Thoughts on Holiness

A few weeks ago, we hosted a casual-but-niceish lunch for some friends and family.  We love hosting, and I spent a few days doing what you always do before people come over: cleaning. Toys were put away, bathroom wiped down, dining room table set with my prettiest spring dishes and centerpieces.

The downstairs looked great.

Then, during the lunch, a friend of mine needed to see our {normally very picked up} bedroom. 
And I inwardly cringed {although happy to let her use what she needed to}.

There was a load of clean laundry tossed on the floor, my usually-made-bed had the covers askew, a few random coffee mugs on my night stand, my make-up from that morning scattered on the vanity. It was completely the opposite of guest-ready, and I cringed with embarrassment!


Throughout this entire year of reading through the Bible, the Holy Spirit has been impressing upon my heart over and over again the need to be holy; the need to be careful with how I live; the need to strive after holiness, to carefully follow all of the commandments.

And after my friend saw our bedroom and I inwardly cringed, promising to clean it up and show her the "real" version, my heart realized:

Are there any areas of my life that are like that hidden bedroom?

you know, the downstairs of my life looks pretty good:
we're almost always at church, I do my best to study my Bible daily, I attempt to memorize scripture and practice other patterns of spiritual growth and have the downstairs areas {the outward, very visible areas} of my life pretty picked up.

But what if a friend wanted to see that master bedroom area of my life? 
or, even worse, that random guest room closet that stuff gets tossed in?

How embarrassed would I be if a friend saw *those* areas?
The hidden habits like a way-too-critical spirit? the times I lose my patience with my kids? the service opportunities that became duty to me instead of delight?

What about those areas? How holy are they?

In 2 Samuel chapter 5, there's a small little area of David's life that he neglected, that perhaps the scrolls of scriptures had been pushed aside for a little too long.

David has a great goal - he wants to move the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem. However, he chooses to ignore the very specific, very Divinely-given directions on how to move that ark and decides to forego having the Levites - the priestly tribe - carry it. He decides to ignore that closet in his life, and believe that it will all be okay.

And yet because of his sin, because of his hidden closet, his friend Uzzah dies. David's friend paid the steepest consequence one could pay for David's personal sin.

I think we tend to think that we are able to keep some areas of our lives pretty hidden. The procrastrination-turned-laziness, the envy of a friend's life, the pride in even our church service, the tv show we should've turned off a little bit sooner, the edge of unkindness in a response to a spouse...

...but those hidden areas always come out, 
and heaven forbid they have the same consequences as David's did for Uzzah.

Is there an area of your life right now that you'd be embarrassed about if someone knew? The Holy Spirit has been gently showing my heart the need to clean out those bedrooms and even the closets, and to truly strive for and work towards holiness.  And yet, even in the weight of this truth, the conviction that will come, there's so much Divine forgiveness and cleansing and healing and power found in that cleaning-out process, thanks be to God.

David's story ends on a high note. Several months later David decides to truly bring the ark back to Jerusalem. And this time?  No hidden closets are lurking.  David says, "we did not seek him according to the one but the Levites may carry the ark of God." {I Chronicles 15} And with triumphant victory, the presence of the Lord  - manifested through the ark of the covenant - is restored to Jerusalem.

I want the story of my life, too, to end on a high note. The next time a friend needs to see my master bedroom, here's hoping it'll be wiped clean, wiped clean by the progressive sanctification only found through the work of the Spirit.

I hope your master bedroom, your hidden closets, will be wiped clean, too.


Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart...

Four Years Ago, Today

I'm thankful for multiple sclerosis.

those words made me pause, mid Windex-wiping the patio doors.

my heart skipped a beat.

really? that thought had surprised myself.

grateful for multiple sclerosis?

And yet, yes.

an oh-so-grateful,

grateful for multiple sclerosis.


we crossed the line of demarcation in our lives four years ago today.

my life is forever marked as 

from four years ago?
the memories are vivid:
the MRI machine seemingly cold, sterile;
 taunting me with the possibilities.
hearing the words:{indicative of multiple sclerosis}
from my doctor's mouth.
my immediate shock,
the whirlwind of neurological testing,
the panic-ridden months that would ensue. 

the friends that would call, write, text. mail coffee gift cards, drop off food. send flowers.
that would talk to me late into the night, as I was awaiting test results.

the memories are vivid:
awakening in the night,
instantly alert.
 my first thought was always 
{it wasn't a dream. it wasn't just a dream}
and then the anxiety would follow,
over and over,
the same instant-awake-panic.

it wasn't just a dream.

the other memories are vivid as well:

very, very early mornings with my hard-cover, vintage-floral Bible open before me,
the mug of coffee steaming as I poured over the pages,
 searching for answers...searching for help, searching for hope.

the memories are vivid:
those gilded-pages coming to life before my eyes,
bringing spiritual life in my heart,
calming my fears,
giving me so much hope and so much strength and so much faith
in a God, a Redeemer, a Savior,
so much bigger than any of my fears.


four years later?

I stand in awe at the Sovereign Hand of God in my life.

humbled that He would allow me to walk a road such as MS,

compelled to want to walk that road well.

I am thankful for multiple sclerosis.
it opened my eyes to see 
the bigness, the greatness, the sovereignty, the providence, the faithfulness, the compassion
of our God,
in a way that I never would have seen without a degenerative neurological diagnosis.

I am thankful for multiple sclerosis.

it allows me to fear less for the future,
knowing the One who holds it.

I am thankful for multiple sclerosis,
for the Lord used it in my life to draw me to Himself.

and that is always a gift.
don't get me wrong.
there are days that I wish my fingers would work completely,
or other symptoms would go away forever.
but the symptoms always remind me of the God I serve,
that His grace is always sufficient, 
and that nothing has gotten to my life without first going through the filter of God's Sovereignty.
and that gives so much comfort, and so much confidence.
multiple sclerosis was the road the Lord thought would be the BEST option for my life.
how can I argue with that?
the Lord has prepared good works in advance for me to do.
may I do them well,
especially in walking the road of MS.
To God be the Glory,
great things He hath done.
great things, even in neurological diseases.
great things He hath done,
...they loved not their lives, even unto death...
revelation 12:11

Paul's Ephesians Prayer

If you've been a Christian for any time,
I'm sure you've had the same experience I have in the {prayer request} arena -
you know, that time when you're in a group and the leader asks "what can we pray for?"

my co-worker's cousin has some medical issues.
my great-aunt fell and broke her hip.
my baby's not sleeping.
work is a lot right now.
Safe travels this weekend for my family.

y'all, I know that there's a time and a place for these kind of requests.

and I know there's a certain mystery in prayer...
a mystery that the God of this Universe, 
the God of Angel Armies, 
has chosen prayer as our way to fight that schemes of the Evil one...
the way to 
enter His presence 
to receive mercy and grace in our time of need.

I think it's partly the mystery around how-in-the-world prayer works
that makes us diminish the power of it, 
ignore the purpose of it,
and lower the prevalence of prayer in our lives.

have you ever felt like 
{al}l I'm doing is praying?
that is a lie straight from the Evil one


early in the morning, 
my coffee cup full,
my hard-cover full-sized notebook opens.  
scrawled notes stare back at me.
my thoughts on ancient truths, I will my heart to absorb as much as it can,
whispering prayers as I humbly come before Him.

Opening my wide-margin, vintage floral Bible to Ephesians,
inspired words are about to challenge my own prayer life.

Paul, writing through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,
prayers that God, the Father of all glory,
will give them wisdom  
{an objective understanding, as in, factual knowledge}
and that God would reveal 
{unveil, uncover}
knowledge of HIMSELF to the Ephesians church.

Paul prays that we would personally, intimately, know the God of the Universe.
in the still of the morning,
I got chills.

God will reveal Himself to us! 
humbling to the core of my being.

Paul is praying that GOD would reveal Himself to these Ephesians believers, 
that they would KNOW
- with a subjective understanding, a deep-down-in-their-heart kinda know -
the hope to which He has called them.
hope is our absolute certainty of victory in God.

Paul prays that
that they would KNOW the riches of His inheritance,
and KNOW the immeasurable greatness of His power -
that the SAME power God raised Christ from the dead is working in OUR lives.

That's what Paul was praying for.
That we would KNOW God HIMSELF better,
and that we would KNOW with all certainty, God is WORKING in our lives,
working in tremendous ways, and that we have ultimate victory in Christ.

{i can't think of any better thing for which to pray}.

because, you know?
as God is revealing His heart to me, 
and I become certain of his power in my life,
that kind of trumps all other prayer requests. 

Let's pray big, Biblical prayers for our friends and brothers and sisters in Christ.  I wonder what would change in our churches, our families, our communities, if we begin to regularly pray that God would reveal more of Himself to each of us.

{That's a prayer I can't wait to see answered}.

You know how in the beginning of lots of Paul letters he says he "in his prayers"?
that could potentially be a reference to the Jewish custom of specific prayer times -
kind of like Daniel prayed specific times of the day.

Do you have a specific pattern, routine, habit 
in which you're praying for your brothers and sisters in Christ? 
Maybe set a reminder on your phone...pray while you're driving...pray in the shower. Go through your Facebook list and pray as you scroll.

just pray. Big, Biblical prayers. that we may KNOW HIM better.

to the praise of His Glory.

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love[f] toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places

Ephesians 1


Ephesians 1

i really love summer days. and, though I often grieve my kids not-being-so-little anymore,
I will say, ages 6 and 8 are good ages.
I can say stuff like "go get your swimsuits on", and, well, they DO. ;-)

 last week, during one of these fun summer days,
 a casual play-date turned not-so-casual.
and I learned my lesson:
never NOT wear my swimsuit to the pool with the kids.


I just started reading through and studying Ephesians with a friend,
and chapter 1 has my heart overflowing. 
the selection of the Father, the sacrifice of the son, the seal of the Holy Spirit...
just 14 verses hold such deep theological truth.
truth as in, 
we have been predestined.
Predestined = marked out before hand.
before the foundation of this world -
before the beginning, there was a beginning, and we were chosen. Chosen to be adopted as sons through Christ. nothing we have done, nothing we could ever do - 
just His supreme sovereignty chose us.

In that predestination, we have been redeemed and forgiven.
Redeemed has the language of slave trading - we have been traded from a life of sin, a life of slavery to the bonds of that sin, to sons and daughters of the Almighty King, with an eternal inheritance.

we have been redeemed.


Last week, at that playdate, our kids were happy and playing.
my sweet 6-year-old went to the shallow end, 
and that's where my mistake happened.
sure, sweetie, you can take your floaties off.

the floaties always stay on. 

she happily played in the shallow end.
then she and a friend decided to hang on to the edge of the pool and work themselves around the perimeter. the perimeter of the pool, including the deep end.
  about 20 feet away, I yelled to her -
you don't have your floaties on! hang on to the edge.

I turned my head and then a second later turned back to her,
and all-in-an-instant my 6-year-old is in the middle of the deep end,
arms swirling above her head, eyes wide.
I am instantly at the edge.
Grace! come to the edge! 
her eyes bigger, simultaneously gulping air and water, barely afloat,
she shakes her head at me. 
She can't get to the edge.

and with out a second thought,
without thinking about whether or not my phone is in my pocket or not,
or if I should take my fairly-new-probably-shouldn't get-chlorine-on-it white cardigan off or not,
I am in that pool.
I am in that pool fully clothed, 
not caring about anything except for the fact that my precious girl cannot get her head above water.
my arms circle around her, pulling her up.
she coughs and then cries.
she's scared.

so scared that she didn't get off my lap the rest of the time at the pool. she was the first to leave the pool, the first to get her swimsuit off, the first to sit on my lap during dinner.  She wanted her momma's reassurance.  
and her momma needed her precious girl close, too. 
took me a full evening to calm down from that close call!

and as I read Ephesians and read REDEEMED,
I imagine the God of the universe, standing by the edge of that pool for my own life,
and before I even realized I am drowning in my spiritual state,
He jumped in. He didn't even blink an eye, didn't check to see if there were any other better prospects to save...He jumped in my pool,
and rescued me from my spiritual drowning.

to the praise of His glorious grace.

and now, my heart begs me to ask,
am I living like this?
am I living like I have been redeemed?

Or am I inching my way back around the perimeter of that pool, seeing how close I can get to the deep end of sin  - without fully drowning...
not knowing that that deep end is  pull me under before I can do anything about it, and I will soon be gulping and gasping for air?

am I living like I have been redeemed? forgiven? bought with a price? Am I so sensitive to the Spirit's leading in my life? Am I so sensitive to sin that my be lurking?

am I living like the God of Angel Armies jumped in after me? 

Am I the first person to cling to my Abba Father, not wanting to leave His side, 
but feeling safety in His presence?
I hope so.
I hope you are, too.


if you'd like to follow along, grab your Bible and study Ephesians 1 this week! come back and comment...I'd love to read them and see what your thoughts are.


Happy 6th Birthday, Grant

this blog started, long ago, as just a simple way to keep my family (read: MOM) up-to-date with family stuff.

fun family stuff like birthday parties.

and, a couple of weeks ago, we had a very special birthday party for my favorite just-turned-6-year-old.  i may be a couple weeks behind, but never late than never, right?
so, let's play a little blog-world re-wind here.

6 years ago, 
i sat in a hospital bed,
not knowing how soon grant owen's arrival would become.

in a last-night-of-no-kids,
matt and i shared a dinner of all my favorite pregnancy foods-
mexican enchiladas, 
panera's cheese danishes, 
and coldstone creamery's cheesecake icecream.

we stayed up late in the hospital room talking.
overflowing with the excitement and feelings of having a baby soon.

and then,
in a whirlwind of emergency and emotion,
grant owen entered the world.

{to my son}

you are my favorite little boy.
if i could hit pause on this journey of life,
i would have you be 6 for a long while.

every day, you become more of your daddy
his logic,
his dependability,
his even-keeled temper.

you are your father's son.

last week,
when the fan in your room started making noise,
you decided to open the dresser drawers to change the air flow to see if that helped the fan.


you, my son,
discussed {air flow}.

those engineering genes of your dad's?
they run strong, apparently.

     every day,  you are your father.

i love it.
i love seeing your mind in work.
i just pray that as much as you inherit that engineering DNA,
you also have your father's love for our Abba Father.
your father's absolutely dedication to living a life worthy of the calling.

Happy birthday, Grant.
May you seek Him all the days of your life. 

Father's Day

Our 8-year-old has been taking karate lessons for the past several months.
one of my favorite lines that the instructor repeats often is this:
we only use these moves for self-defense. Never to fight, and never on siblings. ;-)

Grant's earned his way up 3 belts, and we've seen in build confidance, self-control, and coordiantion -
all good qualities for an 8-year-old-boy to improve upon. 

Last week I had a conference with one of the instructors during classtime to talk about how we've seen Grant improve, and to inform me of the future class options.  As we started the conference the Sensei asked me several questions about Grant, and then we got to this one:

What kind of man do you want Grant to grow into in the future,
 and how do you think martial arts could help that?

as I paused, I saw Grant out of the corner of my eye round-house-kicking and forward-lunging through the two-way-mirror, 
and I all-of-a-sudden bit back tears in that small, humid karate office.

for as my heart and mind flash-forwarded Grant to the man I'd like him to become,
I realized there's nothing I'd rather him be than a man like his Dad is.  

I envisioned Grant loving his wife and his family with an unswerving, unshakeable loyalty and love, just as Matt has done for us.  I envisioned Grant full of integrity...that that man that people will know the adult Grant to be will be the man that he is in private.  My heart envisioned Grant being rooted and built up in the Word of God, and fervently and steadfastly preaching and teaching that Word, proclaiming His glory for all to hear.  

I bit back my tears in that karate office, and told the Sensei I wanted Grant to love his God, his wife, and his family well, an answer I'm sure that instructor did not see coming.

But there's no other answer I'd rather have for the question of 
What kind of man do I want Grant to be?
than a man just like his daddy.

Happy Father's day to the man who points us all to Him.
we love you so much, Matt! Thanks for loving us so well.

January 10, 2007, the day that made Matt a dad.

Just Because He Lives

Writing is often my therapy.
and, okay, coffee, candy, and some shopping, too.;-)
I sit down at the keyboard, with a steaming cup of strong coffee,
and the words that are often so hard for me to verbalize come flowing out,
flowing from a deep, deep place in my heart that often begins in the dark, early morning hours with my coffee and my Bible.

I know I said here I'd be writing.
 I've wanted to,
but have hesitated.

I never ever want to sensationalize my health difficulties.  or write about them so many times that y'all are like, anna, get a new neurological disease to talk about. ;-) 
but, as Luke says, 
from the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.
and how does my heart overflow with what *He* has done for me!
i can't help but share.

Share how faithful our Sovereign Lord has been there to meet me in 
every.single.moment of fear, of questions, of uncertainty over the last three years.

some Easter decor on my mantle reads
{I know my Redeemer Lives}
and my heart skips a beat when I read it.

three years ago,
when the line of before-MS and after-MS had officially been crossed in my life,
and we had been catapulted into a whirwind of every-single-neurological test possible, all leading towards a diagnosis.
 we got closer and closer to Easter.
 and I got closer and closer and closer to the darkest fear of my heart being realized.

it was within these months of waiting that I would jump in the middle of the night,
instantly awake, heart racing.

all I would hear with every beat of my pounding heart was 
multiple sclerosis
thud thud thud thud
multiple sclerosis multiple sclerosis multiple sclerosis.

and my first thought of my racing brain would be
{it wasn't a dream}.

And then I would be up for the day, in the wee hours of the morning, while the rest of my house slept in seemingly blissful unawareness.  it was these months that my internet was permanently fixed to MS research - AND what-could-my-symptoms-be *besides* MS research, and while my Bible was permanently open to Job, the tear stained pages greeting me morning after morning after morning.

we had test after test after test,
all coming back within normal limits.
expect tests pointing towards the one thing my heart feared.

and we got closer and closer to Easter,
and my heart raced with fear.
 all-encompassing, all-consuming fear.

and then through a series of scriptures,
the Lord addressed of my fears.
not giving me any answers,
but telling my heart to stop asking why and start asking Who.
Who is going to fight for me?
Who has done great things for me previously in my life?
Who has planned my days from the foundations of the earth?
Who has promised me to never, ever forsake me?
Who is going to walk with me, even if I am not walking?

And as the Lord addressed my fears, we got closer to Easter Sunday.
And my heart started singing the old song I always sang 
growing up in my Baptist church on Easter Sunday:
Because He Lives,
I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives,
All fear is gone.
Because I know, who holds the future,
and life is worth the living, just because He lives.

And singing that song leading up to Easter Sunday brought me to my knees before a Holy God,
knowing that through His Son's Resurrection, Death was conquered.  And in conquering death, He brings abundant life, even in the face of neurological disease.

hallelujah, the stone was rolled away! hallelujah, the tomb was empty.

three years later,
my heart races with fear much less frequently.
relapses or symptoms getting worse may remind me of that fear,
but they remind me oh-so-much-more of How He has conquered death and fear,
and my life is worth the living, just because He lives.

i have hope for now, and so-much-more-hope for eternity, just because HE lives. 
even if my MS becomes debilitating in *this* life, how-much-more will my glorified, perfected body mean to me as I am finally able to walk upon streets of gold, face-to-face with my Savior, my body never again stained with the sin of this world?

hallelujah, the stone was rolled away! hallelujah, the tomb was empty.
And three years later I'm still singing 
- and even 30 years from now, if the Lord grants me that - 
may I still sing with the army of angels - 
Because HE lives,
I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives,
all fear is gone.
Because He lives -
even with multiple sclerosis -
I can face tomorrow.

Just because He lives.


another of my favorite Easter songs.