What Grief Can't Do


We feel it when we lose someone we love, when we're betrayed by someone we trust, or when life is turned upside down by circumstances out of our own control.

Grief hurts.

Grief changes us.

There's many other things grief can do.


Grief can overwhelms us, making it difficult to complete the simplest of tasks.


Grief can consume us, causing every thought to somehow wander back to our pain, our sadness, our feelings of injustice.


Grief can anger us, providing a sense of entitlement to our fits of rage and our feelings of bitterness.


Grief can depress us, making us feel so down and out that even leaving the house becomes a huge chore.


Grief can frighten us, stirring irrational fears and unhealthy anxieties.


Grief can stalk us so that we feel as if we can never escape its presence.


There are a lot of things grief can do to us.


But, there's one thing grief can NEVER, EVER, EVER do -


Grief can never stop us from waking up and facing the next dawn.


We may find it incredibly painful and difficult to put our feet on the floor and believe we have a reason for pressing on,

but grief can NEVER stop us from trying to live in spite of our heartache.


What's the secret to facing dawn even when your heart is broken?


Here it is:


Get up anyway.


Yes, that's the secret.

Nothing fancy.

Nothing complicated.

And definitely nothing magic.


When life is hard, you have one choice to make every single morning.

You can either face the day or hide from it.


Grief may scare you, overwhelm you, anger you, depress you, or consume you,

but it cannot STOP you.



Get up scared.

Get up angry.

Get up sad.

Get up consumed.

Get up overwhelmed.




And every time you choose to face a new dawn,

you will find yourself one day closer to the One who longs to carry all of your pain.


Get up,

Look up,

Cry out,

Reach out,


Know that God smiles when, even though your heart is broken, He looks downs and sees you FACING DAWN.

My prayer is that when you find yourself struggling to face another dawn, you will choose to turn to God for your strength.

Facing Dawn book cover (2)


Click HERE to order your copy of Facing Dawn:  A Morning Devotional for the Brokenhearted,

a journey through my early grief after losing Nick and a place to share your heart as you journey through your own.

Half of the proceeds from this book will be used by the Nicholas Yancy Nischan Foundation to help the lost and hurting find peace and purpose in their pain.


Thank you for praying for our family today as we faced the dawn of the five-year anniversary of Nick's death.

We faced it,


We embraced it.


God was with us every step of the way.

He's with  you too!

Embracing Today
It's Thanksgiving Day 2013.
I'm sitting on the floor in my childhood bedroom and lots of memories are dancing in my mind.  
I rearranged this room probably 100 times as I grew up. 
I loved turning on music, cleaning every corner of this room,
moving my bed and dressers to new places, and then surprising my
 mom with the new "look."

I've done thousands of sit-ups on this floor. 
My sister and I use to agree to do a certain amount before going to bed.  
Years later, we've both confessed to doing more than we said we would. 
Sibling rivalry even included exercise.

After I moved away, my brother moved into this room so it changed from pink to blue.
I can still imagine the flowery wall-paper that covered one wall and my Holly Hobbie comforter.
There was safety in the walls of this room.

Now this room is my mom's sewing room. 
Nothing in this room is mine other than the furniture we passed through the family and the suitcases on the floor.
Olivia, almost 16, is asleep in my old bed.  
She's quickly going to be all grown up and reflecting on her own childhood just as I now reflect on mine. 
What memories will she carry with her?
I hope they're good. 
I hope she one day sits on her bedroom floor and has good memories of giggling friends and late-night silliness. 

I'm thankful today for a home that prepared for me for anything but an easy life. 
I'm thankful for the foundation my childhood gave me for facing painful losses and many scary and uncertain days. 

I'm thankful I was taught to turn to God for strength and hope in a world that often feels much less safe than this bedroom. 

Today, while full of opportunities to be thankful for and reflect on the past, 
is also an opportunity to create new memories with those we love.

I am determined to do just that today even as my heart is filled up with many things that could make today sad and difficult.  

I'm thankful for my childhood bedroom floor. 
I'm thankful for times to just sit and reflect on how faithful God has been for so many years. 

But I'm also thankful for a new day and new chapter and new opportunity to share His love with those I love so much.  

God was with me as I grew up. 
And He's with me today. 

For that I am most thankful. 

He's with you today too!

Have a happy Thanksgiving day as you reflect on the past - both good and bad - and as you spend the day sharing His love with those around you.  

God bless your day!

A Pre-Thanksgiving Confession

One of our cars broke down half an hour from home last night.

Tim has to venture there today to figure out what's wrong.


My hair color dripped onto one of my most favorite t-shirts.

(I knew I should have changed before starting this monthly project!)


A toilet overflowed upstairs at our house this morning......




I'm in a kind-of cranky mood!


There's something about confessing everything that's on my mind that frees me up to face the ugly parts of "real life,"

so I decided that before I tried to move on with all of the day-before-Thanksgiving "setbacks" in our home, I would take a minute to get my ugly out.


So here it is.


And I feel better.


You might be having a fabulous day!
I hope so!!


But if your day is a little less than great,

just know you're not alone!!



Praying your Thanksgiving is full of special memories,

cars that work,

hair color that doesn't drip,

and toilets that flush properly!


I love you all so much!!!

If Life Were a Stage

Holding their scripts, the row of second graders prepared for their reader's theater performance.

One girl, unable to contain her excitement, periodically hopped in place as she grinned ear to ear.


After a short discussion about using strong speaking volume and an expressive voice as they read their lines, I asked the students,

"What else can you do as you read your lines in order to keep the audience interested in the story?"


Several students raised their hands and offered ideas.

"We can make different faces."

"We can use our hands when we read."

"We can look at each other."


And then the smallest boy in the line,

the boy with the softest voice,

raised his hand.

"We could sing our lines," he said.


I smiled and replied,

"Why, yes you could!"


As the play began, this particular little boy had been assigned the role of "Narrator One" and, sure enough,

he sang every single line throughout the entire play.


Without missing a beat, he carried the story along with perfect pitch and a calm singing voice, captivating all who were listening.

At the end of the play, we cheered for all the actors with a big round of applause as they bowed and grinned.


As I reflect on the fun day I had last week with a class full of second graders,

I am drawn to the memory of this small boy.


As I sit here this morning thinking about God as our "audience,"

I wonder what draws Him into our life stories?


If life were a stage,

what would He long for in our performances?


I have to think that a voice of praise would please Him most in a world filled with violence, anger, fear, and so many other troubling emotions.


Today, as you journey from one place to the next,

try captivating God's attention by lifting your voice to Him.


Carry your story along, no matter how difficult life may become, with a voice of praise.


He's watching, and His applause is the only applause we really need.


Psalms 147:1

Praise the LORD! For it is good to

sing praises to our God; For it is

pleasant and praise is becoming.

What If Today Is the Day?

Monday mornings can seem anything but exciting.

Weekend events often leave us feeling a little tired,

and sometimes the thought of another week of same old
"same old" just isn't enough to kick us into high gear.




What if today is the day that something is going to happen that will change everything about tomorrow?

What if today is the day that you are going to say just the right thing to someone who needs a little encouragement and somehow God is going to use a tired you to enliven a weary someone else?

What if today is the day that God is going to place you in just the right situation at just the right time to be the difference, the answer, the sign someone is pleading for in prayer?


I wonder how Philip felt when an angel appeared to him and told him to go south to a desert road.

Surely he wondered what in the world God could possibly have in mind as he began his journey to a barren stretch of land.


I love that when Philip heard the command, he immediately started out on the journey.

He didn't question the angel.

He didn't complain.

He didn't hesitate.


Acts 8 simply says,

"So he started out..."


I have to think that Philip was praying as he journeyed toward this desert road.

I have to think that he was watching all along the way for a sign.

I have to think that he was praying for God to show him why in the world he was journeying toward a desert road.


And I especially love that before he even arrived at his destination,

God used Philip to change someone's life forever.


The whole story is in Acts 8:26-35.

In the story, it says that as Philip was "on his way," he came upon an Ethiopian eunuch who was reading the book of Isaiah.


Philip  was told by the Spirit to "Go near the chariot and stay near it."

As Philip approached the chariot, he simply asked the eunuch if he understood what he was reading.


This opened the door for a powerful conversation in which Philip was able to share about Jesus.


Eventually, Philip and the eunuch passed by some water,

and the eunuch asked Philip to baptize him.


Philip is then taken away miraculously to an entirely different location.

God had used Philip "on his way" to the desert road rather than waiting until he arrived there.


The story ends with these words about the eunuch,

"he went on his way rejoicing."


Today, as we venture into another Monday,

what if God has plans to use us "on our way" from one place to the next?

What if He plans for our encounter with someone to end with them going "on their way rejoicing?"


Maybe it's a bus ride to work or walk down a hall from one office to the next or a phone call with a friend or relative or an encounter with a student or co-worker that will be the "on our way" moment or our day.


If every one of us determines that today is the day we will be open to God's leading as we are "on our way" from one place to the next,

can we even imagine how this world could be transformed?


Today IS the day.


We are all "on our way" somewhere.


As we journey through today, let's ask God to open our eyes and ears to the world around us so that we can share His love with a world that needs Him desperately.


Let's all determine that today IS the day that we, like Philip, will send someone "on their way rejoicing" because we have allowed God to use us "on our way."

Our Home and My Christmas Prayer

Tim and I decided to have a technology-free evening,

order dinner out,

turn on Christmas music,

and dive into our attic in search of Christmas treasures.

Five hours later,

we sat down.

We still have wreaths to hang outside and ornaments to add to trees,

but I wanted to share a little holiday spirit and love from our home to yours as the season seems to be quickly upon us.

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Praying this prayer today.


Lord, You are the reason for every twinkling light throughout our home.

Your love is what fills us with Christmas peace even when many things in our lives don't seem so peaceful.

The undeserving gift of Your Son is what compels us to give generously to others throughout the holiday season.

Father, our Nativity sets only hint at the wonder of the first Christmas night.

Help us feel the wonder of that most Holy night in a very real way every day of our lives.

Help us enter the next month of life with a new and heightened sense of Your presence.

Help us let go of the worldly tendency to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and stress of holiday shopping;

and instead, help us create more special memories with people we love.

Help us fill our calendar with events that allow us to share Your love rather than events that cause us to feel distracted from the true meaning of the holiday season.

Father, this morning I see faces of so many that I love so deeply.

I even imagine people reading this prayer in other countries who I may never meet until Heaven,

and I ask you, Lord, to bless them all today.

Cover them in Your grace and mercy.

You are the One true and living God.

We are thankful for the chance to live for you every single day.

Comfort those who are hurting.

Calm those who are stressed.

Bring peace to those in the middle of chaos.

Bringing heal to those who are sick.

Help us all to accept the journeys You have placed us on even when the path seems rough, uncertain, and scary.

You promise to go before us on unfamiliar roads.

You promise to make rough places smooth.

As we sit near the twinkling lights of our Christmas trees,

may we constantly be aware of how near You are to each of us.

You are the reason we join in this holiday season.

You are the source of our Christmas joy.

Thank you for sending us Your Son,

the Prince of Peace,

our Savior.

In His Precious Name I Pray this Prayer,


When You Need a Lift

I love that God cares about us in such a personal way that when He hears us cry out to Him,

He turns toward us and listens.

I love that when we admit we are stuck or weak or frail,

He reaches out and lifts us up to a "firm place."

I love that when we are in a rut and we will feel trapped,

He can step in and put a new song in our mouth - freeing us to praise Him.

I don't know what your day holds,

but I do know that He who holds you has this day covered in His love and mercy.

I don't know how messy life is for you,

but I do know that no mud, no mire, no mess is too big for God.

Don't try to do today alone.

Cry out to Him.

And patiently wait.

He will hear you.

He will listen.

And He will lift you up to a firm place.

A place where you can confidently face anything this world throws your way.

Trust Him today with everything that is on your heart.

He loves you and He cares.

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.

Psalm 40:1-3

Pulling Christmas Out

I use to start playing Christmas music in early October.

Decorating the house for the holiday season by Evan's birthday (which is today) was a definite accomplishment.

I loved having the house, inside and out, filled with lights and the Christmas spirit in time for his birthday party every year.

Nick's last holiday season we went over the top with outside lights and inside trees in early November.

I wanted Nick to enjoy every single ounce of holiday spirit he could.


Time has passed though.

Nick isn't here to get excited about Christmas with us.

All my other "little ones" have grown into teens and twenty-somethings,

and I find myself talking about when I will "pull all the Christmas decorations out."


There's something about the word "pull" that sounds like work,

and I don't want to feel this way.


I love the Christmas season.


I love sitting in a dark room with only the lights of the Christmas tree blinking near me.


I love long evenings with Christmas movies that make me laugh or cry or both.


Today, I'm letting go of the word "pull" and looking for a new word.


I want to dive into the Christmas decorations.


I want to go head first into my attic and hunt for treasures to sprinkle throughout my house.


I want to embrace the season because it truly is the only reason I can face my daily life with Hope and Joy.


I carry Christmas with me all year long because Jesus is more than the reason for the season.

He is the reason for my life, my joy, my smile.


So, I'm officially DONE with the phrase "pulling Christmas out."


Today, on Evan's 24th birthday, I am celebrating not only the gift of his precious life but also a transformed way of facing the holidays.


Be watching for Christmas photos of the Nischan house.

I'll be diving into the attic soon!


If there's a part of your life that seems hard right now,

challenge yourself to replace the hard words with new, energized, purposeful words and face your situation with a new mindset.

No matter what you're facing today,

whether it's something as routine as decorating for the holidays or something as painful as dealing with grief,

you have the power to face it with strength, courage, hope, joy, and determination.


But "what you think" has to change before "how you act" will change.


Proverbs 23:7a

For as he thinks in his

heart, so is he.

(Amplified Bible)


Praying for you today.

Praying you can transform your heart, your mind, and your thoughts,

so that you can live victoriously knowing you do not face today alone.

Thomas Needed More Evidence and That Was Okay

For some reason, I love the story of Thomas.

I love that one of Jesus' original disciples,

a man who had walked with Him, ate meals with Him, heard Him teach, and watched Him perform miracles

couldn't jump on board with all the excitement of the other disciples who excitedly proclaimed,

"We have seen Jesus!!"


I love that He needed more evidence.

I love that he was honest enough to say this out loud to his closest friends,


"unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were,

and put my  hand into His side, I will not believe it." (John 20:25)

But the part of the story I love most is this:

Jesus appeared to Thomas and allowed him to not only see the nail marks but also touch them.


Jesus provided Thomas with just what he needed in order for him to exclaim,

"My Lord and My God!"


Jesus went on to say,

"Because you have seen me, you believe.  Blessed are those who have not seen me and yet have believed."

Do you ever feel like Thomas?

Do you ever think, "I need more evidence."


Don't be afraid to tell God how you feel.


While our belief today has to be based on faith, I do believe God is willing to provide just what you need in order for you to have a personal encounter with Him.


Ask God to make Himself known to you today through nature, through people, through events.

I love to pray that prayer every single day.


I love to ask God to open my eyes to His Presence all around me.


Ask Him to show up in your life today.


Like Thomas, you will find yourself exclaiming,

"My Lord and My God!"

as you journey through life with Him instead of searching for Him.


Praying your day is filled with personal encounters with Him who loves you most!

The Most Important Question

Stumbling over toys and blankets, I made my way to the ringing phone on our kitchen wall.

"A job opportunity, and they thought of me?" my mind filled with a sense of significance it had not felt in a long time.

Someone thought I was capable of doing something that extended beyond changing diapers.

For whatever reason,

I needed that phone call on that particular day.


As I hung up the phone, I looked down at my t-shirt and sweat pants, a normal "uniform" for my "career,"

and I wondered if God was calling me out of my day-in-and-day-out sea of laundry, tears, and Fisher Price entertainment.


I sat for a minute and considered the option.

I had been a reliable babysitter to several friends over the years.

Surely God would provide a reliable one for me.


This was a big decision, though, and I knew I needed wise counsel.

Tim was in the middle of a busy day at work,

so I knew his advice would have to wait until evening.

So I thought of my friends and pondered who I should call.


As different friends came and went from my mind,

I could almost hear each of their answers before throwing out my question.

To work or not to work outside of the home?


I settled on a friend who I knew would speak more than what she personally thought was right for me.

I settled on a friend who I knew would challenge me to think deeply.

Then I called and poured out my heart.


After I was done talking,

she didn't offer advice.

She didn't say,

"Well, this is what I think you should do."


She asked one question.


She said,

"What are you looking at right this minute?"


As I looked in front of me, I saw Evan in his high chair,

baby food encircling his mouth which was forming the cutest grin.


I told her what I saw,

and she asked me one more question,


"Do you want someone else taking your place with this view?"


I looked again and Evan's big eyes met mine.

It was as if he knew what I had been asked,

and in that moment my sweat pants and t-shirt became designer clothes and my lot in life became my profession.


I was called to be home, and it was okay.


Finances weren't always easy as our kids grew up.

Many weekends our excitement was going to KMart to buy a new puzzle with some of my babysitting money and then working it as a family.

Looking back, I wouldn't trade those memories for the world.



As I reflect on that specific  memory,

I realize how important it is to turn to the right people when looking for advice.


Pilate was faced with a life-altering situation when Jesus was brought before him by the Jewish leaders.

These Jewish leaders hated Jesus, and they wanted Pilate to hate Him too.


Pilate found no fault in Jesus,

but he turned to an angry crowd with his dilemma and asked,

"What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?"


The answer wasn't pretty.


"Crucify Him!" they shouted over and over again.


Because Pilate turned in the direction of this crowd,

Jesus' fate was set in stone.


I wonder if he looked back on that day and wished he would have turned to a different audience with his question.


In life, we are often faced with tough decisions.


Who we turn to for advice makes all the difference in the world.


Whether you work outside the home or stay at home,

you can be an awesome parent.


But there's one question that will matter for eternity.

It's the same question Pilate asked over 2,000 years ago,

"What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?"

Turn the right direction for your answer.

It will change everything about your life.

Why God Needs Nothing to Make Something

Some days the words won't come.

I sit and stare at a blank screen.

I wonder why I feel the need to type anything at all.

I think about what I read this particular morning in the Bible and wonder whether or not any of it changed me or caused me to look at life differently.


But my mind won't focus,

because it's filled with all the things I need to do,

all the things I should have done last night

that I will now  have to squeeze into tomorrow.


Because yesterday I came home exhausted and I curled up on the couch and that was it.

I didn't run pick up a birthday card for my dad.

I didn't pick up the used coat from one friend to mail to another out-of-town friend who needs one.

I didn't get to the post office like I wanted.

I didn't clean my bathrooms or run the sweeper.

And the list goes on and on and on.


Now it's Friday and I should be thankful, but my mind is filled with my own self-inflicted long to-do list,

and I'm struggling to center my mind on today.


Because today I still have to work.

I still have to enter schools and smile and meet with teachers and talk to students and plan with principals and be 100% engaged with the tasks in front of me

even though my heart and mind are filled with so many other things.

Can anyone else relate?

Does anyone else feel conflicted between real-world and work-world thoughts?


I think the disciples and Jesus were full of conflicting thoughts in those last days before the Crucifixion.

Jesus had to feel intense pressure to be all He could be to the disciples while carrying the burden of what was to come.

How did He encourage others while trying to keep Himself from becoming discouraged?


Jesus understood more than anyone else how much He needed strength from above to make it through this life.

He slipped away often just to pour His heart out to God.

He was the Son of God with all the rights and privileges His relationship surely gave Him, and yet He needed God's help desperately, constantly, passionately.


Who do I think I am to try and map out today or tomorrow on my own?

Why do I think I have to rely on my own strength when truly I've never been able to rely on my own strength in the past?

Why do I try to come up with words when really my lack of words is what God always waits for so that He can have the floor?


I didn't start blogging to share my own words.

And every time I sit down and think I need to have something to say,

I quickly discover that nothing is all I have and all I am without Him.


That's where Jesus found Himself on the last days.

And that's where the disciples found themselves as Jesus' body was placed in a tomb.

Fully aware of their nothingness without God and without the Hope of Heaven.


When we grasp the power of nothing,

we begin to feel something stir inside of ourselves that is powerful and full of potential.


God created this world out of nothing.

Why in the world would we ever think we can be anything at all or say anything at all without starting at that very same place of emptiness?


Today, I'm acknowledging my nothingness

and trusting God to step in and be all I can't be.


He needs my "nothing" to create "something."

And He needs your "nothing" too.


Give Him all of you today.

Empty yourself.

Let Him start with nothing and see what happens.


Determined to be nothing today so God can be something.


Philippians 2:5-8

"Have this mind among yourselves,

which is yours in Christ Jesus, who,

though he was in the form of God,

did not count equality with God a

thing to be grasped,

but emptied himself, taking the form

of a servant, being born in the

likeness of men.

And being found in human form he

humbled himself and became

obedient unto death,

even death on a cross."

Why Serving Others Matters

Jesus knew that the Father had put

all things under his power,

and that he had come from God and

was returning to God;  

so he got up from the meal, took off

his outer clothing,

and wrapped a towel around his


After that, he poured water into a

basin and began to wash his disciples'


drying them with the towel that was

wrapped around him.

John 13:3-5


I love this moment in Jesus' life.

After hundreds of miracles and countless opportunities to be elevated to a place of great earthly power,

Jesus chooses to spend the last "free" night of His life on this planet in a quiet room with His closest friends.

Instead of reflecting on all He has done or why He is on the earth or even what will be happening in the next few days,

He lowers Himself to the ground and washes the feet of fishermen and tax collectors.

Jesus doesn't need to prove Himself.

Deep inside He knows all He needs to know about who He is.


He knows He is the Son of God.

He knows God has placed all things under His power.

He knows He came from God.

And He knows He will be returning to God.


Because He knows all of these things are true,

He demands service from everyone around Him and looks down on mankind.




Because He knows all of these things are true,

He takes off His outer garment, wraps a towel around His waist, pours water into a basin, and washes the disciples' feet.


In that moment, Jesus knew what we all need to know.

Serving others matters.


If you know who and Whose you are today,

you will find yourself free to serve others.


You will find it easier to help a co-worker,

lend a hand to a family member,

or even be kind to a stranger.


There's power in knowing that you don't need power.

There's strength in knowing that alone you are weak.

There's confidence in knowing that who you are has nothing to do with what or where you are in life.


If you find yourself in the company of someone who needs power in order to feel significant,

pray for them because they are trying to make it in this world on their own strength and abilities.


If you find yourself struggling to have the confidence you need to make it through today,

remember your true source of strength can't be found in you alone.


Jesus washed the disciples' feet because He knew His power was from God.


For even the Son of Man did not

come to be served, but to serve..

Mark 10:45


When you grasp the power God offers,

you'll find yourself trying less and less to impress and more and more to serve.


He gives strength to the weary and

increases the power of the weak.

Isaiah 40:29


His divine power has given us

everything we need for a godly life


through our knowledge of him who

called us by his own glory and


II Peter 1:3

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit,

but in humility count others more

significant than yourselves.

Let each of you look not only to his

own interests, but also to the

interests of others.

Have this mind among yourselves,

which is yours in Christ Jesus. (ESV)

Phil 2:3-5

Praying you find your strength in Him today and because of that confident knowledge you take the opportunity to serve those around you.


Serving others shows the world the power only Jesus offers.


And that's why serving others matters.

What Teachers (and the rest of us) Can't Carry But God Can.........

As I was waking up this morning and rolling over in bed,

I kept hearing the words,

"What Self-Control Is Not"

in my mind.

I was reflecting on the fact that last night I went to Zumba for the first time in forever and had a great workout and a great time........

and then came home, took a bath, and snuggled on the couch with Tim and Olivia who were watching the UK game.......

and ate four chocolate chip cookies!

Yes, four!


I woke up feeling rather yucky, and thought to myself

"Self-control is not going to Zumba and then eating four chocolate chip cookies."


I sort-of thought my blog may end up being on this very topic, but I never really know where God will lead me after my quiet time with Him.

I should have known my own direction wasn't very spiritual, because God always has other plans.


This morning my Bible reading was about Jesus' last day with his disciples.

I read about the disciples getting everything ready for the Passover meal.

At the time, this was a very big deal.

Having a place for the meal and all the supplies was critical.

I can only imagine the behind-the-scenes stress of having everything "just right."

As I read, I wondered what they would have done differently on that particular day if they could have wrapped their minds around the fact that just a day Jesus would be arrested.


Spit upon.



I'm just thinking that knowing all of that may have been a little more than any of them could have carried on their own.

God knew their limit.

He knew that carrying the weight of the Passover meal was enough for those who loved Jesus most.

So, He carried their tomorrow.

And He carried them through the nightmare of watching their Savior die and thinking all was lost.

He carried them through the three days of wondering if they had been wrong in giving up everything to follow someone who called Himself the Son of God.

He carried Peter through his own denial of knowing Jesus.

He carried them all when there was no way they could carry themselves.


If God did that for the disciples, why do we struggle today with burdens not meant for our arms to hold?

Why do we insist upon carrying more than humanly possible?


This morning one of my dear friends, Stacy, had this picture posted on Facebook with the following words,

"The contents of my pocket this evening: two quarters, one brown crayon and a peppermint candy.

Wondering if there is a story that would go along with all of it.

Please comment and share any story that might come to your mind about what I found in my pocket."

pocket change

So, Stacy, after seeing your Facebook photo and reading your Facebook request,

here are my thoughts:


When I looked at your picture, I smiled.

First, I smiled because I could visualize you digging this all out of your kindergarten-teacher pocket.

Second, I smiled because you laid everything out in the shape of face. 

Too cute!

Third, I smiled because everything in your pocket matters.



Here's why it matters:

Because what you were carrying in your pocket says so much about you as a person!!!


I love that you were carrying "change" in your pocket.

Stacy, you change lives every day.

I love that you were carrying a "mint" in your pocket.

Stacy, you were "mint" to be a teacher.

I love that you had a "coloring tool" in your pocket.

Stacy, you "color" this world everyday with your love and your smile.


But even more than all of that, I love the fact that when you emptied out your pocket, you longed to know what it all could possibly mean.


I love that you wanted to know why  you were carrying what you were carrying.


I think it would be powerful for each of us to ask that question every single day.


Why are we carrying what we are carrying?


What do the contents of our "pockets" say about us?


I think when we empty everything out and take a good look,

we start to get a clear picture of where our priorities are,

what matters most to us,

who we really are,


why we feel burdened or free.


I'm pretty sure the disciples didn't have pockets,

but if they could have emptied out everything they carried,

I wondered what they would have found.

I'm just thinking God knew they had a limit to what they could carry,

and that's why He carried their tomorrow.


Teachers carry a lot of responsibility.

Teachers carry a lot of little faces in their pockets.

They carry the desire to change their students, the longing to mean something to every child in their room, the passion  to color the world into something better and brighter.


But they can't carry everything.


And neither can we.


Today, empty your pockets.

Ask yourself what the contents of your pocket say about you.

Decide what really matters.

Put back ONLY what matters and what you can carry on your own.


Thank God for carrying the rest.


I'm thankful God doesn't allow us to carry our tomorrows.

I'm thankful that He chooses to carry "the next thing" for each of us, because I am certain I could not handle it on my own.


I'm thankful God is willing to carry everything I can't.


I'm thankful the disciples carried the responsibilities of the Passover meal while God carried the coming death and resurrection of His Son.

I'm thankful Stacy emptied her pockets lost night and shared everything she found.


I'm emptying my pockets today and letting God carry everything I can't.


(Even my lack of self-control.

Hopefully next time I go to Zumba,

I'll come home and have a nice glass of water instead.)

What Would You Trade for Today?

"I'll give you $5 for that," I casually say to the lady at the flea market stand.

"I' can't let it go for any less than six," she confidently replies.

"It's a deal!" I say, trying to stay calm; because deep inside I know I was willing to give ten.


Don't we always start our bantering a little low in hopes of a great deal?


If you could make a deal with God, what would you trade for today?


A day at the beach?

A visit with someone you love and miss?


The reality is this:



Many times we trade today for a day of stress,

a day of "I'm here" moments,

a day of "getting through" or "going through the motions" or "surviving what we as "living martyrs" like to think of as the worst day ever."


What if you really knew today was your last?


We've all heard the quote,


"Live today like there's no tomorrow,"


but, seriously, who really thinks there won't be a tomorrow?


Very few of us honestly go to bed thinking,

"It's been a great life.  I can't believe it's already over."


No, we often go to bed exhausted, dreading something about the next day or nervous about the next "big thing" at work or worried about this or that with our kids or thinking "I'm going to be a better person tomorrow or try harder tomorrow or do more tomorrow or start exercising tomorrow or eat less tomorrow."


Tomorrow has a way of holding out an unreachable carrot that keeps us groping forward with a sense of "almost there," stealing joy from our todays.

I read a quote this morning on Pinterest that struck a chord in my home-loving heart.

Maybe it hit me in such a profound way because the first thing I did this morning was look outside to see if it had really snowed like our forecasters had predicted.

Hoping for at least an hour delay, I did see a thin, white blanket draped across our backyard;

but the puddles of cold rain on the road in front of our house reflected the street lights and gave no hope of a little more time at home this morning.


And I was disappointed.


As I made my coffee and began my normal little morning routine,

I realized that today would more than likely be a normal day.

Stressful if I allowed it to be.


I read in the Bible this morning about some of Jesus' last days on earth.

His passion for trying to get the crowds to understand that His time was running short was evident in every parable.




No one knows when the "last day" will be......


For us personally,


for those we love,


for this world as a whole.


And then I opened my computer, I read this quote:

inspirational quote about spending a day


So, if "today" were for sale at a flea market,

what would you offer in exchange for it?


Don't offer too little.


Today is priceless.


It's all we've got until tomorrow.

The Kind of Giving Jesus Notices

He placed his offering in the plate.

A large gift.

Enough to fix many problems in the church building.

Enough to help several ministries.

He was proud of his ability to be such a key player in the congregation.

"How could they survive without me?"  he thought to himself.

But his heart was cold and indifferent.

And Jesus looked away.


She snuck her small token of love under the large stack of bills,

hoping no one would notice her seemingly insignificant gift.

Pocket change to many.

The world to her.

Not enough to even replace a door knob.

Not enough to feed a missionary one small meal.

"I wish I had more to give," she whispered under her breath.

Her heart was filled with humility and thanksgiving as she gave the last of her money to the One who had brought Hope to her hard, cruel world.

And Jesus smiled at her offering.


Do you want Jesus to notice you?

Do you want Him to smile when you give of yourself, your talents, and your heart?


Here's the irony of the story.


The lady above wasn't thinking about being noticed.

She was thinking about Jesus.


We live in a world where moving up the ladder often means impressing someone or knowing more than someone else.

In Jesus' eyes the opposite is true.


He doesn't need your money or your skill.

He longs for your love.


He doesn't need to be impressed by you.

He longs to be cherished by you.


If you want Jesus to notice you,

stop trying to get His attention.


Just love Him.

Adore Him.

Praise Him.

Give out of love because of everything He has done for you.


Jesus doesn't need your money.

He needs your heart.

When you feel like you've given all you can give and

you find yourself empty and broken,

smile and give of yourself anyway.



As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.

He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.

"Truly I tell you," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others.

 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."

Luke 21:1-4

When a Typhoon Hits Your World

I didn't expect to see a headline this morning about a brutal typhoon hitting the Philippines while I slept.


As I clicked through the photographs and read the stories,

I was reminded once again of how hard life can be and how mankind is truly the same all over this planet.


No matter where you live-

No matter what you're going through today-

When a typhoon hits your world, you find yourself holding on to that which is most dear just as this lady clings to her small child.





In a story in the Associate Press by OLIVER TEVES and TERESA CEROJANO, the governor of the Philippines was quoted as saying,

"When you're faced with such a scenario, you can only pray, and pray and pray."


Today, there are people all over this world who are hurting, struggling, and trying to make sense of their pain.


Today, there are people clinging to what matters most and praying for answers.


Keep these people in your prayers and take a minute to ask yourself a few questions:


What are you clinging to today?  Is is really what matters most?

Where do you turn when a typhoon hits your world?


I love you all so much.


Praying I get it right today.

And praying you do too.


Lifting up the typhoon victims to Him who loves them most.


The Secret to Being Strong

Have you ever wondered how some people do it?


I remember sitting in a Women of Faith Conference in 1993 a year after losing Adrienne and listening to Barbara Johnson speak.

She was vibrant.





I fell in love with her that day partly because of her funny stories,

but mostly because I read her bio and in it I learned that she had lost two sons.


As I sat there, broken and grieving, I remember vividly saying to myself,

"If Barbara Johnson can be so strong after losing two sons, surely I will survive the loss of my daughter."


The summer after Nick passed away, I was at a very low place in my grief.

I felt defeated, confused, angry, and overwhelmed with sadness.


And I remembered Barbara Johnson.


I decided to find her online, because I needed to talk to someone who not only understood my pain but also had survived something similar.


I Googled her name and these words popped up on my screen,

Barbara Johnson Foundation.


As I clicked on the button to go to the link,

I felt a sickness inside of me as the word "foundation" carried with it the possibility I feared.


When I reached the site, I discovered with great sadness that Barbara had passed away.

My shock intensified when I realized that she had died of a brain tumor, the very thing that had taken Nick's life.

Just as quickly as I felt sadness, I felt a sort-of happiness for Barbara because I knew she was now with her two sons.

Almost as quickly I smiled at the thought of Barbara meeting Nick and Adrienne.


And a peace came over me that I had not felt in a long time.


God was still using Barbara to comfort my pain.


God was using someone who not only had lived a painful, broken life but also had passed away.


In that moment, here is what I learned.


It wasn't Barbara who had strengthened me in 1993.

It wasn't Barbara who was strengthening me on this day.


In 1993, I had mistakenly thought,

"This lady is so strong.  I want to be like her."


Now I knew the truth.


Barbara was weak.

God was strong.


Even death couldn't stop God from using Barbara.

As a matter of fact, if you are struggling in your grief, click HERE, and God will use Barbara again to strengthen you.


Do you want to be strong?


Here's the secret:

Stop trying.

Embrace your weaknesses and hardships.

And trust God for the strength you need today.


He's got this.


That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses,

in insults, in hardships, in persecutions,

in difficulties.

For when I am weak, then I am strong.

II Cor. 12:10


When Your Child's Name Is On a Tombstone

Leaning against the doorframe of the school workroom, she shared her struggle.

She had snapped at her daughter all morning at home,

because she was stressed.


"I can't keep  living like this," she sighed.


As I looked into her aching eyes, I saw myself.


I saw a woman trying to balance a career with motherhood.


I saw a woman who longs to be the best she can be at work while longing to be the same at home.


How does a woman balance life?

How does she juggle all the responsibilities in her little part of the world without letting the most precious parts of life drop to the ground and shatter?


I still struggle with these same kind of questions, but a lot has changed since my second child's name was etched into a tombstone.


When Adrienne died of SIDS, I wrestled with grief for many years.

Three more kids pulled me back into the hustle and bustle of everyday life full force, and I soon found myself pushing forward at full speed.


Towards what?


I'm not really sure.


But I pushed forward.


When Nick became sick, and we heard the words "brain tumor,"

life stopped.




The years of surgeries, chemo, and radiation became some of the happiest years of motherhood,

because our family purposely laughed together, played games together, and embraced life together.


I never thought I would miss those days, but I do.


When you find yourself fighting for someone's life, you realize just how precious life is and how every single minute matters.


When Nick lost his fight and we found ourselves choosing a second tombstone,

I never wanted to return to a regular life again where stress got the best of me or the pressures of this world could make me crack.


It's been five years since we said goodbye to Nick.

Time has had a way of making foggy the joys of being Nick's mom,

but the other night I dreamed of him.

Tim, I haven't told you about this dream because I knew I would cry if I shared it with you out loud.


In my dream I was in a school building wrapped in only blankets,

vulnerable and weak.

As I tried to make it to the car,

Olivia's little dog came running from underneath a school bus soaking wet from the rain.

"Dash! You're going to get killed!" I screamed as I tried to catch him, still struggling to keep the blankets around me.

As I scooped Dash up, Nick was suddenly there beside me, smiling like he so often did.

I had a lot of things to carry, and he began picking things up and carrying them for me.

He rode home with me, and I wish so much I could remember the car ride.

I just remember that he said he didn't feel good, and he wanted to lay down.

When we got home, he snuggled in a blanket on the couch - the very couch on which he passed away.

I remember going upstairs and crying, praying God would heal him once again,

because in my dream it was as if I knew he was getting sick.

I called my mom and said,
"Maybe there's a new medicine we can try."

My dream ended with me looking at Nick on the couch and knowing deep inside that he was happy and he was okay.

When I woke up, I felt as if God had taken me back in time for a specific reason.

I felt as if God wanted me to remember my life with Nick in a very real and personal way,

because I believe God still longs to use Nick to make this world a better place just like Nick helped me make it to the car in my dream.


So, as I talked to this teacher-friend who was aching with the stress of life,

I didn't tell her about my dream,

but I did tell her this:


"If I could go back and change who I was when my kids were little, I would.  Stress leads to regret.  If you're going to fail from time to time, don't let it be with your family."


Here's what I know:


We only have our children for a few years.

Time passes way too quickly.


How do we want them to remember us?


Money cannot buy peace.

Money cannot buy more time.

Money cannot buy happiness, joy, or contentment.


I say live with less and love more deeply.


Less really is more in this upside down world.


When your child's name is etched into a tombstone,

you realize how fragile, precious, and short life really is.


Let go of stress today and choose love.


adrienne photo

nick fd resize



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