Here’s that darn “s-word” again…

Here’s that darn “s-word” again…

Considering the human tendency to “need to know”, and living by the clock, or calendar (guilty as charged), I’m willing to bet more than just Laura could benefit from these words today…

“You will not find My Peace by engaging in excessive planning: attempting to control what will happen to you in the future.  Just when you think you have prepared for all the possibilities, something unexpected pops up and throws things into confusion.  I did not design the human mind to figure out the future.  That is beyond your capability.  I crafted your mind for continual communication with Me.  Bring me all your needs, your hopes and fears.  Commit everything into My Care…”

(Jesus Calling devotional, Sarah Young, September 17th).

Let me guess…I’m right, aren’t I?  You needed that too?  Or, if not right this moment, rest assured…you will.

Surrender is, and always has been, the most difficult thing I’ve regularly had to do in my life.  (Apparently the “responsibility gene” comes as a free bonus, especially being the oldest of five children, even when you don’t “rush to call now” for the deal!)  :)

As just little people in the vast family-of-Christ, we should continually remind each other of God’s Faithfulness.  It’s so vital, particularly as we begin to peek ahead beyond the pages actually being turned by Him…because Heaven knows, we WILL attempt to skip chapters in an effort to catch a glimpse of how the story ends.  (Incredibly ironic considering the pages between are where some of our greatest treasure lies, isn’t it, friend?)

It seems one of the most helpful tips for me to live by is this…while there are moments it appears we’ve got things somewhat “figured out”, if not constantly changing (and at times, a little shaken & unnerved), we’ll remain stuck, and no different than the person we were a day, week, month or decade ago. And let’s be honest, people, other than perhaps a few wrinkles, some weight gain, thinning hairs and a couple less heartbreaks, who really wants to stay the same over this life?  What a waste of time, space and energy we would be!

While earthly unknowns drive my innate thread to organize, control and plan what’s happening, or what lies ahead, up a mountain, off a cliff and then, plummeting into a canyon at times, I’ve undoubtedly learned in my 41 years…no matter what, THIS TOO SHALL PASS.  And the reality is, it will pass whether I choose to plan out or surrender regardless!  Honestly, though not completely sure how other than just because I “had to”, I’ve come to believe, even as I truly don’t know what “it looks like on the other side”, clinging to Him, everything will somehow be ok in the end.

Yes, it will probably get a little messy, and at certain times, lie in a heartbreak amass with profound pain, loss and ache seeming inconsolable.  And if we don’t grasp onto God to guide us through the more-challenging, stretched-way-beyond-our-comfort moments, our path will most assuredly be harder than He ever intended for us.  Yet I have to believe, after surveying the wonder of His Love for this broken girl throughout these past few years, it is in the surrender of my expectations, the search for His Will, and the commitment to do as I’m asked in the waiting, where I will find the greatest peace in who He intended Laura to be from Day One.  Still better yet, reviewing all the unexpected, unplanned and unfathomable joy He’s shown me throughout such seasons of chosen, deliberate obedience…I can put down the planner (on occasion), breathe in His Stillness, release and confidently look forward to new, unforeseen moments of beauty, awe and way-beyond-me wonder He has lying just ahead.

But if you will, should you think about it, remind me…please remind me to stay on The Path, friend.  In return, because I believe I’m asked to do so during this season of my life, I’ll encourage you to stay on the path as well.  It is not by coincidence that we have found a kinship at this point along the way.  Plus, who knows?  Perhaps we’ll occasionally find ourselves laughing out loud, holding hands in the quiet, or belting out songs of worship with each other…those are the moments that make the previous struggle of surrender disappear, and you can see His Light shine brightest.

Looking forward to His future with you, laura

Stopped in My Tracks

The wind and waves surround me, and I’m tossed, feel like I’m drowning.  I am tired, I am weak, I need You here with me.

‘Cause I can feel the rising tide, but I don’t have the strength to fight.  I feel clouded and confused, I need You here with me.

In the chaos of the storm, I have drifted far, far away.  But I call out Your Name ’cause You are just a breath, a breath away.

Then through the shadows, Your light appears.  I’ve known You’re with me, but now it is clear.  I can feel You, Jesus all around.

Like sun on my skin, warm to the touch.  Here You surround me and I am held by love.  I can feel You, Jesus all around.

Now hope is rushing through my veins, with everything You’ve rearranged.  I am peaceful, I am brave when You’re here with me.

All my questions find their answers here.  When You come, You change the atmosphere.  I am focused, I am clear, when You’re here with me.

In the chaos of the storm, I have drifted far, far away.  But I called out Your Name ’cause You were just a breath, a breath away.

Then through the shadows, Your light appears.  I’ve known You’re with me, but now it is clear.  I can feel You, Jesus all around.  

Like sun on my skin, warm to the touch.  Here You surround me and I am held by love.  I can feel You, Jesus all around.

There is nothing in this world that will satisfy my soul like You do. (repeat)

Then through the shadows, Your light appears.  I’ve known You’re with me, but now it is clear.  I can feel You, Jesus all around.

Though the storm it rages, I won’t be moved.  I won’t be shaken, I’m anchored in You.  I can feel You, Jesus all around…

I Can Feel You by Jenn Johnson of Bethel Music

So, while my music-finder (aka my son, Logan) had worship music playing via YouTube, the opening lyrics of this song stopped me in my tracks.

I should have, most definitely could have, written this song.  (See previous post, titled “Redirected and Refocused” before you click on this song…the parallels are unbelievable.) 

Redirect & Refocus

Redirect & Refocus

Recently, a dear friend of mine helped to redirect my focus, energy and passion.  They may not have intended to do so, but they did nonetheless…and I am grateful.  Doors open and close continually in our lives.  So often, we’re “thrown for a loop”, crushed, confused or heartbroken when doors close and we’re unable to see possibilities in the closing.  This time, the door closing brought me unexpected peace, redirection and the green light to move forward.  In certain moments, clarity comes when doors close, and we can see God’s desire for our lives with a renewed focus.  And sometimes, through those doors that have now quietly shut behind us, we find ourselves and what’s truly most important to us.

I’ve heard over the past six months or so, whether in jest or criticism, that I am “addicted to Facebook”, post too much or put a priority on social media that shouldn’t be there.  I’ve been criticized for over-celebrating little things that “no one cares about”, and questioned for exposing too much of my personal life.  Yet, throughout the judgment, I’ve felt I’m doing what I should be.

Here’s why:

(1) Yes, loss, and confusion over it, has completely changed me. Guess what?  It usually does change people! In fact, I haven’t met someone who was thrown a major curveball that it hasn’t changed.  Loss is what grew my faith in Jesus Christ, my yearning for connection, and that “over-celebratory” activity I’m guilty of.  When you wish you could get moments back to be more present with someone, turn off the TV and sit together…When you would do anything to make peace with someone you loved over things that seemed so inconsequential (at the time) but then became part of your “baggage”…When you think about all the moments your family could have, should have, celebrated more… You learn how to make peace with the past, and you drive like heck in the present.  You hold onto every.single.moment. with your family and friends.  You see what is unimportant, making every attempt you can to clear it from your world.  And somewhere, somehow, you try and find the balance between being in the here and now, and knowing the hourglass sands are hauling passed you at record speeds.  You try to soak-in all the beauty of the moment, while seeking to find the next one.  And in this season, you drive some of your friends and family members a little crazy…because they don’t realize how much of a constant battle it can be.  When your experiences tell you, “don’t trust anyone”, or “this won’t last”, or “you will lose this too”…you fight against those demons to simply be present and live right now.

(2) Through my posts, whether too deep, too spiritual, too personal or too silly, I have received countless messages from so many people who have either had a great loss in life, or just feel the grief that comes with a life experience unplanned.  (Not all “loss” and “grief” is about someone physically dying…it is also about the moment you realize, “How the heck did I get here? And I’m scared to death of what’s next!”)  I’ve had old friends, renewed friends, and brand new friends write to me about how badly they needed to see a post I had written, or shared.  How much, even the silly little posts when I’m giggling at light moments, help them know they will “be ok”.  How much my sharing, many times with complete, painful vulnerability (that no, wasn’t my style before), have made them not “feel crazy”, or like they’re “losing it”. How the shout-outs and mini-celebrations posted remind them, when it seems the world is caving in, there is someone, something to acknowledge for it’s life-sustaining relationship to our hearts.

So, with that…I will continue to be myself, over-celebrating at times, acknowledging others’ impact in my life, and giving glory to Jesus Christ for all He has given me.  It isn’t meant as boasting, flattery or attention-seeking for the incredible people (and experiences, big or small) in my life.  It just seems too important to encourage one another, and cheer each other on in a kinda cruddy-at-times world.  I will continue to write for the people whom God places in my life throughout this season.  I know it is no coincidence I am here, and YOU are here.  It is ultimately because HE is here and guiding my focus back to where HE has intended all along.  

I have connected most deeply, and genuinely, with people whom understand how loss has impacted our lives. Hardly any explanation has been necessary between us, providing acceptance otherwise not found many places.  I’ve lived amazing moments alongside people who never thought they’d “be ok” again.  People I’ve never met before have told me through my sharing, whether in writing, singing or posting…they find hope.  (That really blows your mind because that kind of stuff is nothing but God, Y’all!)  I’ve had some of my most-trusted family and friends (my “cabinet”) speak into who I am, and who they see God making me into during a time in which I had no clue.  I even experienced Jen Hatmaker, one of my most favorite people on the planet, confirm a “calling” I felt God had placed on my heart early this year!

So what am I doing?  I’ll tell ya…I’m writing.  I’m singing.  I’m posting.  I’m celebrating.  I’m crying.  I’m jumping up and down like a fool on baptism Sunday.  I’m smiling from ear-to-ear.  I’m enjoying every moment I can.  I’m acknowledging God’s Work in my life.  I’m forgiving others who don’t “deserve it”, because neither do I.  I’m spending time with friends and family.  I’m stopping to enjoy my fireplace (and posting pictures of it).  I’m having faith in grace.  I’m attending almost every dinner with family & friends I’m invited to.  I’m living it up at every sports event (my sons & almost daughter-in-law), worship night, girls trip and coffee date I’m fortunate to be included in.  I’m walking out upon waters I have NO idea how I’ll stand on.  I’m refocused.  I’m leading small groups of women in being real and finding grace for ourselves.  I’m renewed.  I’m crying at every door that shuts, but then smiling and grateful for the possibilities it points me towards.  I am living as I should be.  And I am hopeful, through some little way, my life is a testimony of God’s Love for you.  It really is indescribable.

God, thank You for never giving up on me.  Thank You for always being right here alongside me, waiting for me to get out of the way.  Thank You for inviting me into Your Plans for my life again.  Thank You for changing me a little more everyday.  And thank You for not becoming so frustrated with my human mess-ups that You walk away from me.  I am holding on, and ready to take the next step because I know You are near.  In Jesus, amen

Tonight’s Prayer


Please help us through…

days when the sounds of chaos impersonate white noise,

evenings when the silence of stillness pierces,

moments when the loneliness makes open space claustrophobic,

and nights when the darkness never seems to give way to light.

Remind us You are near.

Show us Your Presence.

Comfort our hearts.

Point us toward Your Purpose for our lives.

Jesus, I come…



This is so true…just have to keep your head above water, stay as focused as you can.   

You will, WE WILL, come out stronger, wiser and more in touch with what really matters than we had ever imagined…and as a result, the change may prove lifesaving in the end. 


I am HIS Witness

Ok, so this maybe the most fragmented, confusing post I’ve written…bear with me.  (I have this amazing, spunky friend whom I had asked to hold me accountable in writing, no matter what was happening.  And she does, so here goes!)

The past two weeks have thrown quite a few curveballs at the family from which I came, and this family’s base-coach needed a bit to gather her thoughts.  At first, I responded to our family crisis in “big sister, protector mode”.  First mission – travel through the night with my brother to bring our adult siblings and their children closer to home.  Second mission – keep Christ at the forefront of everything I was doing, everything I said, everything I did, everything I thought.  (Yeah, that last one when you’re in “protector mode” can prove quite the struggle!)  I had no idea what it would entail, but I knew these were my two best attempts to help comfort, lift up and love my family.

Thing is, traveling through the night, on adrenaline and (ok, I’ll admit it) a gas station, salted pretzel isn’t enough to carry you…only God is.  My brother, Todd, and I talked faith, a love of Christ we are dependent on, and what we hoped for our family.  Not long into the ride, I thought we needed to armor-up; what better way for two worship-music loving vocalists than to crank up the mega-iTunes collection?  As we went into this unknown situation, I wanted so badly to be a light for my younger brother, a reflection of God’s crazy love, grace and mercy he was all too familiar with.  (While Todd fully believes in Jesus Christ, he has admittedly felt a hunger to be fed more regularly in a home church un-found since he relocated.  I hoped his heart would be abundantly full of Jesus through music he treasures.)  I ached to hear him sing lyrics he once did alongside me on a Sunday morning, seeing the beautiful surrender of Todd accepting Jesus Christ fully into his heart.  And then, I wanted him to listen to every, single new worship song I had heard in the past year or so (huge credit to my son, Logan, for always keeping the songlist fresh & alive).

Here’s the thing if you didn’t catch that…I wanted my brother to listen to I had loaded on my phone.  Folks, there’s no way the 5+ hour ride was long enough for such a lofty goal, yet I quickly realized, it didn’t matter. Todd and I would hear the songs we were supposed to, he would learn new lyrics and catch on quickly because his heart was hungry for them again.  God is so, so good, you guys. SO GOOD.

Fast forward, we got our family home.  Despite extreme exhaustion, we made it safely through the night, driving three vehicles with 5 adults and 5 little people…all because of prayer, I know that.  (Thank you.)  And then, some of us crashed…some for a few hours, some not until a few hours later, and some for a few days.  But we were doing this as a family, because part of being a family (whether by blood, marriage or faith) is allowing everyone to crash in their own time, according to their own needs.

After just a few hours, I awoke to a quiet house and time with God.  Time with God that gave me crystal-clear vision as to my role in our family now.  At forty-one years of age, after all the foolish choices I’ve made, sins I’ve committed, and grace I’ve received…my role was simply to be a witness.  I was to show love to those who were hurting and confused.  I was to hug someone’s neck, cry with them, pray over them, snuggle their kids, or just sing those worship songs I had come to learn and live.

And for one of the first times I can remember in my family’s history, I was at peace with letting go of my “big sister” duties…and simply being HIS Witness.  I was ok with knowing – when He says. “Ok, now you go back home, Laura”…I must go, and I would listen.  I was ok with reminding my siblings of God’s love for them being stronger than all the destructive words their minds were being bombarded with in this moment.  And shockingly enough, I was ok when I started driving myself back home to my little corner of the world, not feeling like I wasn’t doing enough…in fact, I was totally at peace.  And the very next day, more undeniable clarity came from Him.  (Note: If you haven’t had these kinds of experiences with God, and you’re thinking, “Wow, she is a total fruitcake!”…Well, you’re right.  I AM a total fruitcake, but this little brick of nuts and fruit no one can identify, is grateful to be covered by Jesus and not alcohol typically needed to make fruitcake go down! Thank you.)

So here’s the thing…I had no idea what I was doing, I just listened to Him.  I had no idea what I should say, I learned to be still.  I had no idea what I could “be” for my family, and I soon knew…I was BEING exactly who I needed to be.  I was being Laura, the older sister and aunt who loves them so deeply I prayed about everything, I prayed hard. I was being Laura who they had seen changed by Jesus Christ throughout her life.  I was being a reflection of all the good He can make of the ugliest, most sinister of bad.  I was being His Witness.  And I have found, over this past 13 days, that is exactly whom He wanted me to be.

Special note for historical references on the path, because God is just super cool in the details:

This morning’s message at New Community Church, given by our Lead Pastor Rob Tucker, was part of our “I Will” series based on Thom S. Rainer’s book.  Although I’m typically aware of the nuances Rob will preach on ahead of Sunday morning services as the Ministry Coordinator, this week I didn’t have the opportunity to hear the details of why he had scrapped and rewritten the message mid-week, how he felt his original sermon wasn’t right, and wasn’t feeling it was what God wanted him to preach on.  So, here I was, just gathering with my church family this morning, missing a few of my closest family and friends sitting alongside me, knowing Pastor Rob would undoubtedly preach on something I’d “need to hear” and be able to incorporate into my life.  And then, the first slide on the screen came up…

“I Will be His Witness”.

Message received, Lord, loud and clear.

Scripture references: Acts 1:8    I Corinthians 4:20; 10:31    Matthew 5:13-16

Thank You

I’ve been surrounded by an incredible group of friends helping me through the most confusing season of my life thus far.  This love is difficult to comprehend, much less find the perfect words to acknowledge; however, once in awhile, we all need to let people know how much they’ve touched our hearts…tonight is one of those times.

A few of my “most-trusted” have become family along the way, providing steadfast love through this unexpected mini-lifetime of change.  I can’t possibly express my gratitude for your unyielding patience, support and kindness as I attempted to navigate the waters changing from calm stillness to drowning waves in fractions of a moment.  I know this hasn’t been an easy season for you either, feeling both your own loss and witnessing mine.  (Keeping my head above the waterline has not been pretty, nor a job for the faint-of-heart, I know!)  I hope you know God chose you to be in my life at this time, and you have gone above and beyond.

I can’t imagine staying afloat without your perfectly-timed reminders of God’s Love and future plans for me. Sometimes, I just need someone I trust wholeheartedly to say, “It’s going to be ok”…even two-and-a-half years later as more life changes roll in, ones I didn’t foresee facing on my own.

Thank you to some of the greatest people a girl could ever hope to have in her life, through both the amazing and difficult times.  I’m blessed to have seen the beauty in both with you alongside me,  I sure do love you all.

Forever thankful, laura

Special acknowledgement page: Chris Mattix, the Madden family (Kent, Virginia, Michaela and Austin “Buddy”), Greg Rakes and the amazing people who’ve shared everyday life with me at New Community Church over the past two years. 10363759_10204559865940575_6846454504007800642_n 10505592_10207440800962150_1160100598160473668_n 11742754_10207082363281432_5083842674712943791_n

Ever Faithful

Little does he know (until now), New Community’s brand spanking new Pastor of Worship and Students, Matt French, has created a bit of a happy monster!  Matt introduced this song to our church family last Sunday morning, and it’s been on repeat in my heart ever since.  (You rock, Matt!)  The words couldn’t possibly be more fitting for my life right now, as everything seems to be anything but certain.

So, here I am, belting out this song at full volume this beautiful Saturday morning, and thought perhaps you’d like to join me?   (Hope the neighbors don’t mind harmony because Christy Nockels and I are bringing it!)  I don’t know about you, but for this girl…there is NOTHING like singing out in worship!  God is Good, ALL the time.❤

“We won’t move without You, we won’t move without You. You’re the Light of all & all that we need. The Lord our God is ever faithful, never changing through the ages. From this darkness, You will lead us…and forever we will say, You’re the Lord Our God!”