New Every Morning

As I reflect on this past year I am struck by the Lord’s sustaining love and faithfulness towards me personally. I have come to know the Good Shepherd in deeper ways than ever before. He speaks His tender love in our moments of greatest weakness. Truly His heart is gentle and lowly toward the weary and heavy-laden. He alone gives rest for our souls!

It has been a year of growth for all of us, physically as well as mentally and spiritually. My children are not only growing taller (they have almost all passed me in height!), but they are growing in their responsibilities. Adeline is 17 now and in Challenge 3 in Classical Conversations, which corresponds with her junior year in high school. She is thriving in her education and handling well the challenges of owning a car and having a part time job at our local BBQ restaurant. Jeremiah is 15 and is growing inches every hour. I have had the privilege of directing his Challenge B class this year in Classical Conversations (CC), and he is a freshman. He loves building things and he and Thaddaeus, along with their cousin, built a custom-made clubhouse on the property. Thaddaeus is in seventh grade and in Foundations and Essentials in CC this year. He’s doing great in his studies and plans to do memory master this year, which is a challenge of reciting almost 400 facts in various categories. All three of them have enjoyed learning how to ballroom dance together. Jason is a driver operator in the Woodlands Fire Department and last July completed ten years with WFD! The Lord has blessed us tremendously throughout those years. He is so faithful! Jason’s work load has definitely increased due to all of the protocols for COVID and he continues to work tirelessly without complaining, and truly brings the light of the gospel to a very dark world.

Another way our family has been growing is spiritually. However, spiritual growth is not something you can measure easily as you can the physical inches of your children’s height. I think it’s measured in tears and prayers. As a mother, so much of my prayer life is spent on my children’s spiritual health. I pour myself out for them. We have had opportunities to grow spiritually through a missions trip we took to Oaxaca, Mexico in the summer (my previous blog post was all about this time), through changes in our church home, and now through the possibility of entering the battlefield of adoption once again. I am not at liberty to disclose many details about our adoption journey online, but I would love to talk to you more about this over a cup of coffee! We covet your prayers and if you would be interested in being part of our prayer team, please let me know!

Towards the end of the year my mother’s health went downhill. She has had Parkinson’s Disease for 13 years now and she has been dealing with some concerning health challenges. I had the sweet opportunity to spend several days with her, caring for her over Christmas break. Please pray for our family during this challenging time.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness! Lamentations 3:22-23

May you remember the great love and mercy of our God this new year and may you be filled with a joy that can only be explained by the mighty strength of His Spirit within you!


the Browns

A Journey to Oaxaca

Jason and I stood in the cathedral built in the 1500s and beheld the medieval art on the walls with gold-leaf halos, the saints on the one side, and the many statues of Mary on the other. We made our way to the front and a man introduced himself and began to recount the history of the cathedral of San Pablo. He showed us the murals in the front of the church of Saint Paul, the apostle. How he was blinded and converted on the road to Damascus, how he recovered his sight, how he wrote letters to the churches, and how he was beheaded because of his testimony to Jesus. Yes, we were familiar with Paul. He then began to explain the customs of the people of Mitla, Mexico, the small, but ancient town in the state of Oaxaca. He described how before the Spaniards came with the good news of Jesus the people living there, the Zapoteco, had a way of life known as the Guelaguetza. In this philosophy there are two roads. One that leads to heaven and one that leads to hell. Those who do good go to heaven, while those who sin the big sins go to hell. The name of the town, “Mitla”, in the Zapotec language means place of the dead or gateway to hell. The philosophy of the Guelaguetza is one in which the people keep track of favors done for others. It is an exacting culture, where one must work for their salvation.

The sign outside of the church reads: “Mitla sacred city of the dead, the tomb is not final. The resurrection of Jesus.”

It is into this culture that we came for twelve days.

This year we invested in a family missions trip to Oaxaca, Mexico to visit our dear missionary friends, the Blyckers, to expose our children to life in another culture, and to serve others with the gifts the Lord has given us.

Looking like “gringos”.

One of our first experiences was to travel to a small mountain village named San Miguel. This village has a tiny church of 25 people, mostly Zapoteco. I had the privilege of hearing the story of its humble beginnings thirty years ago.

San Miguel in the evening.
We traveled an hour and a half into a tiny village in the mountains and served alongside the people of the only Christian church in San Miguel. We sanded the church benches all morning.

The ladies of the church made us a meal of mole after we painted and sanded at the church and we listened to the testimonies of the people.

Usually the women come to Christ first and pray for their husbands for years until they surrender their lives to Jesus. Many men struggle with alcoholism as Mezcal, a liquor made from the abundant agave plant, is available everywhere. A sad result of alcoholism many times is domestic violence. However, the power of Jesus freed several of the men in the church from their old way of life. Their testimonies of transformation had a profound effect on my children. Please pray that more of the men in this town hear the gospel and respond to Jesus!

Angela Blycker, Maximina, me, and Marina. Marina’s brother was the first to come to Christ all those years ago.

Shortly after our time in the village several of our children became sick and so that changed some of our plans for the week. One of the ministries Angela is involved with in Mitla is a girls’ club that reaches the young girls of the town with truth from the Word of God, crafts, food, and the opportunity to play in their yard (the only grassy spot in the area, due to the desert climate!) She and her daughter, Kiersta poured into these girls all year and taught them Psalm 23 and all about the Good Shepherd. She asked if I would share the gospel with the families at their last girls’ club, which I was honored to do. However, we had to push the get-together back because of sickness. At the time it felt like an attack from the enemy, and perhaps it was, and even on the day we had the party, it rained so much we had to use the local church facilities instead of the Blycker’s home. But God’s ways are always so much better than our own. What the enemy means for evil, the Lord uses for good. It was necessary that I had a few more days pondering the culture and way of life in Mitla because come Friday evening, the Holy Spirit empowered me with the wisdom to share the gospel simply and interactively and in a way that they could comprehend. I could absolutely feel the prayers that night. So thank you for praying! Several of the women prayed to receive Jesus! And because of the rain, the party was held in the church, and our prayer is that these families would feel comfortable attending services there. For many of these children and parents it was the first group meeting they have experienced since COVID shut everything down last year.

The girls and their families.

How can I adequately describe our twelve days there? It was a dream come true for me to take my entire family on a missions trip. To Mexico, which is one of the places I grew up and which has a deep, deep place in my heart. We were all stretched in our patience and love and self-control and upon our return found our little town of Madisonville so sparkling clean and nice, it blew us away. And HOT!! We were also overjoyed to be able to flush our toilet paper! We saw the Lord’s sovereign hand in the timing of our trip. We were supposed to have gone a year ago, but due to COVID our airline went bankrupt. Speaking of which, all of our COVID tests came back negative, which enabled us to get back into the States. So thank you for praying for that!

Here are a few other pictures of our journey to Oaxaca:

Oaxaca City. Tourist day.
Jason and Ben were able to give a teaching of a Walk Through the Old Testament to a rehab center and Jason shared the gospel there and several men prayed to receive Jesus!
Jason and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary with Ben and Angela.

We painted the outside and inside of Nancy’s house. (Nancy is the Blycker’s house helper. Their house had never been painted before.)
This is sweet Nancy. Her mother made the shirt I am wearing here.
Hiking with Thaddaeus.
Hiking with my dearest friend, Angela.
These gorgeous mountains are in the Blycker’s backyard!
Addie with one of the local artisans.
Jason and me. 19 years strong. I am so very thankful for this servant leader.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

Titus 3:3-7

What I Have Learned Directing Challenge A

I sit on our front porch, my favorite coffee cup in hand, reading the remaining few chapters of The Bronze Bow, the last book my students are to read this year. It’s raining and almost 3:00 PM and still my boys have not come in for lunch. The grating sound of the drill rings out over the pasture and I see them by the zip line, immersed in their work, unaware of the time. Their food is laying out in the kitchen, welcoming the flies, just as their school books wait on the table for them. A read aloud I have yet to do with Thadd, Latin to go over with JP. A meeting with Addie. They are working on a new fort they are building all on their own, with their cousin Justin’s help. They’ve already set the posts and built the platform and are starting on the frame. It’s good work. Impressive craftsmanship. And they are only fourteen and twelve!

I sigh as I finish a chapter. This book is so good and I have just three chapters left to read. I don’t want it to end. It hasn’t been this way with every book I’ve taught this year, but Elizabeth George Spear is a master of her craft. How she can write! She makes me want to take up my pen again from the long neglect and writer’s block. How I will relish the conversation my students and I will have on Tuesday about this piece of historical fiction.

This year is our third year with Classical Conversations, a Christian homeschool community that meets once a week to learn and interact with other like-minded individuals. It has been my first year directing a Challenge class, which is the upper level of the community, corresponding to Junior High and High School. My class consists of six students: four boys (one of which is my own son) and two girls, aged twelve through fourteen. They have six classes, or strands as they are called, consisting of Latin, Mathematics, Exposition, Science, Reasoning, and Cartography. We meet fifteen weeks in the fall semester and fifteen weeks in the spring. The kids come to class having already completed their work for the week and we meet for an entire day on Tuesday going over each strand and having rich conversations about them. I am a facilitator, among other things, with my main objective as a director being to engage them in the art of the dialectic. I help them to sort out all they are learning and to synthesize the information so that they can be equipped to learn how to think. The content that they learn is varied and difficult: translating Latin, drawing the entire world from memory, learning the art of persuasive writing, thoroughly engaging in the scientific method through a science fair. But the things that we are learning go so much further than mere academics. These children are learning how to listen to one another, how to have respectful conversations, and how to see the work of God in every area of life.

As I come to the end of a very rewarding and challenging year, here are a few take-aways:

  1. It is possible to learn Latin as a forty year-old.
  2. Some days are better than other days. Some days the conversations seem forced and trite, while other days, I am blown away by the Spirit-led moments and integrations.
  3. Prayer is of supreme importance. In prayer we wait in expectation of what God will do in the lives of those He has entrusted us with. I can do nothing on my own, but I am completely dependent upon the Lord.
  4. Junior-highers are absolutely hilarious and in need of constant correction. Whew! What a class!
  5. Asking good questions prepares the way for fruitful conversation. I am still learning this art.
  6. Rest is absolutely necessary. If I do not take the time to stop and to just be and to fill myself up with what is life-giving, I will have nothing of value to offer anyone.
  7. At the end of the day, what matters most is knowing God. The character of our students is far more valuable than whether or not they can decline a noun or draw the continent of Africa. The spiritual formation of these kids comes as they encounter the Living God for themselves. It is to this end that I strive. And it is a worthy goal.

It has been a good year and I am a bit sad to see the end, just as I am with the book I am reading. But, of course, I must finish both for there are more conversations to share, more topics to discover, more adventures to unfold.

The Good Shepherd

I went out looking for the cows at exactly noon on Good Friday, the time that Jesus was nailed to the cross. I had let them all onto the back pasture the day before because the grass was greener and longer on that side of the gate and we had run out of hay. Being content with the lush and tender spring grasses, none of them made their way to the barn this morning, except the horse, when I called them in for feed. I wasn’t worried about it, knowing they had their fill of grass. But at noon I was concerned that they might find the low part of the fence and hop over onto our neighbor’s property. So I went looking for them.

This is our sixth spring out here on the land and every time, the season dazzles me. In winter I forget what lies dormant and forgotten in the earth. Then the land awakens with a newness that always catches my breath and still leaves me dumbfounded that resurrection is possible following the cold and death of the prior season. The vibrant colors of the flowers, the welcome warmth of the sun, and the bright green everywhere awakens the coldest of hearts. Hope is possible. It is tangible.

As I’d see them in the woods, I’d name the cows one by one. Mocha, Jingle, Shalom. Bobby Sue, Jack, Little Rascal. Around the corner was King, the horse. In the top part of the pasture I found Sam and Charlie, then Sweet Baby Rae, then Squanto. There was Milk Dud. But where was Annabelle? I made my way across the creek a different way than I had come and saw a pitiful sight. Annabelle was lying in the creek. Her head was back and her body was sprawled out. She had a long vine of mesquite thorns wrapped around her body. Having three-inch long, vicious spikes, the kids call them the Jesus thorns. Eery does not begin to describe what I came upon.

I raced to her, knelt in the mud and water, and lifted her head up by the halter that was still on her. Here we go again, I thought. She is the same cow we have struggled with all year. I prayed a brief prayer for wisdom and, knowing I couldn’t lift her on my own, ran back to the house to get some help. I returned with my boys and my in-laws and I instructed them to get behind her and push her to a sitting position. With all of us heaving and pushing, we managed to get her to sit up and begin to get the air out of her system. I had no idea how long she had been down. Whenever she had gone down in the past, we have had to place straps around her and lift her with the tractor. But there was no way we were getting that tractor down the steep bank of the creek and lifting her safely. I Face-timed Jason from work and there wasn’t anything he could do . But, to our utter astonishment, right after hanging up the phone, Annabelle stood up! She got up with her back legs, pushed herself to her front knees, waited a while, and then stood completely up. It was another small miracle. Another resurrection of sorts. Another answered prayer for these animals that I have been entrusted with.

This is the creek where Annabelle was lying.
Standing next to Annabelle after she miraculously stood up on her own. Her right eye is terribly swollen from lying in the creek.
A new perspective of the shepherd’s staff. The boys used it to drive away the other cows from Annabelle’s feed so she could eat.

Leading up to this day, the Lord has been doing a deep work in my heart. I found myself dealing with deep grief from the past that I hadn’t completely worked through. It seemed to come from nowhere and hit with such a tremendous force that it startled me, really. I began to seek out close friends and ask them to pray for me as I worked through whatever this was. It turned out that what I was dealing with were lies that I believed about God. Lies that affected my relationship with Him. Lies that He was malevolent and uncaring. But as I repented of these lies and asked the Holy Spirit to give me the truth about who He really is, He gave me so many scripture passages that speak of His tender love and concern for me. My favorite one He gave to me was Psalm 103:14: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.”

My care for these animals grossly pales in comparison to my Good Shepherd’s love for me. His eyes are laughing as he watches over his flock. Over me. He loves me and I know it. He holds my hand and gently leads me along the way I am to go. He protects me and stands in my defense. I am his and he is mine. He went to great lengths to redeem me, laying down his life. The Shepherd becoming the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. My sins. And the sins of those who sin against me and against those whom I love. My Good Shepherd is the one who came to seek and to save that which was lost. He is the one who leaves the 99 sheep in search of the one that was lost. He came and he found me.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23


The morning before Christmas Eve I looked out my bedroom window to see a sight that had me running out the door immediately, pulling on the rubber boots on our old porch and rushing out to the middle pasture. Annabelle, our Jersey cow was laid out on her side, her head back, eyes rolled eerily. The dirt by her feet was trenched as if she had struggled for a while to stand. Jason was on shift that day and my boys were at their cousins’, so I hollered into the house for Addie to come and, in vain, try to help me do something.

Farming, like other things in life, is manageable and even easy-going when things run as they should. When animals are healthy you feed them and let them be and they do not dominate your every waking thought. But when things go wrong, everything changes.

When we first got Annabelle five years ago.

This wasn’t the first time Annabelle had gone down. Three weeks before she couldn’t stand right before she went into labor with her calf. We had to lift her four times with the tractor and actually pull the baby out. That night Jason and I lay awake struggling with God and pleading with Him to help her to stand. Jason checked on her about 3 AM that next morning and came into the room and told me he thought both baby and mama were doomed, as she was still on the ground. Some point during the watches of the night I had to surrender my cow to the Lord. But in the morning, I went out to check on them and at once burst into tears to see Annabelle up on her feet.

But that was three weeks ago. The day before Christmas Eve I contacted Jason, who told me to call the emergency number for the vet and, when I didn’t get ahold of him immediately, called my neighbors. Our cowboy neighbor just so happened to be available and came right over and helped get Annabelle up on her right side. We were pretty sure she had bloat from being down on the ground, which is a condition that could kill a cow if the air is not released from the cow’s stomach. Fortunately, she began to belch and sitting up as she was, looked so much better. The vet finally contacted me and came over to look at Annabelle. Everything looked okay, except that she was terribly skinny and very weak. But he did not seem hopeful. Normally if a cow does not stand up within 24 hours, they will die. My neighbors and I tried to get her to stand with the tractor that day, but she wouldn’t put any weight on her feet. It didn’t look good.

That night as I was saying goodnight to Jeremiah he said to me, “Mom, I don’t want Annabelle to die.” I looked at him and rubbed his back. My 14 year-old son was a lot bigger than he was when we moved out to the land five years before. Back then we knew nothing about dairy farming, but we plunged right in and each child would take turns milking with me twice a day.

“You know what I would miss the most if we lose Annabelle?” I asked him. His back was muscular and strong. “I will miss the mornings milking with each one of you kids, when the sleep is still in your eyes and you tell me all about the crazy dreams you had the night before.”

Jeremiah laughed. “Thadd was the one with the crazy dreams!” And then, quieter, “Mom, I don’t want to grow up. I don’t want to stop doing the same things I did as a kid.”

My heart surged and fresh tears came as I agreed with him, “I don’t want you to grow up either.” Already my children were growing out of their childish ways. I relished the thought of them remaining children, but I knew it is not meant to be. Things change. But this cow. How precious she would always be to me because of so many things. She was so gentle as she trusted us completely. Her milk literally nourished my family. And she bonded me with my children in a tender way nothing else could.

Christmas Eve 2015
October 2020

Jason came home the next day and successfully raised Annabelle to her feet using the tractor. Hence began one of the longest weeks we’ve had, caring for Annabelle and then another cow, who also decided to get weak and not stand. Jason lost out on two family Christmas get-togethers because he was caring for the cows. We would have to get Annabelle to stand, make sure the calf was nursing, give both cows ample food and water when they were down, shelter them creatively in the rain, and cover them and warm them in the cold. It has been laborious, but we are slowly seeing improvement in Annabelle and she is getting stronger every day. She has started to stand up on her own now, but isn’t out of the woods yet. Bobby Sue, our other cow, is still down.

Farming teaches me so many things about life. How absolutely dependent we are on God. How important it is to simply stand up. How precious life is. How vital hope is to the soul. That the mercies of God are new every morning. That His faithfulness is great.

As 2020 comes to a close, I am reminded again how very dependent we are upon the mercies of God. And how important it is to stand.

I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of the gruesome pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my footsteps. And He has put a new song in my mouth, a praise to our God. Many will see and hear and shall trust in the LORD. Blessed is the man that makes the LORD his trust. Psalm 40:1-5

Afraid? Of What?

At the beginning of quarantine, way back in March, I pulled out one of my favorite books and Jason and I began reading to our kids in the evening. The book, Safely Home by Randy Alcorn tells the story of Chinese Christian, Quan and his reunion with his long-lost American roommate, Ben. It highlights the truth of the Chinese persecution of the Christians under communism and depicts the true heroes of the faith who do not back down from proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, even at the expense of their possessions, families, freedoms, and even their very lives. It took us a while to read through as a family; we finally finished it in October! But towards the very end of the book, when Quan is in prison and Ben has just encountered his own transformation, a conversation between the two roommates gripped me.

Ben asks, “When you pray for me, what do you ask?”

Weary, imprisoned, but victorious, Quan tells his American friend, “That you will face persecution.”


“And that through it you will learn to grow. That you will learn to stand strong. That you will know you are in a war, and that you will learn to put on your armor and learn to use the sword of the Spirit, God’s Word.”

Christian persecution, in my experience, has always been something that happens on the other side of the world. In the Middle East, in North Korea, in China, in Africa. I never really thought it would come to America. And I, for sure, have never prayed for it! There are a lot of things I never thought would come to this nation, until this year. And persecution seems nearer than ever before.

There is an outright attack on the truth. Truth specifically in the Word of God. Scripture proclaims that people are sinful, not inherently good, that sexual immorality is wrong, regardless of the cultural justification for it, that marriage is sacred, between a man and a woman, that the earth was created in six days, that murder is wrong all the time, regardless of the economic circumstances. Those who hold to these views are considered archaic, hateful, stupid, and intolerant. I hold to the truth of the Word of God and it is vastly unpopular these days.

But these truths don’t just end there. They lead us to the cross, the greatest good that has ever come to this earth. There is salvation from our sins in Jesus Christ alone through faith! They also lead us to the acknowledgement that God is God and our response to Him must be worship and submission.

As Americans, who hold to the truth of the Word of God, there very well may come persecution. This is sobering. Sometimes very scary, if I’m honest. But we have not been called to fear. Just the opposite! For we know the end. As Christians, we fight from a position of victory because Jesus has already won!

As Christians, we fight from a position of victory because Jesus has already won!

What do I mean by fight? I mean we take up the weapons of our warfare: salvation, righteousness, truth, faith, the Word of God, the readiness of proclaiming the good news, and prayer and we go to battle against the true enemy. The spiritual forces in the heavenly realms.

Let the church arise with power and confidence in her task of fearlessly proclaiming the breathtaking news that there is salvation in Jesus. That there is hope in this desperate world. And let her always be looking forward to that day when the skies will part and her Savior will return.

Afraid? Of what?

To feel the spirit’s glad release?

To pass from pain to perfect peace,

The strife and strain of life to cease?

Afraid-of that?

Afraid? Of what?

Afraid to see the Savior’s face

To hear His welcome and to trace

The glory gleam from wounds of grace?

Afraid-of that?

Afraid? Of what?

A flash, a crash, a pierced heart;

Darkness, light, O Heaven’s art!

A wound of his a counterpart!

Afraid-of that?

Afraid? Of what?

To do by death what life could not-

Baptize with blood a stony plot,

Till souls shall blossom from the spot?

Afraid-of that?

E. H. Hamilton

Like Arrows in the Hands of a Warrior

arrow feather stock selective focus
Photo by Pixabay on

I looked up at the night sky as I listened to my dear friend, Laura speak about what God has been doing in her family. I had wandered onto the far side of our back pasture as I spoke to her on my cell phone, engaged in her story, not really paying attention to where I was walking. God was moving, working within her and doing mighty things in her family’s life. Tears came to my eyes as I rejoiced with her about the breakthroughs she was experiencing. And along with the celebration came another familiar emotion. The kind that robs a friend of completely sharing in the joy of another. Envy.  Oh how I longed for God to move within my own life like that! Within my children’s lives. Life had become dry and I was seeing things within my children’s hearts, my heart, my husband’s heart that needed revival. A fresh work of the Spirit.

My eyes were drawn to two bright stars that, if you were to draw a straight line through them, pointed to the constellation, Scorpio (the scorpion), which is always prominent in the August sky. I had to find out what those stars were. I opened up my star app and pointed it at the stars and found they were not stars, but Saturn and Jupiter, which just so happened to be within the constellation, Sagittarius, the archer. Not only were they in the constellation, but they lined up perfectly with the bow. They were like an arrow directed at the scorpion. Interesting. There was something there.

I love the night sky and the constellations because they tell the wonders of God. I don’t live my life by the stars or the signs of the zodiac. I live my life according to the Word of God. But sometimes I believe God uses His creation to declare truth to His people. And there was something about those stars that He wanted me to see and understand. But I didn’t have a clue that night what it was.

A few days later I woke up and went for a run. It was a crazy day and I had so much to do, but running motivates me to get things done. Our missionary friends from Mexico have been staying with us all month and that day was their daughter, Kiersta’s birthday. She had a special request to be baptized in our pond on her birthday. As I ran that morning, I asked the Lord if He would also grant Thaddaeus the desire to be baptized that day. It is a prayer I have prayed for him for several years. That he would have the courage to show the world that he wants to follow Jesus.

I returned to a house full of people and work to do in preparing to teach the next day. As I hurried around, fretting over the demise of our computer and stressing over the preparations I still had to make, Thaddaeus informed us that he did, in fact, wish to be baptized as well. Everything in my frantic world stopped suddenly as the truth of what he said soaked in. Nothing else mattered. He crawled up on his Daddy’s lap as Jason explained, in a few moments’ time, what baptism meant.

“It’s a picture of what God did in your heart when you trusted Jesus. The old man is dead, buried in the grave, the new man is alive, raised to walk in newness of life.”

We hadn’t expected this that day, even though it was my prayer, so we all threw our bathing suits on and our small group headed over to the pond: our family, our missionary friends, and Jason’s parents. I was able to FaceTime my mom so she could be a part of it as well. I brought my guitar and we sang the song, “No Longer Slaves” and then we witnessed Kiersta’s baptism first in our slimy pond. Her father, Ben baptized her and after she emerged triumphantly out of the water her mother, Angela prayed over her. It was our turn and Jason and I stepped into the squishy mud with our son. Thaddaeus stood tall and expectant as Jason asked him if he had put all his trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross on his behalf. “Yes!” he declared so the small party could hear. Jason baptized his youngest and we celebrated “Antioch-style” as he was raised up from the water. I prayed over him then and found myself asking God to make him an arrow that God uses to shoot into the darkness of our world.


I realize now what God was trying to tell me.

Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies at the gate. Psalm 127:3-5

It was such an unexpected gift. To see my son declare that he desires to follow Jesus all of his days by being obedient in baptism.

I know. I know that parenting is hard. My job is not done. There are many more years of tears and praying and discipling and training to do. And some days I will feel like an absolute failure. I still have so much to learn. But God is so gracious. He gives the strength for each new day. He gives the wisdom and the perseverance to keep on doing the hard work and to renew my conviction that parenting is a holy calling. It is a good and noble work. And it is a work of a warrior.


Deliver Us From Evil Within


That’s the word that has described my spirit recently. Like a swift wind before the start of a torrential downpour whips at the trees and does mayhem to the stray hair about my face, so have the current events facing our world right now blown through my heart and my mind.

The thing is, so many have very different and very strong perspectives on this virus. The opposing arguing has become heated and ugly. I have my own opinions about things. Sometimes I share them, sometimes I refrain. But what I have seen grow within me as of late is something that has threatened to rob me of my firm footing and my peace and my joy. It’s been this unsettling. People are divided. But what is even worse is that Christians are devouring one another for sake of being right and sharing the truth. This should not be.

My question was and remains: As Christians, what should our response be to the madness surrounding us? 

I have been meeting with several ladies from my church on Zoom every Sunday afternoon to study the book of 1 Thessalonians together. It has been so timely, as a good amount of this letter that Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church 2000 years ago deals with the second coming of our Lord Jesus and how the church is to respond and live in light of His coming. In 1 Thessalonians 3, Paul is writing this fledgling church to tell them that because of their trials and persecution, he sent his dear friend, Timothy, to them to encourage them in their faith.

“so that no one would be ‘unsettled’ by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them. In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted.” 1 Thessalonians 3:3-4

There was that word, “unsettled”. Didn’t Jesus Himself prophesy that we would have trials and tribulations? But then, He also said, “Take heart! For I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33) He has overcome the world.

Sometimes it really doesn’t look like it. There is still sickness. There are still evil men in high positions. There are still broken lives. There is still sin without and within. It’s the sin within me that I must confront before I confront the evil outside of me. I must continually choose to humble myself and repent of my pride and my self-righteousness and cling to the truth of the gospel.

And here is the good news that we must remind ourselves daily and tell the world as long as we have breath: Jesus has already triumphed on the cross! He has judged the devil and this world by His death, burial and resurrection. And though evil still remains, Jesus is biding His time in order to give the opportunity to the world to repent from sin and to turn to Him and be saved. To be saved from the evil within us!

One day, maybe very soon, the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised, and Jesus will come back to this earth to take His proper role as King. True and final judgment will be issued upon evil and upon death once and for all.

As a believer in Jesus and as a citizen of His Kingdom, my response during these days must be settled conviction that He is with me and He will one day make everything right! I can rest in His sovereignty and His goodness and His justice. That doesn’t mean that we can’t vote or invest in causes that are near to our hearts or even disagree with others. But it does mean that our ultimate hope is in a King and a Kingdom that is coming to this earth.

Awake! Be sober and be watchful for we are children of the Day!

A song I wrote entitled Children of the Day.



A Letter to Mothers During These Strange Days


“Be very careful , then, how you live, not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.” Ephesians 3:15-16

Dear Mother,

Most of us are under some kind of shelter in place regulation due to the Coronavirus Epidemic and have found ourselves in a situation where our children are at home with us. It is a forced family time, such as I have never experienced before in my life and I know most everyone else has not either. Working moms are either working from home, or, if they have “essential jobs”, are having to navigate the strange waters of having their children at home and not in school, while something is creatively worked out for their safe care. Stay at home moms may have it easier, but this new-found homeschooling has created challenges as it has catapulted most everyone into spending more time together. And then having nowhere to go.

I can’t even begin to understand how difficult this must be for you. It’s hard for me and I’ve been homeschooling for a while now!

I am not writing to give you resources that I’ve found helpful or to give you tips on how to homeschool your children. The online help is abundant in that arena. I am writing because I would like to tell you the main reason that I chose to homeschool my children over seven years ago.

My grandmother was a missionary in Honduras in the sixties. She loved Jesus in a way that made me want to know him more. Her life motto was a simple phrase and she said it often: “Only one life ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” This concept that our lives are short, that our time here on this earth is temporary is the number one message that must be comprehended when faced with the great responsibility of caring for small human beings. We are mothers. We have been entrusted with a precious gift of a life. Or more! The people in our homes are made in the image of God with the capacity of doing great good or horrendous evil. Our time with them is short and absolutely crucial for shaping the next generation. I do not homeschool my children because I think I am the greatest teacher. Nor do I keep them home because I’m trying to isolate them from the world. My main reason isn’t even that I want them to have the very best life with the best education they can have, though those are reasons.

I homeschool because I see the discipleship of my children as my number one responsibility as a mother. By discipleship I mean the training of their hearts to know and to love God. There is no higher calling than that. I see homeschooling as a means to disciple them throughout the day as we read good literature and have deep conversations, as we discover the laws of science and marvel at God’s creation, even as I have opportunities to address their disrespectful hearts or their math mistakes. It’s all discipleship! It’s all training. The pointless grammar or the tedious writing, the repetitious memory work or mundane handwriting all delivers opportunities to grow in grace and patience and kindness. It is a gift.

These days at home are a gift. Use them well, remembering that in just a little while those children will fly away.


Kristin Joy

“Only one life ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” C.T. Studd

Why Integrity?


As I waited in line at Target yesterday, a lady with platinum blond hair motioned for me to come into another line to get checked out. She had one of those quick-scan card readers and we chatted mindlessly about their novelty and then she asked the inevitable question: were my boys twins, since I was buying two pairs of white shirts, khakis and shoes in the same size? They’re not, but two years apart. She opened up to me about her siblings, all eight of them, being two years apart and how several of them had already passed away. I offered my hurried condolences and took my bags. I then looked down at the receipt and realized that she had failed to ring up both pairs of shoes. The decision wasn’t a difficult one to make, as integrity is the culture of my family. I went back and showed her the mistake. She apologized and then referenced my honesty as being something very rare. It was then that I had a perfect opportunity to explain why I would take more time out of my day to go back and pay for something I hadn’t paid for, but my mind went blank. I had the perfect opportunity to share the gospel. But instead I stood there trying to grab hold of why I did what I did. Why honesty? Why integrity? I finally said that I try to live according to the Word of God and that I follow Jesus. She immediately asked if I was LDS (Mormon) as she had become one later in life, after all the tattoos. I told her I was not. And that was the end of the interaction.

But I am haunted by that interaction. The Lord actually woke me up at 2:00 AM and brought me to my knees this early morning. He brought me to repentance for not living my life with a sense of the urgency of the gospel. He brought me to the place of desperation for His Spirit to fill me so that I can then boldly proclaim the message of the gospel, which is that Jesus has come into this dark, dark world to bring hope and light and rescue from sin and ourselves and death. I am far too easily lulled into sleep, while people around me wander in the dark. Why Integrity? Because God has made Himself known to the world. He has stepped into the darkness and has given His very precious Word, which includes laws about honesty and not stealing, because of His love for the humanity that He created. We are to live lives of honesty and integrity because they reveal to a watching world that God is. That He has spoken. That He has come. That He is Truth.

Oh precious Holy Spirit, quicken us! Awaken your church from the deadly sleep of apathy! Bring us to repentance and let us depend again on your filling so that we may be used to bring hope to a dying world.