Looking at 2018 in the rearview mirror

Screen Shot 2019-01-01 at 11.37.53 PMEvery year, I carve out an hour, a bit of quiet and look at the last year. Some years it’s a great coffee shop. Some years, it’s at home with suitcases unpacked and kids popping up 3 times each. Tonight was the latter. Worthwhile (maybe all the more?) because of it all.

If you’ve not had opportunity to pause and remember before launching ahead, and it sounds appealing, I thought I’d share some questions I’ve used in recent years.

Don’t feel like you even have to choose to answer all the questions. Maybe pick 5 or so, and see what God might stir in you with those.

1. What activities made you lose track of time?
2. For what do you deserve a pat on the back?
3. Which areas did you thrive in the wheel of life?
4. Which areas did you struggle in the wheel of life?
5. If someone wrote a book about your life this past year, what kind of genre would it be? A comedy, love story, drama or something else?
6. Where and how did God work in your life this past year?
7. If you had to describe your 2018 in 3 words, what would they be?
8. What was your most common mental state this year (e.g. excited, curious, stressed)?
9. What were the 3 books that had the greatest influence on you this past year?
10. What was your favorite place that you visited in 2018?
11. What was your single biggest time waster this past year?
12. What was the best way you used your time this past year?
13. For what, or whom, are you most thankful this year?
14. What advice would you give your early-2018 self if you could?
15. What one thing would you do differently and why?
16. What did you think about more than anything else?
17. About what topics did you most enjoy learning?
18. How did your overall outlook on life evolve this year?
19. What was your favorite compliment that you received this year?
20. What was the most important lesson you learned in 2018?

How to walk with hurting friends :: join me for an online book club?


For months, I’ve been thinking about this idea of “just showing up.”

Actually, it must have been for years, because I asked a friend to bring this book with her when she was coming to visit us in Australia a few months after our first miscarriage.

That title encompassed what we’d experienced as many friends on two sides of the world chose to walk alongside us, our hearts grasping at breath after the loss of our baby.

My life was marked. Our family’s lives were marked. I can only imagine hard much harder our road would have been without them just showing up.

The book quietly testified to that truth from shelf by title alone until just a few weeks ago. The spine of the book unbroken until a sweet young friend of mine found herself a new member of the sorority none of us wants to be in — the women who’ve miscarried.

That’s when I went hunting for the book in a box yet unpacked. I opened it, asking God to help me know how to love my friend well.

Even after weathering the loss of two babies (another one, Gabriel, last December), I felt a wave of amnesia as to what had ministered to my heart so much. Help me know how to love her, Lord? How can I help?

Do you ever wonder the same when you hear of a hurting friend?

There can be barriers, can’t there? I don’t want to say the wrong thing. Or, I am a horrible cook. Or, I’m actually scared of medical things. Or, It’s too close to home. Or, My own wound is still so raw.

Those are valid concerns. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t be held back. But I’d like to offer that we were made in God’s image. And He’s always been in community with Himself, the godhead, as the Father, Son and Spirit. We were crafted from our very start for community. No wonder we long for that at our deepest level.

What would it look like to move toward others, empowered by the One who made us, knowing that we need to receive and we need to give? We need each other.

Here’s the synopsis of the book:

Kara Tippetts’s story was not a story of disease, although she lost her battle with terminal cancer. It was not a story of saying goodbye, although she was intentional in her time with her husband and four children. Kara’s story was one of seeing God in the hard and in the good. It was one of finding grace in the everyday. And it was one of knowing “God with us” through fierce and beautiful friendship.

In Just Show Up, Kara and her close friend, Jill Lynn Buteyn, write about what friendship looks like in the midst of changing life seasons, loads of laundry, and even cancer. Whether you are eager to be present to someone going through a difficult time or simply want inspiration for pursuing friends in a new way, this eloquent and practical book explores the gift of silence, the art of receiving, and what it means to just show up.

The author, Kara Tippetts, writes this in the introduction of the book. I absolutely love this.

Showing up for another says, “I see you. Your pain is known, and though I cannot make it better, I’m here and that’s what matters…

Friends. Community. It is the only way to know and be known. It’s where we see our own humanity and frailty, our gifts and our weaknesses. When we show up for one another, we invade each other in love and become witnesses to the truth that trials and sickness and pain are not the whole story. There’s more, so much more. We can remind one another that our lives are not a mistake. And, most importantly, that we are loved with an everlasting love.”

Maybe you’ve had a taste of a community of friends that seem to match Kara’s words. Or, perhaps, you haven’t but that picture stirs you to think that something like that could exist.

Join me in a very loosely organized online book club starting today.

  1. Buy the book (ebook, or audio) from Amazon or another bookstore, or borrow from the library. (Hoopla is my new favorite way to borrow audio books and listen from my phone or ipad.)
  2. Read the introduction and chapter 1 this week. (A quick and easy read yet so much to chew on, both on a practical-level and heart level.)
  3. Next Tuesday I’ll write a post asking for your thoughts. This is what I’m really looking forward to!

Until then, I’d love you to leave a comment on the blog with one practical way that someone has “shown up” for you, big or small, that really helped when you were going through a hard time.





White Space


For the last ten or so years, I have taken some time to stop and reflect on the previous months.

Below are a conglomeration of some of my favorite questions. This year, Scott and I decided to share them with you, praying that they’d stir you and encourage you to live deeply from the well of God’s grace.

They’re not questions prompting you to make new resolutions or asking you to pledge to try harder to change.

Relieved? (Me, too.)

Rather, they are invitations to stop.

When I was in college studying advertising, I learned about the crucial element of white space. The purpose behind the empty space surrounding text is to help the reader’s eye find a place to “rest.”

However, we’re often like ads runs amuck, our text spilling out to the very edges of the paper.

No wonder that kind of printing is called “full bleed.”

Would you consider building in 20-30 minutes of white space sometime in the next 7 days?

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Annual Questions

What 3 books from last year affected me the most?

In what current relationship(s) do I feel like the best version of myself?

What characteristic/attribute of God became more real to me this year?

What activities caused me to lose track of time (good or bad)?

What was one big highlight this last year?

What was one hardship?

Do I have daily white space built into my daily life?

Two beginnings and an ending, all in 1 week

As I sat in my car after the event and started recounting the evening to Scott, my voice began to sputter into the phone. As we continued to talk, my voice continued to crackle.

And then I realized, for the first time, that God allowed me to speak the 20ish minutes at the mic with voice that hadn’t broken up.

Until now, after it was all over. Holy cow. Thank you, friends who prayed.

To look at my bloodshot-and-extra-wrinkled-and-tired eyes, you’d think I had a newborn at home, not that I have pink eye in both eyes and had been (up until the night before the event) averaging 4-5 hours of sleep a night with coughing attacks.

Did I mention that pink eye=no makeup? Can I be honest and confess how that has made me feel naked this week (yes, going on a week) but a bit more on a night like this speaking. More opportunities to have identity in Christ, right?

A new friend and kindred spirit, Cathie, invited me to speak at her church’s Christmas craft evening. God used Cathie as she spoke at a conference I attended a few months ago to stir my heart and mind to the idea of making space to actually listen to God more often.

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After 2 hours of mingling, eating and serious crafting (even non-crafty me got into making this beautiful Christmas tree out of twigs and wire), I got the mic at 9pm. And God gave me the voice!

Most of the women were believers already but, in that sized group (150+) there were likely non-Christians, too. I loved the opportunity to point us all to Jesus at the beginning of the Christmas season. (With no Thanksgiving here to usher in the Christmas season, it seems to start earlier here.)

I spoke on how abiding in Christ (John 15) could make the difference in how we experience this Christmastime. I had so much more to share that God had been teaching me than the 15-20 minutes allotted, but my American-accent/speaking-quickly self got in as many words as I could. Haha!

Pray with me especially for the women who heard about a personal relationship with Jesus last night who have yet to make a choice to respond? May their hearts be good soil for that life-changing message of grace!

So, the Christmas season started…and Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) ended. I felt like a kid on the last day of a great school year. So very sad! What a rich year of studying the life of Moses and the first 5 books of the Bible.

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LOVED my small group and leader, Jayni.

I’m not sure if I’m more grateful for my own time studying the Word with these women or the fact that my kids both got to study the same lessons (!) as I did, contextualized for their age. I’m so grateful for Mrs. Pat (left) and Mrs. Ai Lin (right). What love and grace and truth you’ve invested in my children!

One more new start–Joshua will begin kinder (pre-school) in February when school starts here.  This week he went to the free-play time for them to get a chance to meet teachers and get comfortable with the idea. I love how Aussies do school here with such a focus on play. Makes me want to be a kid all over again.

I’m struck how much he’s not a little toddler anymore! Who is this big boy ready for school?

Two more cute pictures, speaking of play. (Left) Lizzy’s beloved baby, Joy, gets a non safety-first ride to show-and-tell at BSF on the last day. (Right) I came out of the shower to see this picnic already underway in my room. Everyone was lined up and feasting on things ranging from yogurt to grapes to…Legos.


how are you wired?

Yes, it's
Yes, it’s “bundle-up-it’s-May” Melbourne. Fall is here, leaves are falling and I’m loving a bus ride and subsequent brisk walk to the office.

It’s been a great day in the office, working on recruitment. Most of today was spent emailing our ministry leaders and other natural recruiter-type folks to ask what resources they use when they invite someone to consider joining with us. A big proponent of not reinventing the wheel, I’m excited to gather and refine the best of what I can find, and then help to find ways to make them more accessible to our missionaries. The connector in me has loved today!

And since I love connecting people to people and people to resources, I thought I’d post a some resources I just assembled to hand out during our big recruiting event on Sat, May 30th. (We have 16 people coming, as of today and we’re thrilled, not knowing the response since we’ve never done anything like this 6-hour event. We’re praying for at least 4 more to come, for a total of 20.)

Part of the event will be providing some “white space” for people to have time and resources to consider how God’s created them. I’d highly encourage you to check at least one out, or tell someone you know who could benefit.

Feel free to leave a comment with any assessments or books you’ve found really helpful!

Strengths assessment: Gallup Strength-Finder

  • Cost: $10
  • Details: The online assessment helps you discover your top 5 strengths (combination of skills, talents and knowledge) so you can learn and capitalize on how God’s “wired” you. Gallup research proves that people succeed when they focus on what they do best. 

Personality assessment: Keirsey Temperament Sorter

  • Cost: Free
  • Details: A 70-question online assessment that’s takes 10-30 minutes to take and results are immediate.

Whole-person assessment: SHAPE

  • Cost: $6.50 for e-book by Erik Rees (Kindle version but you don’t have to have a Kindle to read as you can download onto your phone or computer.)
  • Details: E-book with assessment questions in the back. SHAPE encompasses 5 aspects of your life (see below). This guidebook is based on the purpose of ministry outlined in The Purpose Driven Life by Pastor Rick Warren.
  1. Spiritual Gifts: A set of special abilities that God has given you to share His love and serve others.
  2. Heart: The special passions God has given you so that you can glorify Him on earth.
  3. Abilities: The set of talents God gave you when you were born, which He also wants you to use to make an impact for him.
  4. Personality: The special way God wired you to navigate life and fulfill your unique Kingdom Purpose.
  5. Experiences: Those parts of your past, both positive and painful, which God intends to use in great ways.