Pain—life’s motivator

“Pain is a great motivator.”

She spoke the words so matter-of-factly—as if part of her daily routine. And yet in that moment my world stopped spinning as I absorbed the unintended meaning of her words.

Pain is a great motivator.

I looked around the open gym area of the physical therapy office. I was there for my second visit—finally having surrendered to the limitations and pain of the whiplash I experienced last summer (you can read about that here). For months I have treated pain with over the counter medication and heat—or attempted to ignore it all together. And for months the pain kept getting worse. My range of motion became decreased, as did my willingness to try new things or even experience simple things I used to love, like laying my head back in the sink at the hair salon!

For months my pain motivated me to medicate, withdraw, and retreat.

But all of a sudden my petite twenty-something physical therapist was offering a new way—encouraging me to allow my pain to motivate me to stretch, strengthen and work-out my neck muscles.

“Your shoulder muscles have been doing things they were never meant to do,” she reported during my first visit, while massaging the pyramid of knots from left shoulder. “They have been overcompensating for the weakness in your neck muscles from the injury you sustained. You need to retrain each of your muscles to do the job for which each was intended.”

I didn’t quite absorb her words at the moment, since I was trying not to come up off the table as she worked out each painfully tight knot.

But yesterday as I reported feeling pain while typing away on my laptop, she urged me to use the pain to remind me to do the specific stretches she had printed off for me the week before.

“When your neck starts hurting, don’t ignore it and don’t grab Motrin,” she said, her tiny frame at odds with her commanding presence. “Instead, I want you to let the pain motivate you to stretch and strengthen your muscles, ok?”

I nodded at her, but deep somewhere deep within my soul, I felt myself agreeing with God.

From her audible words, my heart heard the inaudible voice of God whisper:

I want you to allow the pain of this life to draw you to Me so that I can strengthen your faith. When facing pain and conflict, disappointment and heartbreak you have two choices: allow it to draw you away from me or allow it to draw you towards me. In me is strength. In me is healing. In me is recovery. What will you choose?

A massage and a spiritual lesson! I’m really liking physical therapy!

And so today, I will pause from my typing to stretch and strengthen my neck. Knowing that it is not an overnight cure, and that strengthening these muscles and retraining them to only carry the burden to which they were created will take a long time. But trusting that one day the pain will be less and my neck will be stronger.

Today, I will allow my pain to motivate me to do the work I must do so that I can heal, whether that work is neck stretches and exercise, or prayer and spending time in God’s Word.

Are you facing some kind of pain today? Physical? Emotional? Spiritual? Our natural response is to flee from pain, to try and disguise it or ignore it. But what if today we embrace that pain, just a little, and allow it to propel us into the arms of the One who loves us more than we can possibly imagine—even if we don’t always feel that loveable. God is good even when our circumstances are not. Today, just for this moment, will you allow your pain to motivate you to cry out to Him and to do the work that will ultimately lead to healing? And if you would like to leave a prayer request, it would be an honor for me to pray for you as you do the hard work of stretching and strengthening. (I’ll pray for you as I go through my neck workout routine! 😉

Much love,

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Parenting free of fear (even when your kids begin to drive!)

I felt like an idiot crying my ever-lovin’ head off in my kitchen. Thank God no one was home.

What is wrong with me? I cried out, startling the dog from her nap.

I kept staring at the text that had just come through letting me know it was time to schedule my son’s behind the wheel driver’s ed class. I had read the words and then lost it. The weight of a hidden fear I have carried for years erupting like an emotional volcano.

A fear that had begun as a dream….When my son was only two, I had a dream that he was driving our car and crashed. In my dream, I ran to his lifeless little body, sprawled out on the road.

Awful right?! (welcome to my nightmares!)

It was so awful and a dream that has stayed with me ever since. A dream I never told anyone about. And a dream that fueled a fear that I would allow to simmer until that day in my kitchen.

But that day as I stared at my phone I had to confront that fear. And it was hard. I cried. I yelled. I stomped. And I totally freaked out our poor dog!

“God, ask me to write 100 more books,” I pleaded, “but please don’t ask me to let my son drive!!”

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I had a full on temper tantrum with God for about thirty minutes. But then, when all my tears were spent and all my emotion laid bare, I quieted.

I took a deep breath.

And I surrendered.

I surrendered my perceived control for God’s full control.

I submitted my fears to His Sovereign will.

And I committed my child to his heavenly Father’s plan.

It was hard, but at the end of my emotional torrent, I meant every word.

For years I have been anxious of letting my son drive. For years I have feared having to let go. And for years I have tried to shove those feelings and fears down, pretending all was well.

But that day as my lack of control could no longer be denied, I remembered something—a fundamental truth I have preached and taught and shared with others, but a truth I had somehow forgotten to apply to myself: the need to allow yourself to grieve.

From my time as a grief counselor, I saw firsthand the importance of taking time to grieve. Those who did the painful work of grief—remembering, weeping, allowing themselves to feel anger, allowing themselves to simply experience the feelings—would eventually heal. They would always bear a scar, but the open wound would heal. But those who tried to shove the grief down, tried to hide the pain or ignore the wound, would carry that wound with them for the rest of their lives.

Maybe because I have worked with children for so long, I tend to put important things I want to remember into rhymes. And because I saw firsthand how important it is to let yourself grieve I put that principle into this rhyme:

Feel and deal and one day you’ll heal. But stow and go and one day you’ll blow.

Catchy right?

And yet so true!

As I dried my tears that day in the kitchen, I felt lighter than I had in years. I had finally allowed myself to feel and deal with my fears—and to feel and deal with the fact that my baby is getting older and the childhood clock is running out.

I have loved being a mom to small children, and even though I love my older kids and find that this stage of parenting is pretty awesome too, I finally realized that I needed to allow myself to feel the loss of the little kid stage, and the perceived control it afforded me.

So much of parenting involves an aspect of grief, doesn’t it? It seems weird to write that, but yet as our children enter a new stage, it means the loss of the one before. And while for some stages that is great! For others it is painful.

I think as parents maybe we need to let ourselves feel and deal a little more, something that is getting harder and harder in this crazy busy world that demands our full attention and constantly has us on the go.

But I know the peace that flooded my heart that day in my kitchen was a result of pouring out my fears and my feelings to the One who knows my heart and invites me to share the burden of my fears, my feelings, and my pain.

Do you need to cry out to God today? Is there a pain or a fear you have been trying to ignore or hide? He awaits with loving arms open to you (even if you come to Him in the midst of a big ol’ adult temper tantrum!) And as you feel and deal in His arms ask Him reveal His love and goodness to you. 

Fear is a natural part of parenting, and yet, by continually taking those fears to God and laying Him at His feet, we can live and parent free from fear (even when letting our kid get behind the wheel of a car!!)

Praying for all of us who are wrestling with fear today (and especially for all mamas of driving children!)

I felt like an idiot crying my ever-lovin_ head off in my kitchen. Thank God no one was home. What is wrong with me_ I cried out, startling the dog from her nap. I kept staring at the

Much love,

An Easy and Powerful Way to Connect With Your Child

My 15 year old son sat crossed legged in the middle of my bed as I dug through our fire safe. I was looking for his birth-certificate and social security card—documents he would need to take to the DMV the next morning to get his learner’s permit. Our fire safe contains a hodgepodge of items: documents, mementos, recordings, and letters. My son tried on his great-grandfather’s ring, marveled at a two-dollar bill and begged to know when he could cash in his savings bonds.

Finally securing the necessary papers, I took them downstairs and placed them in an envelope for their trip to the DMV. After cleaning up the kitchen, letting the dog out, and putting the clothes in the dryer, I returned to my room to put the fire safe away. There I found my son, still sitting in the middle of my bed, surrounded by the contents of the safe and clutching a sheet of paper. His grip was firm—yet reverent. His expression hard to read—but clearly focused. His eyes glassy with unshed tears.

Mentally scrolling through the list of documents, wondering what could have him so enthralled, I asked what he was reading.

He looked up at me—the look on his face is something I will never forget.

“You wrote this to me,” he said, sounding befuddled. 

He untangled his limbs and stood. He held the letter out to me.

“You wrote this to me before I was even born.” His words held a reverence I’d never heard from him. “I….you….I love you mom.”

I was enveloped in his arms. His head resting on my own. His six foot frame towering over mine.

And then he left, the emotion more than his teenage heart could handle. But before he left, he handed me the letter—a letter I don’t recall writing, let alone placing in the safe.

I scanned the first line.

“To my little buddy, I am 23 weeks pregnant with you and this will be the first of many letters that I will write you.”

I sat down on my bed and read the words I had penned over 15 years ago. I have written many letters to him since, but I didn’t remember this one.

I had written of my fears and of faith. I had made him promises and written of all the things we would do together. And about how much I wanted him, how I longed to meet him, and how proud I already was to be his mom.


I made myself cry—reading the letter I still had no memory of writing!!

But my amnesia didn’t matter. All that mattered was that those heart-felt words had touched my son’s heart in a way that I couldn’t have imagined.

I will confess to making a ton of mistakes in this thing called parenting, and no doubt, I will make many more. But I believe that day I accidentally stumbled across something very powerful, a precious tool every parent has in their parenting toolbox—the power of the written word.

My son was able to see the depths of my heart in a way that is easily lost in the torrents of errands, dinner, He was able to absorb my words as they were intended, without  a lecture or big life lesson tossed in the middle. And he was able to see me as a person—a person struggling with fear, wrestling with my faith, and longing for my heart’s desire.

I tucked the letter back in its envelope and placed it in the fire safe—right behind another envelope.


This one yellowed, with a different name on the front. My name, in my daddy’s handwriting. Inside were letters my dad had written to me. The first one penned when my mom was pregnant with me.

How had I forgotten these letters?

And so I snuggled into my bed and carefully opened the envelope. I held the sheet of paper reverently as I read of my dad’s fears and joys, his hopes and dreams. Of his faith and his love for his family.

A letter.

Words on a page.

A heart shared through sentences and paragraphs and thoughts.

Such an easy assignment.

Such a vast reward.

You don’t have to be eloquent. It doesn’t have to be long. You don’t have to be a great writer or good at grammar. You just need to be willing to take ten minutes and share a bit of your heart with one you love.

In this day of electronic communication, emojis and gifs, there is something almost sacred about words written on a sheet of paper (or even a napkin).

And even though one day you might forget ever writing those words, they just may end up being one of the most precious gifts you will ever give your child (or anyone).

My sweet child, I love you...Mom

Do you have a special way of connecting with your child? Do you share letters? Or maybe a special date night? I would love to hear about the ways you share your heart and connect with your kids!


Why you might want to buy an old fashion ice tray…

Our ice maker stopped working several months ago. Annoying, yes, but worth spending over $100 for the replacement part—when a bag of ice costs just over $2? Um…no. I’m sure we will eventually get around to repairing it, but in the meantime we are making do with bagged ice and one little ice tray.

Remember those things? Those little plastic trays you fill with water and watch magically turn into ice?


My kid’s minds were blown the first time I made ice the “old fashioned way!”

Over the past few months I have developed an odd, but deep, respect for our little 12-count ice tray.

You see, I have a dog who loves ice. I mean LOVES the stuff. To her there is no greater treat than a big block of ice. (why can’t I think of ice as dessert?? Chocolate cake, ma’am? Oh no, just bring me a giant bowl of ice please!!)



[Side bar story: the first time our sweet girl went outside to a snow/ice covered yard she threw her head up (in what was surely a moment of canine praise and worship of the Maker of the ice mana) before frantically eating her way across the yard—her mouth open like a blue whale feeding on krill!]

Well, since she loves ice and considers it a treat, having ice on hand is, in her mind at least, necessary.

The frozen cubes are also deemed necessary by my teenage son who is convinced that sweet tea belongs at the bottom of the food pyramid—the sweet ice cold foundation upon which all else stands.


And so, with such fervent ice needs, I’ve had to buy a lot of ice (ok, now that I’m writing this maybe we should just pay the money to get the new part!)

But we’re cheap frugal and thankfully our cheapness frugality has allowed me to see something I believe God wants us all to understand:

He can use us, and expand our little efforts, in miraculous ways when we continually draw close to Him.

So back to my ice tray—

This little thing only makes 12 cubes at a time—not nearly enough to keep the dog happy all day or my son’s tea cold each time. So when I would fill the tray in the morning, its contents would be used up by the evening, and either the dog or the boy would be left lacking (I’ll let you decide who usually wins the rights to the last ice cube)

But one day recently I decided to be proactive with our ice situation and emptied and refilled the ice tray every few hours—again blowing my kid’s minds when they came home to find well over 100 ice cubes in the non-working ice maker. (it really doesn’t take much to impress my kids!)

That little tray would rest under the faucet where it would be filled to the top before going into the freezer to do the job to which it was created—being emptied of it’s contents. It would then be returned to the source of water in order to repeat the process.


As I watched our ice maker fill with ice—a mere 12 cubes at a time—I started to see the beauty being reflected in that cold freezer drawer.

When we go to the source of Living Water—when we sit before the Father, whether in deep study of His Word or in quiet recognition of Who He truly is—we become filled to the top with His goodness and His character. Then as we go about our daily routine—to the jobs and roles He has given us—he places a cube of His kindness here, a cube of His generosity there, a cube of His love over there. And pretty soon we have been emptied of what He has given us so that we might return to Him to be filled again, therefore filling this world with the fingerprints of God.

The more we are filled, the more we have to share.

I will never look at my little ice tray the same way!


Much love,


“That according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 6:16-19