Life Is Messy

MessyHardship is part of life.

So are struggles.

Life is messy.

But we’re not alone.

Click on any article below.

crossHow to Find God’s Purpose in Your Disappointment

A few days after my college-age son relapsed with childhood cancer, I was cooking his favorite dinner and the realization that we were about to go into our second three-year battle for his life slammed me particularly hard. Alek, my middles son, walked into the kitchen, and I asked him to pray for his brother and our family.

My then sixteen-year-old’s reply? “Sure, Mom. I’ll do it for you. But I’m not really riding the God train right now.” READ MORE

prideThe Two Sides of Pride

Ever feel like you fall short of the mark? Miss your best moments? Never make the cut. Always come in last? READ HERE.

No Budge BeulahNo-Budge Beulah

Ever have someone kick you when you’re down?

Be cruel when you need compassion? 

Meet No-Budge Beulah. READ HERE.



drowningTwelve Tips When You’re Drowning 

I’ve spent more time in the last eighteen months fighting to stay above water in a storm-tossed ocean than I have standing on solid ground. Some days show up rockier than others. There are mornings I see the waves coming the second I open my eyes and then there are times I’m taken completely by surprise. Oddly, my rough-water days aren’t always the ones that come with crisis or high drama. MORE…




While You Wander

When’s the last time you rode a roller coaster? For me, it was four summers ago. The kids and I spent the day at Six Flags pushing the limits of gravity and our ability not to vomit. They came home hyper and happy, ready for another visit.I came home queasy and sad that my stomach no longer belonged to a twelve-year-old. MORE…


Getting RealHonesty Central:Getting Real 

I’m a writer. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve been published or in what venue, that need to create lives in my soul. It’s part of who I am. It is who I am. You’d think the first thing I’d turn to in a crisis or a struggle would be writing. At least in a journal. But I can’t. I don’t. Some days, I just won’t. MORE…


imagesThe Trouble With Honesty 

One Sunday while I waited for my husband to park the car, I sat on the bench next to the coffee bar in the church lobby. For fifteen minutes, I watched people coming in and out of the sanctuary. Most of them were smiling and hugging. Almost all of them asked each other the same question—“How are you?”

Here’s a breakdown of the answers:

“Awesome.” <given with an over-exuberant grin>

“Great.” <given with a regular grin>

“Fine.” <given with a barely there grin> MORE…


suffering oneSuffering by Default

Suffering. Bring up suffering with a group of Christians and you’re almost guaranteed to push people’s theological hot buttons. The questions will go something like this:

Does God cause my suffering or does He simply allow me to experience life in a sin-filled world? Does He want to use my circumstances to mold my character? Is there something I need to learn or do to escape the emotional or physical agony of being trapped in moments of trauma and crisis? Does He cause me pain on purpose or is this situation some kind of cosmic accident that I need to survive? MORE…


Broken Inn

Broken Inn

Through the tiny glass oval, I watched ant-size cars enlarge as my plane descended into Milwaukee. My morning coffee puddled in my stomach. Shoulders tight, I pulled my purse from under the seat and waited to deplane.

I questioned my decision to fly to Wisconsin to drive my mom to our family reunion in Ohio. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go—but locking two polar opposites in a Toyota Corolla for a day couldn’t end well. Could Laissez-faire Lori and Calendar Kay make it a day, let alone ten, without killing each other? MORE…

Conceding Christmas Part One.   

3 AM

I burrow deeper under the covers, the bed large and lonely. Thirteen days until Christmas, but I’m not planning a celebration.

Arranging a funeral seems more likely.

My husband stayed at the hospital tonight with our ten-year-old son. This time, Kyle struggles with fever, low blood counts, and multiple infections—staph in his central line and fungus in his left lung.

The neighbor’s Christmas lights shine through my curtains, pulsing red and green. An ache sets in around my temples. I’ve been lying here for hours, watching the numbers on the clock glow and change, trying to ignore God tugging at my heart. MORE…

Conceding Christmas   

Conceding Christmas Part Two. 

I curl up in a ball. Think about that verse from Matthew 11. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Do I believe it? Can I live it?

Release him. Trust me.

Every moment I don’t let go, fear eats away at me. I live in bondage to the terror that Kyle will die and leave me. I can’t hold out any longer on the tugging of my heart. MORE…

sinDoes Size Matter? The S Word Part I  

Mistakes. Poor judgment calls. Transgressions. Errors. Veering off the path. Blunders. Slip-ups. Oversights. Lapses. Misunderstandings. The thesaurus holds many words for sin. And no matter what the label, everyone sins. We can’t help it. We’re human. No matter how hard I try, I will always mess up somewhere along the journey, whether in thought or deed or motivation. Flawlessness? Never going to happen. MORE…


sin heavySins of the Past: The S Word Part II

Sin. A past. Everyone owns both. Combined, they can be quite unattractive. My sins plus my past? Definitely ugly. Certain periods of my life intertwine with blemishes I can’t scrub off. They feel dirty. Repulsive. Shameful. Can you relate? Whether I color my past transgressions white, gray, black or some palette of all three, a sin is a sin is a sin. God doesn’t differentiate between my white and my black. He doesn’t measure the gray and deem me good or bad. Acceptable or unacceptable. Fit or unfit. MORE…

bag over head

Naked…and Lacking. Part One.        

Putting yourself out there is hard. When you seek out new opportunities, new challenges, or new growth in any area of your life, vulnerability follows. I think it’s some kind of unwritten rule. It’s difficult whether you’re vying for a promotion or trying to find a new job. How many times will you have to sit through rote interviews with people less skilled and more casually dressed than you? MORE…

Sorting the Good from the Bad

Sorting the Good from the Bad

Naked…and Lacking Part Two: Sorting the Good From the Bad. 

In Part One of, I stripped us and put our vulnerabilities, imperfections, and fears on the stage under some hot lights and unforgiving judges. It didn’t feel so great to me. How about you? Why even put yourself out there at all? Because every once in a while, I actually learn something useful about my work, my character, and myself. MORE…


Naked…and Lacking Part Three: Put Your Clothes Back On

Relax and trust your teachable heart. Stop asking others what they think. Do what you know is right. MORE…

loveThe God Hole

Barring basic physical needs, what one thing can people not live without? The answer is love. “And now these three remain: faith, hope, love. And the greatest of these is love” (I Corinthians 13:13 NIV). We come into the world craving love, spend our lives chasing after love, and die wanting more love. Love pushes me through prickly patches in my marriage. Love prompts me to put my arms around my kids when my frustration peaks and all I want to do is walk away. Love paves the way to forgiveness when my anger rides high. MORE…



Me, Maddy, Kyle, Alek

Me, Maddy, Kyle, Alek

Failing Fast

A lone piece of pizza taunted me from the cardboard box. A perfect triangle of hot and greasy heaven—mozzarella browned just so. I sidestepped the mouth-watering heap of cheese and pepperoni and grabbed a banana from the fruit bowl. “Hey,” I yelled to the kids. “Someone come eat this pizza!”

No one came. I peeled the banana, shoved it in my mouth, and waited a minute or two for the sound of pounding footsteps on the stairs. MORE…

toilet paper

Fatal Attraction

This summer I took a trip up north. From Texas, I flew to Wisconsin, picked up my mom, and drove her to our family reunion in Ohio. Before our road trip began, we met my in-laws for breakfast at an old-fashioned diner in Sun Prairie. We enjoyed a great visit swapping stories and photos with my mother-in-law, Diane, and her new husband, Bob. After the meal and four cups of coffee, I excused myself to run to the little girl’s room before we got on the road. MORE...

Jeffrey’s Wheel

3:00 A.M.

I can just make out the small green numbers on the cable box. Why did I think this couch would be more comfortable than my bed? My body pillow hangs off the cushions and the blanket tangles around my legs. At least I’m free to toss and turn without heavy sighs from my husband’s side of the bed.

Squeak. Squeak. Squeak.

Jeffrey scampers inside the blue plastic wheel hooked to the bars of his hamster cage. For the last hour, I’ve been tossing and turning to the rhythm of his relentless, nocturnal quest. The wheel spins faster and faster. Jeffrey goes nowhere. Just like me. MORE…

When Christmas isn’t Joyful

When Life Poops on You

Where is the Miracle? Part One. 


Where is the Miracle? Part Two: The Miracle Manifested.