Archive for May, 2009

The Story of Whitney

Posted: May 29, 2009 in Uncategorized

Once upon a time, two kids – seriously, very young kids – got married. As we all know, these marriages are doomed to failure. Except this one. This marriage was special and real and the two kids were committed to loving each other forever and ever no matter what. One of the early “no matter what’s” was the discovery of a baby on the way just two years after the wedding and about 27 years ahead of schedule. In spite of fear and poverty and fear and ignorance and more fear again, the two kids faced the coming arrival of their baby with excitement. They bought baby clothes in neutral colors and decorated the nursery of their basement apartment with hand-me-down yellow gingham accessories. When they ran out of ways to prepare, they packed and unpacked the baby’s hospital bag night after night. Sometimes, when no one was watching, the almost-mom would lay a little sleeper in the crib and imagine she could see the baby lying there. And in those moments, her heart would ball up in uncomfortable knots which turned out to be just tiny previews of the onslaught of emotion that was about to blast through the walls of her formerly-peaceful world.

On May 31, 1987 the baby was born; six days late and 27 years early. Those gathered in the hospital to welcome her to the world were quick to point out the likeness between her and her father. The mom could see it too, and it made her love her all the more. The baby was named Whitney (after no one) and Ellen (after the best woman the mom had ever known.)

The baby grew and laughed a lot. She loved people – ALL people – to a dangerous degree and the parents feared she would one day just climb in some nice family’s minivan because they had a cute dog and popsicles and that would be the last they would see of their little blonde girl. She had an amazing gift for remembering things and kept a running list in her head of all the people she knew with the same names. “That’s two Frank’s” she said one day after realizing the usher who gave her candy at church had the same name as a neighbor. When she was 3, she met our friend Steve Carpenter and was excited to have found Jesus’ brother…because He was a Carpenter too.

The baby grew into a girl who laughed and loved a lot. And she worshiped. When she was five, she worshiped so exuberantly in church that the parents had to determine to not be embarrassed by it. They got used to people telling them her worship was beautiful.

The girl grew into a young lady who laughed and loved and worshiped a lot. And also cried. And struggled to fit in and find her way. Her steady and solid personality became more vulnerable and wobbly with the dramatic entrance of adolescence. She watched and worked to maintain sanity in the midst of the silliness. She watched and wept over the condition of the generation around her. She watched and wished and sat alone.

The young lady grew into a woman who worked a job faithfully and loved Jesus passionately. Her world stabilized as truth sustained her. And then she fell in love. She fell in love with a boy who realized that behind the beautiful face lived some very deep water and a lot of hidden treasure. The boy realized what the mom had known all along and for that, the mom decided to love the boy too.

The day of the wedding, as At Last played, the mom remembered all the days from the empty sleeper in the empty crib to the extravagant worship to the sitting alone. And she cried a little, but gave thanks a lot that the baby who showed up 27 years early had become her dearest friend.

Happy Birthday, Whit. I love you,



Dip = a bad moment, event or occurrence in the course of a day.

Ditch = a series of bad moments, events or occurrences that create an environment or a even a whole season of discouragement.

Recently, I’ve been finding that every single 7-day week – even the best week EVER – contains a certain number of dips. The car won’t start, the plumbing breaks, people do dumb things that hurt my feelings, Starbucks gets my order wrong – seriously, just about anything can be a dip. Dips aren’t at all rare and they’re not necessarily a big problem emotionally except when they all pile up on top of each other and create a legitimate ditch. Man, I hate ditches. They’re mean. And ugly.

How many dips does it take to make a ditch? In my experience, that answer is entirely up to me. The older I get, the more aggressive I am in my attempts to move through dips because I’ve discovered that escaping a ditch is stinkin’ hard work. That’s the place where wheels tend to spin and ruts get large and the view from a ditch is almost exclusively of the…ditch (and the only person stuck in the rut with me is me and that’s never good). Often times, the main road is not that far away, but it’s enough out of sight that all hope is lost for every traveling fast and free again.

The past two weeks have been filled with all kinds of dips and I’ve been trying extra hard to learn to move quickly out of them. On Saturdays (the day I set aside time for self-evaluation), I almost always discover that the net result of the week was pretty great. When I’m able to look at the whole picture, I see that God is still good and He was with me through the hard stuff and in fact, usually has turned it into something good. It’s hindsight that enables me to see His hand working behind the scenes, through the highs and lows. So, I’ve been asking Him to help me have hindsight ahead of time (heh). I want to maintain His perspective in and on the dips of life so they don’t turn into ditches. Amazingly enough, it’s working! And as I’ve begun to build this particular muscle in my mindset, I’m making a few discoveries about the things that get me emotionally sidelined. Later this week, I’m going to honestly share a few of them with you because they may help you see what trips you up as well.

But for today, my girl is still home, the sun is still warm, the ribs are cooking and I’m driving my life with the windows rolled down!

Happy Memorial Day,


A Discourse on Drunkenness

Posted: May 21, 2009 in Uncategorized

Do me a favor and forget for a minute that I’m a pastor. Just totally wipe that out of your mind because this is not going to be a theological discussion. While I think the theological angle is an important one, it’s not where I’m headed today. Today, I just want to be a mom.

I’ve read a lot of things in the past few years on why alcohol is or isn’t wrong for Christians. I’m just one person, but I don’t think it’s very complicated (so, okay – this is a little bit theological). I think that the Bible is clear that words can give life or death, and sex can be divine or destructive. Like both of those things, alcohol is meant to be kept inside strong boundaries or it will kill something: potential, relationships, people, reputations. I’m not anti-alcohol (though I respect those who are) because I don’t think the Bible is…but I do think the Bible is astoundingly clear on the dangerous consequences of drunkenness (i.e. alcohol use that impairs good, wise & godly judgment) and I think that too few Christians – especially young adults – take it seriously.

It’s been interesting to watch the Church as a whole move away from a prohibition mindset. It feels to me like maybe we’ve shifted  too far and now our motives have moved from liberty to entitlement, which will always eventually circle back around to bondage. Today, my whole and complete agenda is to plead with Christians to say an absolute and positive and complete and total NO to getting drunk – no matter what or when or why or how many people think it’s okay. Here are my reasons:

  1. I have never once seen a drunk person and thought, “Man, that guy is intelligent. So witty and clever right now. I wish I could be like him.” With no sarcasm or meanness intended at all, drunk people do stupid things.
  2. Overdrinking (even just a little drinking, in fact) makes you feel things for people you wouldn’t otherwise feel which makes you say and do things that you will regret later.
  3. It’s not a personal decision…it really isn’t. It’s a decision that effects everyone around you; even those you don’t know…


That’s our baby on July 4, 1988.

Yes, she is fine today. Yes, God protected us. Not my point. The point is, the guy who did this was drunk and didn’t mean to hurt my child – he didn’t even know my beautiful daughter. But he did know his beautiful daughters and tossed them in the car before he got behind the wheel. He was not arrogant with regard to his actions – he was very, very sad and paid a very high price. So once again I would like to say: drunk people have regrets – and it’s hard to undo what’s already done.

Memorial Day weekend is coming up and it is the single highest holiday for drunk driving accidents. Please be careful on the roads and please use caution if you drink. It’s sneaky business trying to regulate as you go, so set strong boundaries and stay inside them (want further definition on boundaries? Check this site.) I think we all can agree that of all the worthy things we would like to give to Jesus, good judgment is is certainly way up at the top of the list. Anything that throws a stick in the wheel of wise thinking is bound to limit our ability to bless Him.

I know this is bossy and not very “come together” – but I’ve been watching Church culture change and I’m concerned with what I’m seeing. I also know this is hard to read if you love someone who is stuck in a spiral of addiction they can’t get out of , but still it’s truth and I feel pretty passionately about it. I bet you do too.

Have a Safe and Wonderful Holiday Weekend,


P.S. If you look honestly at your life and think that you need some help with this issue, please contact your pastor…or me…or check out this website filled with resources.


Posted: May 19, 2009 in Uncategorized

Spring Tree

So, this is currently the condition of the tree that lives right outside my office/prayer room/mail storage room.  Right outside – flaunting its beauty first thing every morning as the sun rolls in and distracting me from my well-planned agenda (heh.)  The only problem with this tree – and it’s a minor thing, really – is that it only looks like this for about a week or so and then it goes back to regular treehood and stays that way until November, at which point I get sad as I watch the leaves fall and write things like this.

I’ve traveled quite a bit this spring and been to a lot of churches and conferences.  The question everyone is trying to answer is:  how do we survive seasons like the one that we’re in right now?  I’ve heard awesome ideas and great preaching on that subject and I’m glad the church is addressing it.  But having listened and read and prayed, my own personal final answer to How Do We Survive Dry Seasons is: the same way we survive abundant seasons.  We stay faithful.  We love Him.   We dig deep roots by sweet water.

And then, we wait.

While the blossoms are beautiful,

And as they start to fade.

When they fall to the ground

And the sun is hot

And the days are long

When the storm rolls in

When the branches sway,

and bend,

and sometimes even break.

We will not be moved.

Not by storms or success or famine or peril or sword or triumph or beauty or pain.  His love remains steady and unyielding and so will trees, planted in the river of His presence.  And Psalm 1:3 says something that I have decided to believe with an audacious sort of faith:  “Everything he does shall prosper.”    As sure as God is God, spring will come.

Oh, I just love spring!


P.S.  Thanks for the picture, Tess.  I love you at least as much as you love your new camera!

I discovered these amazing facts recently while having dinner with the lovely Katie and Noel.  Thank you, Katie and Noel,  for helping me on the path to destiny.

  • President Obama is our 44th President. 44th President

I will be 44 this year.

  • President Obama’s dog’s name is Bo.

Obama's Dog Bo

MY name is Bo!

  • President Obama lives in the White House.


Do you know anyone whiter than me?  Anyone?  Nope, I didn’t think so.

  • Michelle Obama has amazing triceps.

Michelle ObamaI have always wanted amazing triceps!

Spooky, isn’t it?  Clearly, this adds up to something great.  I’m not entirely sure what just yet but I’ll keep you posted.

This week:  back to blogging!

With great anticipation for what lies ahead,


P.S.  This post does not constitute a political endorsement of any kind.  It does, however, endorse working out and spring visits to Washington D.C. because the trees are really beautiful that time of year.  It would also like to toss in an endorsement for resisting the urge to dress your dog like a tourist in Honolulu but feels that would be mean-spirited.  Thank you.  The end.

Rain on the Roof

Posted: May 3, 2009 in Uncategorized

This past weekend I had the joy of speaking to the state contingency of Assembly of God women as they met together for their conference at Bethel Church in Medford, Oregon. Such a dynamic and READY group…oh, it was sheer DELIGHT to be with them and share the Word together. Joy, I tell you!
So, not only were the ladies extraordinary, the worship phenomenal, the prayer anointed and the food outrageous, (as if all that wasn’t enough to send a girl into a love coma) I also had the cutest and most incredible CHAUFFEUR I have ever seen! Yes, my beloved was able to go with me this time and we even stayed an extra night just to soak up a little couple time. I was done with conference stuff by 4:00 on Saturday and we had so much fun taking a nap, spying out a new restaurant, watching a movie and just being together without kids. Marvelous.

I generally have a hard time sleeping in hotels. But last night when I fell into bed, rain was just starting to fall. Had I been alone it would have felt lonely, but since Steve was there with me it was totally comforting and cozy. Isn’t that funny how circumstances can so easily steer our emotions? I actually have nothing more profound to say about that. It’s just interesting.

So, in 10 days I will conclude the busiest 40 days of my life. It’s been remarkable and I wish I had time to tell you how much has happened and how faithful our Jesus has been through this season of sickness and stress and much, much speaking. His love and faithfulness has just been outrageous to me and I’m so thankful to Him.

Again, nothing more profound to say except I am also so SO thankful for you.

Wishing everyone someone with whom to share the rain,