Ephesians Bible Study

I wrote this 8-week study on the book of Ephesians for the women at my church, 
and I'd love to share it with you.  

You can download the cover and the study, and then you can upload it to Staples if you'd like to get it printed as a hardcopy (I think it's around $10 to get it printed and bound!)

May the Lord use His Word for his glory and our good. 


one of my favorite photos of Grace, about 5 years ago.


I want to word this post carefully,
because what we believe about the character of God is always, always,
t r u e.

When I was laying in the hospital,
wide awake at 2 in the morning,
watching my sweet girl try to sleep in between nurses-checks,
God was Sovereign.
And good.
and faithful.

When I was discussing the possibility of a feeding tube with a GI nurse,
God was Sovereign.
and good.
and faithful.

When my panic was at an all-time high,
wondering if life as we knew it was about to change forever,
God was Sovereign.
and good.
and faithful.

Our circumstances never ever ever change who God is.
We firmly believe this.
I've been re-affirming it to my own heart over and over and over amidst the confusion and anxiety of the last 6 weeks, as I watched my daughter seemingly deteriorate before my eyes.

What 8-year-old says they can't swallow anything without pain?

We would have clung to the character of God no matter the outcome for Grace,
and we would have, God help us, believed that the character of God was good,
even if the news had been what we feared.

in God's relenting mercy shown towards our family,
and towards our sweet Grace...

...and in God's mysterious way of hearing and answering 
so many prayers 
on our behalf....

....the biopsy results were negative for the worst case scenario we feared so much.

Grace has "just" GERD esophagitis.

A condition that is treatable, healable, manageable.

Our 8-year-old will very soon be able to eat whatever she wants.
Which, currently,
is fettuccini alfredo
and macarons. 

(expensive taste, I think :))

We marvel at the mercy God has shown us.
We praise Him for hearing and answering so many prayers for Grace.
and we pray that we would have had the faith that even in the worst case scenario,
we would have praised Him still. 

Friends, thank you for praying so fervently.
Thank you for texting, emailing, messaging...
...we have sensed the body of Christ around us.

As I have prayed for our sweet 8-year-old's heart,
I have prayed that even she would have seeds of faith planted at such a tender age,
and through all of her tears of
"why can't I eat? I'm starving and I cannot eat"
over the last 6 weeks,
she would realize the ever-present help of an Almighty God.
Grace knows that so many people have been praying,
and she knows that God has answered.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.


And, if you've never heard of esophagitis,
neither had we.
It leads to Grace's exact symptoms:
problems and pain swallowing,
feeling like food is "stuck",
chest pain. reflux.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made,
and "he knows our frame, and remembers that we are dust"
Psalm 103


Today wasn't as good as yesterday, but we ended the day happily (after a major freaking out and sobbing that a french fry hurt her throat)
 We ended with our sweet 8-year-old eating almost an entire uncrustable 
(she said it was super soft!), 
plus a yogurt tube. 

{When we end the day with tears that she's hungry and can't eat, 
my heart shatters and my panic level skyrockets}.

 She also ate an entire McDonald's cheeseburger at lunch time (CRAZY!),
 and drank like 20 ounces of slushee, so all-in-all, pretty good. 

 I mean, when you list it out like that, that's fairly normal amounts for an 8-year-old.

She said over-and-over her throat wasn't as good as yesterday,
 and I told her over-and-over that people are praying and praying and praying.  
That encourages her heart as well as my own.

Thank you.

We simply wait on all the test results.

We wait, 
and we plead with the Lord for Him to show mercy.

And I plead with the Lord for him to help my heart to handle it,
if even the worst is true.

Words from Spurgeon are speaking to my heart tonight:

"Let the morrow be what it may, our God is the God of tomorrow. 
Whatever events may have happened, which to us are unknown, 
our Jehovah is God of the unknown as well as of the known. 
We are determined to trust the LORD, come what may.  
If the very worst should happen, our od is still the greatest and the best.  
Therefore we will not fear...The Lord liveth, and what can His children fear?"

Truly, what is there to fear?  Let the morrow be what it may.

Thank you for praying with us and for us.  We wait.

Answers to Prayer

At 9 o'clock this morning, I was on the phone with the GI nurse, 
discussing the possibility of a feeding tube for Grace. 

There was a distinct danger that she was not going to be able to sustain the amount of liquid she needed to simply survive. 

Nine hours later, 
I told Matt that I think we are seeing prayers answered before our very eyes.

Grace drank over 25 ounces of liquid today.
PLUS Ate 3 popsicles.
5 pancakes.
half a  chocolate chip cookie.
and a normal-8-year-old-sized serving of mashed potatoes.

Right before bed Grace said,"My throat feels a little better".

{holy moly, right??}

Biting back tears, I tell her that so many people are praying for her,
and God is making her better.

She smiles, and says,"I'm a little closer to fettuccine alfredo, mom".

which is like her favorite food in the world, 
which over the last 6 weeks she's repeatedly said no to, 
and repeatedly told me to not even talk about until her throat is better.

We're still praying, and we feel your prayers.
We will get all the test results back this week. 
Whatever is going on, today was a good day, and we'll take it, and rejoice in it.

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.  James 5

Thank you

The words fail me to adequately express my gratitude, comfort, and encouragement 
that your replies, comments, texts, and emails over the last few days 
have given to me - and our family.  

But I'll say it anyway - thank you.


Brothers and Sisters, 
Please keep praying.
It's working. 
They're really, really, really working.

Grace has started some medicine, that is theoretically too soon to be working...
...however, she's eaten more today than she has in days


she's drinking.  
Like actual liquid.

without much complaint.

She drank most of a  6 ounce juice box earlier today.  

six ounces!!!!!! 

(although at the end she said it was "bad for her throat" and "hurt her chest")

and just now she poured herself some orange pop, and drank a couple ounces.

(did you read that - she GOT herself a drink! 
and, yes, at the moment, all rules on appropriate food and drink are gone.  
She thinks she can swallow orange pop, she can try!)

We should hear esophageal biopsy results by the end of the week.  
We're holding out for a plan forward (read: hopefully treatment) until then.  

my momma's heart is desperate to see my sweet 8-year-old eat and drink normally.  
She just told me she dislikes going to school because she sees all the yummy food the other kids are eating and she wants to eat it.
and I cried a little bit more inside.

But, my momma's heart is also encouraged to see her 
running around and playing cheerfully today,
helping give the puppy a bath,
terrorize the puppy with bows after said bath,
and even eat a decent amount of pancakes.

Pray with us for complete healing of whatever Grace is dealing with,
and pray with us for the strength and grace to wait and trust in the meantime.

And pray this sweet little girl's heart will lean into Jesus all the more,
lean into the God that never sleeps nor slumbers,
who's ever-present with us even though we feel the earth give way.

and, at the moment, the earth feels like it's giving way.
but we will.not.fear, for He is With us.

and that is enough for today.amen.

Prayer Request for Grace

Sharing about Grace so more people can pray.

For those of you who may not know:

About 5 weeks ago, Grace was completely fine in the morning -
ate breakfast, got dressed, normal third-grader-stuff.

Five hours later, she wasn't feeling well.  
She had a fever, felt like she couldn't swallow that well, and chest pain.

We thought it was viral. 
Or actually, didn't think that much of it
Kids get sick, right?

Well, kids do get sick,
but Grace really hasn't gotten better.

For five weeks she hasn't been able to swallow and complains of chest pain.
Over the past 5 weeks we've gone from soft foods
breads, bananas
to smoothies and shakes
to thinner smoothies and thinner shakes
to liquid 
to basically only ice-cream and popsicles
because they melt. 

She says stuff is "bad" for her throat and that her throat feels swollen and tight, 
and it hurts to swallow.
obviously, we've gone through the ringer of childhood illness testing - 
she doesn't have strep, mono, or anything like that.


A few nights ago she was trying to take a bite of mac-and-cheese
which I was just shocked she was willing to try!
And she started shaking.
Thinking she was cold, I asked if she wanted a blanket.
She said
no, I'm just worried it'll hurt.

and then I went to the bathroom and cried and cried.  
My poor Gracie-girl.  Afraid to eat.

As her symptoms progressed, our testing progressed.
We got a pediatric GI appointment scheduled,
and were holding out hope, just stringing along until that appointment.  

But Grace began to eat less and less, drink less and less...and then refusing all food and drink...
...when the GI doctor, who couldn't give us any medical advice over the phone because we weren't technically a patient yet, just sent us to the ER (in order to get a GI consult through the ER).

So, 2 days ago, I took my 8-year-old to the ER of the great children's hospital near us.

When the GI docs heard what was going on, 3 of them showed up in our ER room.

The ER doctor was blowing us off,
but the GI doctors were outstanding.
super encouraging, super comforting, 
saying that they symptoms I was describing they hear all the time.

and then they admitted us.

After a just a night in the hospital,
we got some testing done.

And are now home, waiting biopsy and other test results.
She also has this cool wireless probe on her esophagus,
measuring acid, sending data to this monitor.

She thinks it's pretty magical, which it basically is.  
When she gets too far from the monitor it'll beep, and you have to hold it up to the middle of her chest to reconnect it.
She's basically ironman for a few days. ;-)


Would you pray for Grace?
Please pray that the diagnosis is simple and easily treatable.

(The GI doc thinks there are two likely diagnosis -
one is simple, the other not-so-much -
not-so-much as in chronic, life-long, and complex)

Poor Grace is hungry...SO hungry...but whatever is going on with her is making it painful to eat.

She's lost weight, and I'm counting bathroom trips 
to make sure she's getting enough popsicles in her to count.

Today, she ate 6 popsicles,
 a couple bites of mac and cheese and a couple bites of a cinnamon roll.

That's it.  
and that's actually kind of a lot to what she was eating a few days ago.

And then before bed she was crying she was starving but saying she couldn't eat anything.

I pray with her, reassure her the doctors are helping, get her tucked in,
then leave her room and cry.

Our sweet girl. 
 Something is wrong,
so very wrong.

She's hungry but whatever is going on in her esophagus is causing her 
to not be able to eat.


Please pray with us that the Author and Giver of Life
will HEAL Grace.
Fully and Completely.

Pray with us that the Author and Giver of Life will bring much peace, much comfort,
for my mama's heart, for Gracie's heart...for our family.

Pray that our family can establish a sense of normal.  
In January, while these symptoms were escalating with Grace,
 Matt also had the flu that totally wiped him out for a few weeks, so it just seems like it's been a long time when we had any "normal" family life.

Pray that the Lord will comfort Gracie's heart.
Pray the Lord provides scriptures that encourage all of us.
Pray that the Lord will provide food ideas she can eat.
Pray that in the midst of all of this she'll feel well enough to do normal 8-year-old-stuff.
Pray that the testing results are diagnostic but it's an easily managed diagnosis.

We are not strangers to health crises.
The Lord has provided in the past and will provide again.
I know it, fully know it.

Pray my heart knows it now.

We are trusting that when we get on the other side of this we can update on the million ways the Lord showed His Provision and Providence through this all...much of which comes through the prayers of our family and friends.


Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, "Here I am".
Isaiah 58:9


life with multiple sclerosis

five years ago tonight,
i sat at my floral-tablecloth-covered kitchen table.

my father-in-law was at my sink doing dishes.
I told him I should really get up and help.
he told me to keep sitting.

i kept sitting.
the MRI paperwork in front of me stared back,
haunting me with its results.  

the world seemed to go on around me as I watched.
shock.  I think it's called shock.


{five years and two days ago}

i stood in my 5-year-old's room, finding clothes for him to wear to church.
dear friends were picking the kids up;
my leg wasn't working well enough to attend.

I hobbled around downstairs with a make-shift cane,
wondering what in the world was happening.

friends came.
they prayed with me in our entryway.

although we didn't know what was wrong,
I think our hearts sensed the severity.


{five years ago this afternoon}

i sat in the doctor's office,
a dear doctor I had come to know and love through various pregnancy difficulties.

I fully expected to hear about some minor blood clotting issue.

she came in the room.
she skipped any of the usual pleasantries.

your MRI report came back,
she began.

and then it would be the first time we would hear the words we never expected to hear.

multiple sclerosis.

for months after  those words
I would jolt in the middle of the night,
instantly awake.

my first thought would be 
it was just a dream.

and then I would realize it wasn't a dream.
the weakness and tingling were an all-too-vivid reminder of reality.

and yet,
the deeper the pain,
the deeper our reality of faith becomes.

the beloved apostle paul said to the church in philippi that what had happened to him - imprisonment! - had really only served to advance the gospel.

and my heart beats a similiar prayer.  
Whatever happens to me, may it only serve to advance the gospel.

five years from now,
whatever happens to me....
more symptoms or not....
if I can use my left hand or not...
if vision gets worse or not....
if spascity gets worse or not....

{may it only serve to advance the gospel}.

I am humbled to bear such a disease. 
may I walk worthy of this disease called multiple sclerosis,
walk worthy of the calling to which He has called.

whatever happens to me,
may it only serve to advance the gospel.


 when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, 
one of my worst anxieties revolved around the possibility of losing the ability to walk.

now, i realize that would only be a blip;
 a blip in this life that is only as a vapor of air.

for even if I don't walk in this life,

i look forward to running on streets of gold someday.
streets of gold, with my Savior, with a resurrected and glorified body.

and oh, hallelujah what a day that will be.

multiple sclerosis are no longer scary words to me.
the Lord is the author and creator of life;
he is Surely the Sustainer of life, too. 

 the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, 
Blessed be the name of the Lord.


Motherhood and the Search for Significance

Soaking up the new warmth of the early summer sun, I sit outside on our patio, drinking a coke, which feels like a luxury to my normally-healthy-eating-self.  the relief for school being out is pallpable. I watch, contentedly, as my 7 and 9 year-olds hurl themselves down the new slip-and-slide, sliding and sailing on the wet plastic, laughing the whole way.

and as I watch, I can almost see the sands of time slipping away.  It's not going to be that much longer that my elementary-aged-children are satisfied with some simple water toys in our backyard, and the thought of them getting older is almost more than my heart can bare.  

a flash-back to my 3-year-old Grace

I am grateful for the ages that they are currently, for so many reasons, and am thankful for the tiny bit of perspective that having slightly older children can bring.  The days of toddlers and babies and kids that will never, ever, ever sleep through the night seem endless.  Those days are oh-so-good, but oh-so hard.  A dear friend of mine, smack in the middle of those oh-so-hard days, recently told me that she KNOWS these are the days that she will miss, but pondered aloud how to enjoy them more in the moment.

As I've been in the throws of this glorious journey called {motherhood} for almost the last decade, and have discussed the HARD of motherhood with so many friends, so many times, I have begun to think that all of the HARD of this journey is, in large part, due to the fact that it all seems so insignificant. The diapers, the midnight feedings, the tantruming-toddlers, the feeding of breakfast, snacks, lunch, snacks, dinner, and more snacks...it all seems to go on cyclically...and we wonder what on earth we are doing with our days.   

Is it significant at all? 
Are we accomplishing anything? 
Are we making any kind of difference in the mundane? 

and the answer is an overwhelming, resounding YES.

It IS significant.  There's a litany of reasons, that you and I could both list off.  

However, straight out of the book of Ephesians, we're given the greatest reason of all.

This journey of motherhood is significant, because God Himself has granted us significance in CHRIST before the creation of the world.  Significance is not found in what we do or don't do, it's found in who we are in Christ. Ephesians 1 tells us that he Predestined us - if you're a believer in Christ, it means that you were "marked out beforehand" to be adopted as a daughter in Christ - and that's the most significance you could ever long for.  

In the cosmic-changing game of Red Rover, the God of the Universe called your name and put you on His team forever.  You have been chosen, you have been called, You have been granted significance in Christ.

The next middle-of-the-night awakening, where you have reached your physical limit of exhaustion, preach truth to your heart: you have been chosen by Him, and He sees you now.

In the middle of a battle of wills with a four-year-old that leaves you close to tears, preach truth to your heart: you have been chosen by Him, and He sees you now. 

On the days that nothing goes right and laundry piles, dishes loom, and everyone is crying, preach truth to your heart: you have been chosen by Him, and He sees you now.


Our hearts change when we change our thinking (Romans 12:1), so as we let truth from His Word permeate our thoughts, our day-to-day  will gradually shift.  When you feel like it's all insignificant, all mundane, remind your heart that you have been granted a place in the Divine Family Tree, and the God of all has chosen YOU. He sees, He knows. Motherhood is the furthest from insignificant, even when it feels like it is.  Stop telling yourself it doesn't matter, and serve your family, as a daughter of the King of Kings, knowing He has granted you all the significance you could ever want, before you were even born.

"...even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world..."
Ephesians 1


14 years later

14 years ago tonight,
I was spending my last evening as a single woman in the periwinkle-painted walls of my childhood room, and I was feverishly packing for our honeymoon.

because, in the commotion and stress and busyness of student teaching, wedding planning, and moving apartments, I had forgotten to actually pack for the 2-week road-trip we were going to take for our honeymoon.

that last evening is burned upon my heart...trying to decide which button-down shirt would look better with the khaki shorts I wanted to wear as we drove...sorting make-up between the stuff I wanted for our wedding day and the stuff I wanted for our honeymoon...a midnight conversation with my dearest friend, as we reflected on life together.

I awoke early the next morning
 - earlier than I should have for the length of day that would commence! - 
and with a full heart, I realized that that was the day I had long been awaiting.


and now, 14 years later,
I smile at my young-bride-self.
so full of love, and innocence, and a bit of fresh naivety on the life that would become. 

the life that would become brought a lot of hard...
and yet in that hard would come a  depth of faith, a depth of character, and depth of love for each other that I didn't know could exist.  

in that hard would come a depth of understanding of how marriage mirrors the Trinity, how it mirrors the covenantal love our Savior has for HIS bride, and I am humbled to my core to attempt to reflect that love well.  There is no other man on earth I'd rather spend the rest of my life with, and I love Matt from the deepest part of my heart.

14 years ago,
my oh-so-young self said "I DO",
for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.

and today?

I still do.

oh, how I still do.

Happy Anniversary, Matt!


Thoughts on Holiness

A few weeks ago, we hosted a casual-but-niceish lunch for some friends and family.  We love hosting, and I spent a few days doing what you always do before people come over: cleaning. Toys were put away, bathroom wiped down, dining room table set with my prettiest spring dishes and centerpieces.

The downstairs looked great.

Then, during the lunch, a friend of mine needed to see our {normally very picked up} bedroom. 
And I inwardly cringed {although happy to let her use what she needed to}.

There was a load of clean laundry tossed on the floor, my usually-made-bed had the covers askew, a few random coffee mugs on my night stand, my make-up from that morning scattered on the vanity. It was completely the opposite of guest-ready, and I cringed with embarrassment!


Throughout this entire year of reading through the Bible, the Holy Spirit has been impressing upon my heart over and over again the need to be holy; the need to be careful with how I live; the need to strive after holiness, to carefully follow all of the commandments.

And after my friend saw our bedroom and I inwardly cringed, promising to clean it up and show her the "real" version, my heart realized:

Are there any areas of my life that are like that hidden bedroom?

you know, the downstairs of my life looks pretty good:
we're almost always at church, I do my best to study my Bible daily, I attempt to memorize scripture and practice other patterns of spiritual growth and have the downstairs areas {the outward, very visible areas} of my life pretty picked up.

But what if a friend wanted to see that master bedroom area of my life? 
or, even worse, that random guest room closet that stuff gets tossed in?

How embarrassed would I be if a friend saw *those* areas?
The hidden habits like a way-too-critical spirit? the times I lose my patience with my kids? the service opportunities that became duty to me instead of delight?

What about those areas? How holy are they?

In 2 Samuel chapter 5, there's a small little area of David's life that he neglected, that perhaps the scrolls of scriptures had been pushed aside for a little too long.

David has a great goal - he wants to move the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem. However, he chooses to ignore the very specific, very Divinely-given directions on how to move that ark and decides to forego having the Levites - the priestly tribe - carry it. He decides to ignore that closet in his life, and believe that it will all be okay.

And yet because of his sin, because of his hidden closet, his friend Uzzah dies. David's friend paid the steepest consequence one could pay for David's personal sin.

I think we tend to think that we are able to keep some areas of our lives pretty hidden. The procrastrination-turned-laziness, the envy of a friend's life, the pride in even our church service, the tv show we should've turned off a little bit sooner, the edge of unkindness in a response to a spouse...

...but those hidden areas always come out, 
and heaven forbid they have the same consequences as David's did for Uzzah.

Is there an area of your life right now that you'd be embarrassed about if someone knew? The Holy Spirit has been gently showing my heart the need to clean out those bedrooms and even the closets, and to truly strive for and work towards holiness.  And yet, even in the weight of this truth, the conviction that will come, there's so much Divine forgiveness and cleansing and healing and power found in that cleaning-out process, thanks be to God.

David's story ends on a high note. Several months later David decides to truly bring the ark back to Jerusalem. And this time?  No hidden closets are lurking.  David says, "we did not seek him according to the rule...no one but the Levites may carry the ark of God." {I Chronicles 15} And with triumphant victory, the presence of the Lord  - manifested through the ark of the covenant - is restored to Jerusalem.

I want the story of my life, too, to end on a high note. The next time a friend needs to see my master bedroom, here's hoping it'll be wiped clean, wiped clean by the progressive sanctification only found through the work of the Spirit.

I hope your master bedroom, your hidden closets, will be wiped clean, too.


Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart...

Four Years Ago, Today

I'm thankful for multiple sclerosis.

those words made me pause, mid Windex-wiping the patio doors.

my heart skipped a beat.

really? that thought had surprised myself.

grateful for multiple sclerosis?

And yet, yes.

an oh-so-grateful,

grateful for multiple sclerosis.


we crossed the line of demarcation in our lives four years ago today.

my life is forever marked as 

from four years ago?
the memories are vivid:
the MRI machine seemingly cold, sterile;
 taunting me with the possibilities.
hearing the words:{indicative of multiple sclerosis}
from my doctor's mouth.
my immediate shock,
the whirlwind of neurological testing,
the panic-ridden months that would ensue. 

the friends that would call, write, text. mail coffee gift cards, drop off food. send flowers.
that would talk to me late into the night, as I was awaiting test results.

the memories are vivid:
awakening in the night,
instantly alert.
 my first thought was always 
{it wasn't a dream. it wasn't just a dream}
and then the anxiety would follow,
over and over,
the same instant-awake-panic.

it wasn't just a dream.

the other memories are vivid as well:

very, very early mornings with my hard-cover, vintage-floral Bible open before me,
the mug of coffee steaming as I poured over the pages,
 searching for answers...searching for help, searching for hope.

the memories are vivid:
those gilded-pages coming to life before my eyes,
bringing spiritual life in my heart,
calming my fears,
giving me so much hope and so much strength and so much faith
in a God, a Redeemer, a Savior,
so much bigger than any of my fears.


four years later?

I stand in awe at the Sovereign Hand of God in my life.

humbled that He would allow me to walk a road such as MS,

compelled to want to walk that road well.

I am thankful for multiple sclerosis.
it opened my eyes to see 
the bigness, the greatness, the sovereignty, the providence, the faithfulness, the compassion
of our God,
in a way that I never would have seen without a degenerative neurological diagnosis.

I am thankful for multiple sclerosis.

it allows me to fear less for the future,
knowing the One who holds it.

I am thankful for multiple sclerosis,
for the Lord used it in my life to draw me to Himself.

and that is always a gift.
don't get me wrong.
there are days that I wish my fingers would work completely,
or other symptoms would go away forever.
but the symptoms always remind me of the God I serve,
that His grace is always sufficient, 
and that nothing has gotten to my life without first going through the filter of God's Sovereignty.
and that gives so much comfort, and so much confidence.
multiple sclerosis was the road the Lord thought would be the BEST option for my life.
how can I argue with that?
the Lord has prepared good works in advance for me to do.
may I do them well,
especially in walking the road of MS.
To God be the Glory,
great things He hath done.
great things, even in neurological diseases.
great things He hath done,
...they loved not their lives, even unto death...
revelation 12:11