Faith At Home

Three Things We’re Doing to Build a Strong Family

I wish so badly that there was some sort of formula for parenting.

That if you fed your kids a certain number of vegetables, took them to church a certain number of times, and gave them a certain number of goodnight kisses, you could guarantee that things would turn out the way you wanted them to.

Unfortunately, like so many other things in life, there is no one clear-cut way to guarantee results in your parenting. The longer I serve the Lord, the more I realize that beyond the basic right and wrong, it is absolutely essential to be yielded to the Lord’s leading in all that we do, especially in parenting.

Remember what Mary said to the servants at the wedding in Cana? “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5).

Mary knew Jesus. She knew his authority and his power. She trusted that if the servants followed his guidance, Jesus would make things right.

So before I share about the ways we are building a strong family, I want to preface it with this: do whatever he tells you. I really think that these pillars of our family culture are beneficial for all kids, and research even backs up how important and foundational some of these practices are. But you have to start with the vision God gives for your own family. If one or more of these doesn’t resonate with you in your season or particular family dynamics, and most importantly, if God is leading you to do something different, then by all means do that.

But like I said, I think for most families these three things will help, over time, to build a foundation for a resilient, close-knit, healthy family.

  1. Share stories


Stories matter. Did you know that one of the biggest predictors of a child’s ACT scores—more than race or gender or socioeconomic status—is whether or not that child’s parents read to him or her? But even if it didn’t virtually guarantee academic results, I’d still read my kids stories. Jesus told stories. The Bible itself is a story. Stories show us who we are and who we can be like nothing else can, and being able to pass that on virtue and character to our kids through stories is a priceless gift.

  1. Share meals together

There are so many studies that point to the overwhelming importance of regular family meals. Kids whose families eat together are less likely to be overweight or become addicted to drugs. They are also more likely to do well in school, and be resilient in the face of adversity. But again, I think there is a strong case for eating with your family even if these factors were not in play. Food plays an extremely important role in the Bible, and if Jesus spent time eating with his disciples, shouldn’t we eat with ours?

I know that, at least for me, the time and effort it takes to make regular family meals happen can be a challenge. Soon, I’ll share some more strategies for making this a little easier, but there’s one big thing that really helps us make family meals a priority: we eat breakfast together.

Several years ago, another pastor’s wife shared with me that family breakfasts worked better with their weird schedule, and I instantly realized what a game-changer that would be for us. Now, I feel more off-kilter when we haven’t had a sit-down breakfast in a few days, than when we’ve missed a bunch of dinners in a row. If dinner works for you, that’s awesome. But if it doesn’t, know that it doesn’t have to be at night to count as a family meal.

  1. Share time in nature


Kids absolutely need time outside. Period. Not only does it help their physical bodies, but it’s so much easier for us to wonder at the mystery of God’s creation when we are out in it. Standing at the edge of the ocean, climbing to a mountain peak, sleeping under a canopy of stars—these are the things that absolutely take my breath away at the beauty and majesty of our God. I want to pass those same experiences on to my children, so we try as much as we can to explore and camp and go on hikes.

And one more, as a bonus:

  1. Play Games


I would be remiss if I left if out because this is such a big part of who we are as a family. Jason and I both come from game-playing families, and playing games together was an early part of our relationship. We love sitting around the table and playing games with our family (the big people) and we would love for that to be true with our own kids when they are grown. I don’t know if there’s any research backing up the importance of a regular family game night (something we’re trying to get more consistent at doing), but playing games teaches kids to be gracious winners and losers, to cooperate, to think strategically, and a host of other skills. Plus it’s tons of fun!

So, that’s what we are doing. Like I said, there’s no formula, but I think if I can do these things consistently over the next decade or so, these habits will eventually bear good fruit in my kids’ lives. So now you tell me: did I leave anything out? What do you do to build a strong family? And do you have any tips or tricks to make it easier to implement these habits? Let me know in the comments!


How We Take Long Road Trips without a DVD Player


When I was a kid, we took a lot of vacations.

On one particularly epic road trip, we drove to Texas for my dad to interview for a job, from Texas along the gulf coast to Florida for a week at DisneyWorld, then back home to Missouri. It was something like six full days in the car. (Yes, I said car. We had a sedan, not a minivan or station wagon.) And did I mention that my sister and I were six and eight years old at the time?

When Caleb was a baby, we traveled a lot and it was easy, but once he was mobile and we’d added a second baby to the family, traveling felt kind of impossible. I marveled that my parents didn’t kill me or my sister on all those long road trips. But lately, with our recent move to Nashville, we’ve been taking lots of trips, and it’s been surprisingly manageable. It’s even been kind of fun.

Please note: part of the reason all of this works is the age of our kiddos. For us, the magic age of successful trips was about 4 or 5. The kids were (finally) potty-trained, and a whole lot better at understanding how long they would be in the car and why. If you have little-bitty kids, road trips might just be plain hard. Hang in there.

But even with bigger kids, a long day in the car can be a little daunting. Like my parents back in the day, we don’t have a minivan. We have a 13-year-old compact car and 17-year-old truck. (Nissan and Toyota, in case you were wondering. They’re been amazing vehicles for us). We’ve done road trips in both, and neither has a DVD player. So a movie marathon to kill the day is out. But it’s not been as big of a deal as I thought might be.

Here are a few ways that we make it through the day (and still all like each other at bedtime):

  1. Let your kids be bored

This one requires the most advance planning, but it is so worth it. If your kids are used to you coming up with things for them to do every twenty minutes throughout the day, they will expect the same thing when you’re in the car. And unless you pack a whole suitcase full of things for them to do, you will run out of ideas way before your first pit stop.

But resourcefulness comes from boredom. Let your kids come up with their own games on a regular basis at home, and they’ll be equipped to do the same thing on the road. On our last trip out to Nashville, the boys spent about 45 minutes making tents with their coats draped over the backs of our seats. Go figure.

  1. No limits on snacks

This is what makes trips fun. We bring snacks along to curb impulse buys at convenience stores, and try to keep the snacks on the healthier side (jerky, trail mix, crackers, fruit), but for the most part, if my kids ask for something to eat when we’re on a trip, the answer is yes.

This means they are eating almost all day long, and don’t eat great at meals, but for a little peace when we’re all cooped up in the same space all day, it’s a worthwhile exchange.

  1. Audiobooks and audiodramas

This is one of my absolute favorite ways to pass the time during long stretches in the car. A good book or story makes the trip fly by. Listening to something together as a family is something even the driver can be involved in, and as opposed to a movie, kids have to be really quiet to catch what’s going on in an audiobook.

Some of our favorites are:

  • Little House on the Prairie
  • The Chronicles of Narnia
  • Adventures in Odyssey (I LOVED this one as a kid)
  • A Bear Called Paddington
  • Charlotte’s Web
  1. Easy activities

For me, a good car activity doesn’t require my help, takes up very little space, and doesn’t make a mess. Some of our favorite things to bring along are:


So, that’s what we do on road trips. What do you do to keep your kids occupied for those long strechs in the car?

Heart · Holidays

How We are Celebrating Advent with Waiting

Back in August, I read that in some liturgical traditions, they don’t begin to decorate or celebrate Christmas itself until December 24 or 25. These weeks between Thanksgiving and the celebration of our Savior’s birth are reserved for waiting.

As the calendar neared December, and I started planning the ways we would observe the holidays as a family, I kept coming back to the idea of waiting until it was actually Christmas to do any celebrating.

My temptation is always to try to do too much. Other familys’ traditions all sound so wonderful, I’m afraid to leave anything out. I want to make Christmas candy and bake a birthday cake for Jesus, and go to all the parties, and teach my kids about Hanukkah, and go caroling, and celebrate St. Nicholas day, and do an advent wreath, and attend a cookie swap, and make a Jesse tree.

But I can’t do all of it. So as I sifted through all the ideas and my own desires, I wondered: what would it look like for our family to obverse Advent as a time of waiting?

To intentionally delay our celebrations and live in the tension of the now-and-not-yet Kingdom of God?

To seek out reminders that this world is not our home?

To store up treasures in heaven instead of earth?

I couldn’t move my friends’ parties, obviously, or ask the city park to wait six more weeks to put up their lights. And I could only avoid Caleb and Garrett seeing the Christmas displays at Walmart for so long. But I could figure out ways to bring an intentional waiting into our home.

As it turns out, forgoing the holiday trimmings has been a necessity as much as it was an intentional choice. When everything else is going into boxes, I can’t really justify bringing the Christmas things out of their boxes.

While moving at Christmastime has been stressful, I couldn’t ask for a more poignant reminder of waiting.

Truth be told, we’ve been waiting all year for the Lord to move in one way or another. Back in January, we had revival services at our church, and we knew then that this year was going to be a hard one of transition for our family. When we finally sensed the Lord leading us to close our church plant, we did so in faith, not knowing what would be next for us. When we sensed His leading to Nashville, we put our current house on the market, and made an offer on one in Tennessee.

Now, even though we have two houses under contract, the closing dates keep shifting, and the Lord is still, after eleven months, saying wait.

We are doing a few small things as a family to look to Jesus in this season, to anticipate His coming and joy that will be ours on Christmas Day:

We are unwrapping and reading one new Christmas picture book each day. (I’ve discovered a bunch of new-to-me treasures this year; I’ll share a full list of what we’re reading soon!)

We are lighting Advent candles every morning at breakfast.

We are listening to music that reminds us of the yearning the Israelites felt for the coming Messiah.

And tonight, we will begin this Christmas devotional during story time before bed.

That’s it.

Christmas is in twenty-four days, and I’m not exaggerating a bit when I say I do not know where we will wake up on Christmas morning. We could still be in our familiar Ozark home. We could be in our new house in Nashville. We could be somewhere in between. I really don’t know. I don’t know if we will have a chance to put up a tree or not.

God knows, though, our job for now (for always) is simply to wait on Him.

We won’t have to wait forever. At just the right time, Jesus came and broke the 400-year silence of God towards His people. When the time is right, He will come back for his church. And at some point in the meantime, I do believe that we will eventually, finally, get to Nashville.

But for today, we wait.

I know many of you are still praying for our family as we walk through time of transition. Thank you so much. Now that I’ve shared where we are at, I want to know: how are you celebrating Christmas with your family this year? 

Books & Reading · Homeschooling

Voting & Democracy Unit Study (with links!)


Hey, everyone! Did you think I’d forgotten about this little space on the internet?

It’s been a wild ride the last couple of months. As if job changes and beginning to home school weren’t enough of a change, we are taking a step of faith and moving to Nashville. We close on our house of eight years in twenty-five days, and have begun to find a new rhythm that works for us just in time to have it thrown into complete chaos by moving!

But all the while, I’ve been thinking about what to share here, about what would encourage your heart, point your eyes to Jesus, and help you as you seek to live our your faith and build a strong family. Soon, I hope, I will have much more to share with you. But for today, something fun.

I know you probably have strong feelings about this year’s election. I do, too. But a presidential election is still an exciting time, and getting to participate in choosing our next leader is a privilege I refuse to be anything but grateful for. I’m hoping to shield my kids from the vitriol of this election and just introduce them to the wonder and excitement of big ideas like liberty, democracy, and the electoral process.

I had some trouble finding democracy and voting unit study plans that were both interdisciplinary and appropriate for my pre-K and first grade boys. So, with a lot of time on my library’s card catalog website, and a little bit of flexibility and willingness to take time to answer my boys’ questions, I put together my own. I’m sharing it here in case anyone else is looking for good resources to teach preschoolers and early elementary students about the upcoming election.

Please note: discussions about liberty and voting often touch on a lot of other big issues, issues like racism, war, women’s rights, and political ideology. So I would certainly recommend previewing everything, so that you can decide for yourself what’s right for your class or family before you share it with them.

Our regular curriculum has a strong literature-based slant, so I kept that in mind as I approached this unit study. The books we read aloud together covered several subjects, including language arts, social studies, math, and reading, and then we added some fun projects to work in science, art, and music.

Below, I’ve listed the resources we used by type, then broken it down into what we actually used each day. What made the most sense to me was to give each day its own theme, but you could certainly group things in lots of other ways.  Enjoy!

Resources we used


Naming Liberty // Jane Yolen
Just in Time Abraham Lincoln // Patricia Polacco
When Penny Met POTUS // Rachel Ruiz
American Poetry (From the Poetry for Young People series) // Edited by John Hollander
Duck for President // Doreen Cronin
The Grizzly Gazette // Stuart J. Murphy
Sir Cumference and the Off-the-Charts Dessert // Cindy Neuschwander
Grace for President // Kelly DiPucchio
The Day Gogo Went to Vote // Elinor Batezat Sisulu
Around America to Win the Vote // Mara Rockliff
Elizabeth Started All the Trouble // Doreen Rappaport
We the Kids: The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States // David Catrow
The Buck Stops Here // Alice Provensen
One Vote, Two Votes, I Vote, You Vote // Bonnie Worth
Francis Scott Key’s Star-Spangled Banner // Monica Kulling


National anthem when Maya DiRado received her Olympic gold medal (this one makes me cry every time!)
Lady Gaga sings the National Anthem at the 2016 Super Bowl
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: The Neighborhood Votes/ The Class Votes
Peg + Cat: The Election Problem
PBS Kids You Choose Project


Copper oxidation science experiement (to understand why the Statue of Liberty is green)
Printable President trading cards
Design your own campaign poster
Printable electoral vote map
Research on learning database (see if your library has it!)

Daily lessons

(No lesson plan for Monday because our books and projects that day were all about Halloween.)

Tuesday: Liberty and Democracy

Read-alouds: Naming Liberty, Liberty’s Journey
Memory work: Preamble to the Constitution (using the picture book We the Kids)
Music: Star Spangled Banner & Patriotic Songs
Science: Penny experiment

Wednesday: Presidents

Read-alouds: When Penny Met POTUS, George Washington easy-reader biography, Just in Time Abraham Lincoln, The Buck Stops Here
Memory work: Preamble to the Constitution (using the picture book We the Kids)
Fine-motor activity: cutting and folding presidential trading cards
Social studies: Pebble Go articles

Thursday: Suffrage and Campainging

Read-alouds: Elizabeth Started All the Trouble, Around America to Win the Vote, The Day Gogo Went to Vote, Grace for President
Memory work: Preamble to the Constitution (using the picture book We the Kids)
Math: The Grizzly Gazette
Art: campaign posters

Friday: Voting

Read-alouds: One Vote Two Votes, Duck for President, Grace for President
Memory work: Preamble to the Constitution (using the picture book We the Kids)
Math: Sir Cumference and the Off-the-Charts Dessert
Social Studies: Daniel Tiger and Peg + Cat episodes and discussion


If you have any suggestions to add, share them in the comments below!

Heart · Home

To Garrett, on Your 5th Birthday


Sweet 5 year old boy:

I don’t want to turn your day into my day, forcing you to relive my memories, but it’s hard not to stare into today and see back in time to the waiting, the laboring, the fear.

You were a full nine days later than I thought you’d be, but you came screaming into the world, louder than your 16-month-old big brother ever was, and hungrier for what I could give you.

I didn’t know what to do with you those first weeks, when you wouldn’t let me put you down for even a second. You emptied me out with your desperate need for me and filled me back up the same way. Even from those very first days you were you. Five years later, you still scream loud, and still want my arms.

Last night you crawled into my bed; it had been a long time since you’d last done that. And though on any other night, I would have resisted the idea of even a moment’s lost sleep, last night, on the verge of your fifth birthday, I couldn’t help but be thankful for this fleeting chance to hold my four-year-old one last time. Against my body, I tucked yours, that body that’s small for four, let alone five, but still so impossibly big for the tiny baby that was still inside me five years ago this night, that tiny baby that I sometimes still see in you.

How can it be five years already?

I know they happened one day at a time. And even though nostalgia fogs my memory, I’m not going to sit here and say that they were all wonderful. There a lot of those days that I wouldn’t want to go back and revisit, and so many that I wish I could do again differently.

But I am thankful for all 1,825 days you’ve been here, because all of them are like raindrops, small but many, carving out the riverbed of the mom I’m meant to be.


It’s hard, this carving. I don’t miss days on my knees outside your bedroom door when neither of you would nap and I begged the Lord for wisdom: mercy or discipline?

It’s a daily remaking; the choice to get up off the couch one more time for one more kiss, to bite my tongue at the accusations that are rising up in my throat, to wrestle my angry face back into a patient one before I look at you and respond. And to repent over and over again when I get it wrong and ignore and accuse and give my anger a foothold.


We sit at the table for breakfast again, and again go over those words that I hope are beginning to be burned into your soul: “Your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord” (2 Kings 22:19).

I think about all the times I’ve kneeled myself low to lift you up, and how the day is coming soon when your legs will grow long like your brother’s, and I’ll pick you up and set you down for the very last time.

And if I could wish anything for your birthday today, it is that you would know this: that the path to greatness is not in the reaching high, but in the kneeling low. It is that kneeling, the submission of my needs to yours, that has been my greatest remaking.

It’s what makes motherhood both so hard and so wonderful, because it’s where we meet Jesus.

Jesus, who emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8, ESV).

He has given so much more than we ever will, son. And someday when we see Christ in His glory, these verses go on to tell us, every knee will bow before Him. For now, we have the privilege of choosing.

It’s lesson I’ve been learning all these wonderful five years: we get to choose to kneel. It’s a hard choice, sometimes, but it’s always the right one.

Choose to kneel, Garrett, and you will be unstoppable.


Why We are Homeschooling This Year (and How That’s Helping Me Live by Faith)

What does it really mean to have faith?

I’ve been wrestling with this question lately, as Jason and I have been thrust into a season that requires a lot more of it than we have ever needed before. In my head, I know that God is more than able to take care of us. But my heart is afraid of doing the brave work of stepping out before I can see the entire picture of our future.

So when God began to speak to me last spring about homeschooling Caleb, our oldest son, I mostly kept it quiet. I knew it was the voice of the Lord, and yet, I was hoping that He would also give us answers to all the other questions we were asking, like “where will we work? Where will we live? Where will we go to church?”

Truthfully, what I wanted was to avoid having to stand on faith, and admit out loud these wild, reckless ways in which God was leading us. I wanted to be able to say, “Well, Jason got this job in Timbuktu, so sorry Ozark Schools, but we won’t be back next year, and since we don’t speak Timbuktu-ese, obviously we will be homeschooling.”

Instead of simply admitting what God was doing in my heart, and seeking him for more guidance, I did what I do best when I don’t feel like I have enough control: I threw myself into researching different homeschooling methods to the point of obsession.

I did privately ask a few trusted friends for advice, and one of them invited me to come with her to a local homeschooling conference. I hoped the conference would clarify some things for me. As in, maybe there would be someone there who would just tell me exactly what to do for the next nine months.

Of course, that did not happen.

What the speakers and workshop leaders did tell me, over and over again, was to seek the wisdom that only God gives for my own children and our unique situation as a family, and then be obedient to whatever He told me to do.

Part of me was a little frustrated by this advice. Just tell me what math curriculum will make my child brilliant! But the rest of me knew these wise advisers were speaking the truth. God formed my children. He knows them better than I ever will. And only He knows our future. Who better to go to for help?

It also solidified my convictions that this was the path we were supposed to take. There are a multitude of reasons homeschooling appealed to me and made sense for our family for where we are right now, but the major reason I was drawn to it was because it was what I knew in my heart God was leading me to do.

I could not deny that still, small voice saying, “This is the way; walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21)

If for nothing else, this process of choosing to homeschool has taught me so much about listening for the Lord’s voice, and stepping out in faith based on only what He said. I want the evidence it’s going to work out before I take those first few steps, but that wouldn’t be faith. I cannot have it both ways.

He has been so gracious to me along the way. Every time I speak out about another piece of our future’s puzzle that God has revealed to us, my friends and family have been nothing but supportive. But God also keeps gently pushing me out into that territory where I must be sure of what I hope for and certain of what I do not see (Hebrews 11:1). So I’m continuing to try and do the brave work of walking by faith and not by sight. This begins by simply saying out loud, “We are homeschooling this year.” Not “we might be” or “we are considering it” like I said for so many months, even though in my heart I knew the truth.

Speaking the truth is saying, simply, “we are doing it.”

So, we are doing it.

We start today.

I am tremendously excited about it, and so are the kids. I’m sure their enthusiasm will wear off eventually, maybe even later today, but I’m grateful for it as we begin. I am also excited about what I’ve discovered in all my research. There are so many amazing resources out there for parenting, teaching your kids about the Bible, and building a strong family culture that you probably wouldn’t come across unless you were homeschooling. I cannot wait to begin sharing them with you.

But for now, I thought I’d just quickly share what resources we are planning to use this year, in case you’re curious.

Singapore Math. We are beginning at the beginning, with book 1A. This will review some of what he learned in Kindergarten, but I want him to have a strong grasp of these concepts,  and get into a rhythm of doing the daily work before we cover new material.

For Caleb: Houghton-Mifflin.  I’ve tried some more interactive and phonics-based things with him at home before, and he’s never been as excited about any of them as he is about this textbook. So we’ll use it for the next several weeks, and then reevaluate his needs moving forward.
For Garrett: Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

Social Studies
Story of the World, Volume 1.

The biology plan outlined for first grade in The Well-Trained Mind

What’s in the Bible? With Buck Denver

On top of this, we intend to frequent the library, and read a lot of great books.

Garrett is also in preschool three mornings a week. There he will work on penmanship and his letters and numbers. Moreover, his being out of the house will give me more time for one-on-one teaching with Caleb. When Garrett is here, he’ll get reading instruction, and beyond that, simply listen along to what we are doing, and participate if and when he wants to.

I think it’s going to be a great year!

Heart · Holidays

The First Whisper of Christmas


Today is December 1st. The big meal and big deals are behind us. We started lighting advent candles at our dinner table two nights ago, and tonight, at bedtime, we will crack open a brand-new storybook that will carry us through these next 24 days, tracing the family of Jesus, the promised Messiah.

It begins with the promise that God made to Israel, through the prophet Isaiah:

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him–the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD–and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. 
“He will not judge by what he see with his eyes or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.
“The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
“In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the people; the nations will rally to him and his place of rest will be glorious.” Isaiah 11:1-10

This is what the whole Old Testament has been leading up to, what all of creation itself has been waiting for since Adam and Eve took that very first bite of sin. This is where we place our hope, this Coming One, who will reconcile us to God and bring us peace.

My advent devotional reading this morning asked where in my life I was longing for a tender shoot of hope, and I wanted to ask back, “where am I not longing for hope?” Two thousand fifteen has been, without question, the hardest year I’ve had yet. Truthfully, there’s a large part of my heart that would be willing to box up the tree and skip right over this season and right into a new year.

This year has been a year of circling the story of Elijah. There’s the story of Mt. Carmel, when God answers Elijah’s simple but faith-filled prayer by sending fire from heaven. It is, to my mind, one the most astounding miracles in the whole BIble–this fire that burns up soaked wood and laps the water filling the trench beside it.

But that’s not the story I keep coming back to. In the aftermath of that miracle, Jezebel threatens to kill Elijah, since he killed her false prophets.

And Elijah is DONE.

“He came to a broom tree, sat down under it, and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, LORD.’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.'” 1 Kings 19:4

It is this story that I kept coming back to.

“I have had enough, Lord,” I prayed in April.

Then we put our dog to sleep.

“I’ve had enough.”

My son, who is about to start kindergarten, can’t stop having accidents.

“I’ve had enough.”

Attendance numbers at our church leave me feeling discouraged.

“I’ve had enough.”

My doctor can’t figure out why the medicine isn’t helping my asthma, and in the meantime, I can’t walk a block without getting winded.

“I’ve had enough.”

My friends move away.

“I’ve had enough.”

Hurt. Betrayal. Loss. Failure. Fear.

“I’ve had enough.”

Every single thing that happened, small or large, felt like the last straw, and I would kneel in my bedroom and read this story and pour my heart out before the Lord.

Like the people of Israel waiting for a political Messiah to throw off Roman oppression, I want Jesus to come in big and loud and rescue me out of this mess. I want God to be in the mighty wind or the earthquake or the fire. But that isn’t how God appeared to Elijah, and it’s not how he appears to us.

“After the fire came a gentle whisper.” 1 Kings 19:12

“She gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and place him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7

All year long, I’ve been begging God to come and change my circumstances. But instead, he offers to come in quiet and small, and change me.

Come, thou long-expected Jesus.