.  When I share my story...I talk about how I literally felt cradled in Jesus' arms...I was so sad...but I was not in despair.  I was ok...he held me up.  Some scripture that comes to mind here is Psalm 34:18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
In this life, I'm pretty sure that there will always be a sting...but there is LIFE.  There is joy.  If you have experienced a miscarriage or infant loss...and you have not experienced joy...please contact me.  Jesus came so that we could have LIFE!

I still long to be pregnant again...since this time we had another miscarriage and I fear that my body is done.  So, I may still have grieving to do...

"But I will trust in your unfailing love.  I will rejoice because you have rescued me.  I will sing to the Lord because he has been so good to me.
Psalm 13:5-6

Until the next time :-), C

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


In my small group, we are going through an overview of the Bible.  It has been quite eye opening to say the least.  I really feel like we are all learning something new.  I've often been intimidated by the Bible...I've felt like I wasn't smart enough to understand it...I didn't always know why it was important to know things like Noah and the Ark etc...and I didn't understand the words!  (Partially because I grew up reading the King James Version).  I've learned about it all my life and can recite verses here and there.  But, its never come alive to me in this way before.  I thirst for it...and it is so satisfying when I get to drink it up.  

Okay, so sorry for the Christianese metaphors...what I really want to say is that God is faithful.  Do you know this?  Do you feel that he is faithful?  Maybe not...but he still is.  Why?  How do I know?  Because it is true of his character and he demonstrates it time and time again in his word.  

As we're walking through scripture, I continue to ask myself, why did God want this in the Bible?  What does he want me to know and understand?  There's a man named Abraham (Genesis 12-25) who God asks to do some pretty hard things.  He also tells him that he will bless him more than he can ever imagine.  The guy is faithful...constantly obeying and praising God until he gets scared and tries to help God fulfill his plan.  He takes a second wife, he lies, he worries, he doubts that God is who he says he is, he lacks faith constantly, he laughs at God, and the list goes on.  Does this sound like you?  Someone you know?  God continues to remind Abraham that he WILL bless him greatly, and while he experiences consequences for his choices...God remains faithful.  He takes what may have been meant for evil and uses it for his glory.  He blesses the child born to the "other woman", he redeems the lies and walks him through the times of worry and doubt.  He even gives Abraham the opportunity to petition God not to destroy a city where his family lived.  

God continually reminds Abraham of who he is, and renews his faithfulness and covenant despite his decision-making.  He does this because he ultimately had a heart that desired to please God.  That's it...he was just trying!  He acknowledges when he screws up, takes responsibility for his choices and then tries again...

This should be a comfort to you...because it means that you too can experience God in the same way.  I'm pretty sure this is why God wanted these stories in that we could see people like us doing amazing things through the power of God.  

God's word is is applicable for all time.  God doesn't expect perfection-in fact, he knows that we will screw up perhaps in a really big way-but his promises are true and he will redeem the screw up...all of them.  He just wants your heart.   He just wants you to try.  He's there to help and guide you. He will ask you to give up everything and suffering will most definitely come because we live in a messed up world!...but he is FAITHFUL!  Always...Do you see it?  Or are you giving up on God because he's not doing what you think he should?  Perhaps a change of perspective is what we view our situation with the lens of who God is.  

How has God been faithful to you this year?

Until the next time :-), C

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Joy in the Journey

Today I am feeling an excitement like I’ve not felt in a long time.  To be quite honest, things are a bit bleak…the bank account is drained, friends are hurting, and there is a lot of work to do…but I am excited.  God has chosen us to sell out…to give it all up.  We are slashing bills, giving things away, and learning to live with much much less.  We are taking risks…jumping off of metaphorical bridges…and I’m excited!  There truly is joy in the journey.  

We want to walk with you throughout life.  If you need someone to talk to…Dan and I would love to meet with you as couples or as individuals.  Not because we’re perfect…because we’ve tasted God’s grace…his mercy…and we love walking with those that want to go deeper.  

We’d also love to teach you more about Jesus.  Check out our website to join one of our 5 small groups or join us on a Sunday evening.  

Come and see...

until the next time :-), C

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Let's talk about church baby...

Let's talk about church.  THE church...not A church.  There's a difference...did you know?  This past year, Dan and I have been in a lot of churches, staff meetings, interviews, and just meeting a lot of ministry leaders.  I have been impressed by the presence of a kingdom mindset.  The Kingdom of God...all of those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ and surrendered control of their lives to Him.  We may express ourselves in different venues...some wear suits, some wear cut offs.  Some have sleeve tattoos...some like solitude, some prefer hymns on an organ, some like the loud crazy dance around music.  Some like grape juice, and some like WINE.  Some hide underground and drink in the words of the Bible like their lives depend on it...some are tortured and imprisoned for their faith.  Some fight over the color of the carpet...(hopefully they repent).  All in all, we are all a part of the Kingdom of God.  There can never be too many venues.  Shoot...let's have a venue in every house right?

I've learned so much.  My comfort zone has been a small speck in the rearview mirror of my life.  And, it is good!  We're planting a church.  A different kind of expression of the Kingdom of God.  We believe in real life church...meeting people's needs...keeping it simple.  It's not THE right's a specific expression of the Kingdom of God.  Sometimes there are kids running around like crazy...sometimes two of us are crying in a coffeehouse together.  Sometimes there are hard conversations...sometimes there just isn't enough money.  God has called us to a life of unknown...but it is is is good.  It is an adventure.  Our church has already begun...come pray with us.  Come and get to know Jesus.  Come and learn to build relationships for God's glory.

Until the next time :-), C

Friday, June 20, 2014

Happy 10th Anniversary!

His gift is writing to gift is bragging about him.

Last night was amazing.  It was our tenth wedding anniversary and my husband is a true gentleman.  It all started with blocking his calendar a few weeks in advance with "plan anniversary date".  He planned ahead...that means a lot to me.  He found a babysitter that allowed me to relax and not have to rush to get home.  He planned dinner for them so I didn't have to think about it.  (All of those details tend to stress me out for some reason).  He told me that we were doing something different and gently asked me to wear that little black dress...the one that's a little too small in my opinion.  He wears his suit...because he knows it drives me wild and I don't usually get to see him in it.

 I'm running around trying to find my earrings and to get Hannah to put her clothes on when I see someone come to the front door.  There he is in his suit, with roses and a card.  LOVE IT.

We get it all together and get in the car to leave.  He plugs in his phone and begins to play his predetermined love song play list...first up is Adele's "make you feel my love".  He says, "if you want to open your card now, you can".  In it is a 5 page letter outlining and remembering our last 10 years together.  PRICELESS.  I immediately tried to think of how I would keep it from getting ruined or wet or know cuz that's just the life stage that we're in right now.

We proceed to talk about a million things. He says that he prayed that it would be the perfect night...because we've had a lot going on and we haven't had a date in forever.  I say a quick prayer too that things go as planned and I would have a good attitude...because sometimes I can just be a brat.  We arrive at the restaurant and are wined and dined and made to feel very fancy and special.  He picked a new place...unique and different and I just loved it.  The next step is to get dessert, drinks, and music at a cute little hole in the wall with historical significance...I would expect no less from my guy :).  We tried some new things and had lots of laughs.

I feel so blessed to have a man who knows me...all of the details...and after 10 years he's still working hard to make things special and to impress me at every level.  He is a true gentleman.  He treats me like gold...all the time.  He remembers things that I have long forgotten.  He writes with passion and detail and he isn't afraid to grovel just a little :).  I love you Dan Samms...I love you like crazy.

Until the next time :-), C

Monday, June 2, 2014

small miracles

I wish I could describe the way that I’m feeling tonight.  I've tried numerous times today to put it to words…but I just can’t quite get it out.  If you happen to have stopped by my little blog in the past year, you will know that God has guided me through quite a journey complete with mountains, valleys, and lots of windy and mangled roads.  All the while though I have this sense of closeness with Him…I feel my roots digging down deeper and deeper.  I’ve learned to lean into him more.  I’ve learned to walk with him more closely.  

Dan, myself, and our kids are in an exciting time of our life.  I’d love to tell you more about it over coffee at Panera sometime.  We are embarking on an adventure for sure.  There is no guidebook, there are no assurances.  Our bills still must be paid, and life still delivers its cruel realities with bits of happiness sprinkled throughout.  But God has called us to something and our hearts know it well.  His voice is unmistakeable.  He confirms it time and time again.  It’s been about a year since this leg of the journey began and looking back I just can’t help but fall to my knees in amazement and wonder at the goodness and mysterious nature of his ways.  We are not special.  We are not better.  Our lives are not easy!  We love God more than life itself.  We have been called to a life of leading people to Jesus and to do anything else feels utterly impossible. 

You see, today I witnessed a small miracle.  Again, to explain the details with words would undermine the work that God did in my heart.  So I will leave you with this:  God is real.  He created you.  He loves you.  He wants to know you intimately.  He is not surprised by your pain.  And He is not defined by your past experiences of “church” or “faith”…He is beyond all of that.   He wants a relationship with you and the thought of a life without him terrifies me to my core.  His peace is beyond understanding.  His provision takes my breath away…

If you’re missing this…let’s have coffee.  

“But if I say I’ll never mention the Lord or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire.  It’s like a fire in my bones!  I am worn out trying to hold it in!  I can’t do it!” Jeremiah 20:9

Until the next time :-), C

Saturday, May 10, 2014

on motherhood...

“As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth.  And His disciples asked Him, Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?  Jesus answered , It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him…” (John 9:1-3)

I read this today and it blessed my heart.  It just reminded me of the privilege that it is to be a mother to my children…especially Micah because I get to witness God’s power through them.  

I became a mother in 2009 and it was the scariest, weirdest, most beautiful and difficult time of my life!  Yeah…that’s what motherhood does to you…it makes you crazy.  I try to remind my kids of that daily.  Motherhood has brought out the best and worst in me.  I never knew anger until I had children.  I never knew love…the kind that you feel deep down in the pit of your stomach…that aching kind of love where you know that a part of you would die forever if anything bad happened to your child.  Motherhood has taught me about patience, endurance, selflessness and I know God more intimately because I am a mother.  

The other day my family went out for pizza.  There was a lady sitting behind us who was eating alone and working on a laptop.  We had a good time…my kids are doing better in restaurants and I am doing better and planning ahead.  However, we are still a handful…we are loud and crazy…there is always at least 3 or 4 injuries accompanied by loud screaming and cries of what sounds like death.  But there are also giggles and crazy ramblings about potties and stickers, princesses and Thomas the Train.  As we were getting ready to leave, the woman that was sitting behind us approached me.  I got pretty nervous and was ready for a lecture about how I was a bad parent.  Instead she said that she travels all the time and she’s never seen a family who treated their children with such love and respect.  She said that it was a joy to watch us together.  I think she may have just been an angel from Heaven.  I’ve NEVER been complimented on my kids in public…not to mention a restaurant.  (Except for how adorable they are…duh!)  I was incredibly humbled…tears came to my eyes…and I felt incredibly honored.  

The thing that I’ve learned most from being a mom is what a pleasure it is to have children.  They bring immense joy to me…and I love being a part of their world.  We are weird…my carpet is gross…we talk about potties and we kiss a LOT!  We laugh a lot and scream a lot.  But, I’ve never known such joy.  I am a completely different person because God allowed me to have children.  They are a treasure and I hope they grow to know and understand that.  I wouldn’t trade any of the “problems” or difficulties that we’ve been through (not even the labor and deliveries)…it was all worth it…to be able to look into their eyes and try to understand who they are and what they’re feeling…it’s just priceless.  

Thank you God for making me a mother.  

Until the next time :-), 

Friday, May 2, 2014

It's all fun and games until your kid pees on their floor

Parenting little kids makes me crazy in ways that I never knew it would.  It is so fun…and monotonous.  It’s 10:30pm and I’ve just put my second load of laundry in the washer, deboned a chicken, and now I need to go find that man that I love and make sure we still recognize each other after such a crazy day.  The big things in my kids lives right now are eating “cocorn” and watching Gerbert at bedtime.  So after that…I put my my kids down, do Micah’s massage, and then pray with them.  I find myself reviewing our day and apologizing for all the ways that I screwed them up and try to come up with ways to do better tomorrow.  They look at me like…”Mom, I have no idea what you’re talking about…can you leave now so that I can sneak some toys into my bed?”  

I find myself apologizing more to them these days.  Don’t get me wrong…I know that I’m a good mom.  But, man do I screw up.  Yesterday I punished Hannah for being disrespectful.  She’s 3.  That girl has the biggest teenage girl attitude already!  I have NO idea where she gets it from!  ;)  I punished her because she’s been making this obnoxious grunting sound when I tell her to do something.  She also has been saying FiiiiiiiiiiiNE!  and Moooooooooooom!  She’s a smart girl…and she doesn’t miss a thing.  She can sing a song after hearing it once and she’s already becoming pretty emotionally healthy…”Micah stop!  You’re making me angry!”  (Insert “My mom is a counselor” brain damage here…)

I was talking with a friend tonight about parenting…and how this world is just too confusing.  (And then my kid peed on her floor).  When we were kids, we watched shows like Looney Tunes where dads hit their kids over the head with baseball bats for asking dumb questions at dinner, they also shoot their kids in the head with a pistol…yes it’s true.  Shows have words like “stupid” and “freakin” and OH MY GOODNESS WHAT IS THIS WORLD COMING TO?!?!?!?!?  I worry about what their brains are absorbing with Elmo talking about how the earth is a billion years old and My Little Pony casting spells on people…  The feminists are bashing men and telling our little girls that boys are dumb and worthless and that they don’t want anything to do with them.  Then I look at my sweet, sensitive little boy who just wants to be a helper and love his mom and sister with all of his heart…Then there’s the story in the news where hundreds of girls were abducted in Africa from their school and sold as brides to terrorists…and a chill runs down my spine.  

In a world of crazy…what in the heck do we do?!  According to Blues Clues…I should STOP, BREATHE, and THINK.  :)  Good advice.  According to God, I am being conformed to the image of Jesus…I trust him, I ask for wisdom, discernment, and protection.  I remember that God loves my kids more than me…that he has entrusted them to me for a reason…and that he is always doing something new.  I’m excited for this adventure.  

and oh yeah…I’m the one that grunts when I’m frustrated…so I’m the one that taught my daughter to be disrespectful to me!  Try explaining that to a 3 year old.  

These are the things that go through my head during the days while I’m running around like a crazy headless chicken.  

Now it’s 7am and my kids are wide awake asking to watch Coo Coo’s (Blue’s Clues).  I’M UP and darn it…I’m drinking my coffee from my fancy china mug this morning.  

Until the next time :-), C

Monday, April 14, 2014

Drawing Near

I just came away from a weekend with The Lord and I think a part of me is grieving.  I thirst for the uninterrupted time in His presence with others that are experiencing Him too.  It is calm, it is relaxing, it is absolutely beautiful.  It's amazing how loud his voice is when the world is quiet.  Practicing the discipline of silence and solitude is something that our culture runs from.  We can't tolerate the stillness...we feel like we need to "do" in order to have a meaningful life.  I started practicing these disciplines about a year ago and it was amazing to see how easy it was to turn off the world this weekend.  It was a difficult thing in the beginning for this extremely extroverted girl.  But I have the dearest friend who prayed and guided me as I began.  I highly encourage you to check out Hopewood Retreat Ministries ( and challenge yourself to give God the time and space to speak to you.  These retreats are doctrinally sound, they are open to men and women of any age, they are semi guided but you are free to do whatever you need to in order to hear from The Lord.  Dan and I would love to share more about what we've learned from our retreats and why we think they are essential for every believer.  I'm already looking forward to the next women's retreat in August and the next coed retreat in October.  Won't you join me?

Until the next time :-), C

Friday, January 24, 2014


I have a confession to make.  Before my son Micah was diagnosed, I felt different about children/families with special needs.  When the parents descried how their child has changed them and taught them so much...I kinda just dismissed it as just a desperate attempt to find a silver lining.  I was TERRIFIED of having a child with special needs.  I had at least one anxiety attack while I was pregnant over the thought.  I just didn't want to struggle...I didn't want to watch my child struggle...I didn't want to be shut out from a part of my child.

Then God gave me Micah.  And let me just say that my terror was experienced in a few different ways.  We all struggled quite a bit before we knew something was wrong.  There were days (I hate to admit) when all he could do was take take take from my already depleted self and I would question whether or not I should've become a mom...that all of this was a mistake.  I would get so frustrated with moms who talked about wanting to adopt a child with special needs...why would anyone ask for this?!  I didn't ask for it..surely.  And of course there was the lingering question...what does it say about me that they would want a child with special needs and I don't?  Do they think it is easy?  Is something wrong with me? hurts to actually put that out there.

You've probably heard me say that this past year has been the toughest of our lives so far.  My husband has also written a little about it here.  Over the past few months, our family was given some time away from our normal life.  We've used that time to be together, to process pain, to commune with friends, and most of all to know God better.  We needed healing.  I needed healing.  So, I embarked on this time expecting God to come through just as he always has.  You see, knowing God and becoming like Jesus doesn't take away tragedy, conflict, depression or any other kind of pain.  In some ways the pain can feel worse at times.  No, knowing and experiencing God gives us a place to go when you're in the pit.  Yes, he was there while I was sinking.  I know it...I felt him...he sustained me.  I knew that he was allowing each blow so that he could press deeper into me and do something new.  If he hadn't been there, I know I would've fallen even lower.  Then he gently called me out of each situation...and he said..."know yourself so that you can know me".  (This is something beautiful that comes from a counseling relationship with another believer).  As I processed each situation and the bigger picture, I continued to see glimpses of his plan.  In the process he asked me to humble myself and do some difficult things.  But, he was there...he's here.

I feel like I've come to a clearing...a place of refreshment after the long, tangled, and bumpy journey out of the pit.  It doesn't mean that there won't be another one up ahead, but I'm being made new...constantly.  And right now I am experiencing that newness again.  I have joy, I have love.  I feel healed in those deep dark places.  Bits of pain surface, but I'm definitely in a different place than I was.

So lets bring this back around to Micah and my terror.  In my healing, God has changed my heart of fear and expectation...of trying to make my son into something that he wasn't designed to be.  He called me to confess my judgement of others and forgive myself for the ways in which I feel like I fail my son (and daughter) on a daily basis.  He's helping me to see that my capacity for pain increases my capacity for growth.  When we take our pain to the Lord with humility and truly seek to understand Him in our situations, he increases our capacity for wisdom, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness etc.  That fruit has never tasted quite so good.

When I see Micah, my heart almost bursts.  He has changed me...and taught me things that I would not have learned without him.  I am overjoyed to be his mom.  Even during the tantrums...I just see him differently.  I love him more than I ever have.  I am so incredibly thankful for him and I cannot wait to see him develop his own relationship with God.  I'm okay with his needs and while I don't want him to suffer, I can't wait to see how his understanding and search for God will increase his own fruit.  His four year old little self is already so compassionate and caring.  Perhaps those tantrums just show how much he really does care about things.  Thank you God for the treasure that I have in Micah and Hannah.  Help me to steward them well.  

 Until the next time :-), C