If you haven’t seen this video, you need to

On Tuesday mornings I meet with a group of interns who are investing in kids from low income housing during the summer. Just like during the school year when I love Thursdays because I get to be with visiting Chinese scholars, I love Tuesdays in the summers because I get to be with the interns and talk about ministry and life and God.

We’ve spent a couple of weeks unpacking With: reimagining the way you relate to God by Skye Jethani and what it means to do life with God. The other are options are to live life under him, over him, expect life from him, or to live for him. If nothing else, this is would be my huge take away from them this summer.

Shout out to Hannah for sending me the book. It articulated what I’ve felt and now can explain in relatively few words. Thanks friend!

Today we are going to start a two week series on Vulnerability and Shame based on the work of Brene Brown. Fantastic. Fan-Tas-Tic. If you’re not familiar with her, watch the video below (and if you’re reading this in an email, click here). My two favs of her books are The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

If you’re the praying type, you could pray for me (and if not, I’ll take your warm thoughts!). I am swimming in tedious work. Editing is vital to/for my book, and seeing more than ever before I am big picture, creative. Much of what I’ve been doing since April has not been big picture, it’s been details level. I’m decent with details. But under too many of them, I wilt. I’m wilting. My goal is to finish the editing process by the end of July. If it were only the book, I’d be okay. Other areas of my life need adjusting.

Will you water my wilting leaves with your prayers?

In the midst of wilting, I’m also thriving. (Do I contradict myself, very well then. I do. Walt Whitman said something along these lines. My translation: whatever.)

Don’t you love the color of summer? I’ve become a flower addict. And love lady bugs.

lady bug

I’m going to see Inside Out this afternoon because. Just because. Because I want to and Tuesdays are $5 at the movies. I’m wilting because I’m swimming in minute. Movies in the summer in the middle of the day seem decadent. And live giving.

Where are you wilting? Thriving? Any prayers or warm thoughts needed from me?


P.S. even writing this randomy post has been good for me. What helps revive you?

What Message Would God Have Charlotte the Spider Weave Over You?

One of my favorite children’s books is Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. You’re probably familiar with it, but as a brief refresher, over the course of the book Charlotte the spider spun four messages about Wilbur the pig in an effort to save his life. “SOME PIG!,” “TERRIFIC,” “RADIANT” and “HUMBLE.”

In an effort to save your life what would God spin over you?

Charlotte's web of LOVE

If you grew up in the church, you learned to sing Jesus Loves Me. This I know. For the Bible tells me so.

Do you know God loves you?

Do you know Jesus loves you?

Do you know the Spirit loves you?

Do you?

Loves you. Not loves what you do. Not loves your character. Not loves the ways you interact with people. Not loves your cooking or crafting or singing.

Jesus loves you. Do you know it? I’m sorry to go on and on, but I stumbled into a dark corner this spring and I can’t shake it. I lead an on-line book club for Christian women who live and serve cross-culturally. Our spring book was Expectations and Burnout: Surviving the Great Commission by Robynn Bliss and Sue Eenigenburg. Even if you don’t serve overseas, this is now my go-to book when it comes to expectations. The authors looked in depth at the expectations we have of ourselves and our roles, sending churches, sending organizations, co-workers, the culture, and of God.

The dark corner I stumbled into? Over and over women commented about what a new and freeing idea it was that God loved them. That they didn’t have to do more, move to a hard place, cook like Betty Croker, or be all things to all people. God loved them not because of what they did. Instead God loved them – loved them because they existed.

This is the heart of the gospel. Recently I have been reading the familiar verse John 3:16 from a fresh angle.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

The three words that jump out:




God so loved us that He gave His son so we wouldn’t perish but have life. Perishing can start here on earth. Relationships with family members can perish. Hope can perish. Patience can perish. And when we move away from love, we move towards death.

It’s so subtle, isn’t it? God doesn’t want us to do things for him. He wants to do life with us. Some lies are easy to smell out. God wants you to put yourself through college by being a prostitute. Others are more subtle. God wants you to be give more time to your church.

Maybe He does. I don’t know what you and God are talking about. Why I say this is a subtle lie is because of how quickly we believe it. How quickly it sticks to us and we nod in agreement. Yes, I really should ….whatever it is that you think you should do.

As soon as you hear a “should,” a little bell needs to go off. Should you? Must you? Or could you? Might you? See the subtle shift? Hear the freedom? The wooing? The love?

God doesn’t want us to do things for Him, He wants to do life with us.

We’re back where we started. Do you know God loves you? If you don’t, stick around Self Talk The Gospel and this message will sink in. This is the heart of what we are about, telling ourselves and each other the truth.

God loves you.

God doesn’t need you doing more for Him to win His favor.

I’m on a bit of a love campaign. I lived in China for almost 20 years. I’m so thankful I did and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. But. You knew that was coming, right? But, when your full time job and focus and ways you raise money to support yourself are around what you do (how can a job not be around doing?), we need to counterbalance it with love.

Yes, we are made for a purpose. Yes, cooking and making crafts and singing are tasty and worthwhile and fun. Yes, work is good. But love is better. And knowing it is the best.

Jesus loves me, this I know. May this be your refrain today, tomorrow, and to the end of your days.

A version of this first appeared on Self Talk The Gospel

To Non-Dads on Father’s Day


Dear Friend, I want to call you friend and not non-dad. If you’re like me, the term non-mom irks me because it focuses on what I’m not instead of what I am. I wasn’t going to write to you, I feel I’ve said my piece and my role is to help pastors navigate these waters. […]

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A Top 10 List That Might Make You Cry

Del's truck

It’s “Top 10″ week at Velvet Ashes (so far my fav list is Top 10 Podcasts –– I’ve added four of them to my podcast listening). I love a good list, so my mind has spent the last week organizing my thoughts into Top 10 lists. Here’s one from a couple of years ago with […]

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Show up, Slow down, and Stay around


This is our last day with Lauren (day one and two are here if you missed them). I feel happy/sad. It is one of the biggest pleasure in my life to bring different parts of my world together and let them get to know each other. After this, when I say, “my friend Lauren,” you’ll […]

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Comparing Ourselves Accomplishes Absolutely Nothing For the Glory Of God


Yesterday I introduced you to my friend Lauren Pinkston (if you haven’t read it, pop over and then pop back). Part of her research focuses on preparing people to live and work cross-culturally. While I know not everyone is going to move overseas, we all function cross-culturally to some extent. And initially any big change can be viewed as […]

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Because Everyone Has A Story


People are so interesting, aren’t they? Everyone has a story to tell, but too often I forget this and miss opportunities to hear their stories. I first met Lauren about a year ago when she became the Instagram Manger for Velvet Ashes. Lauren and her family moved to Laos a little over a year ago. And guess […]

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Ordinary days


I love the liturgical name for this time of year: ordinary time. In the rearview mirror we see Lent, Easter and Pentecost. In the far distance we know Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany is coming. But now, now are the ordinary days. The flood rains (please Lord) seem to have ended and the green is lush and […]

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Would you have cancer treatment overseas?


I’ve known Stephanie Diamond for almost 20 years. As you’ll see from the interview below, she’s made her home in China for over 25 years. What you might not learn from the interview is that she’s an amazing cook, one of the most generous people I know, and able to put on almost seamless trainings and orientations for […]

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Your turn!

We haven’t had a sign in a while and just to keep you on your toes, I’m not going to say very much. Instead, I want to hear from you and the thoughts that come to mind from this sign: Stay on the path. Not stay in your plan. Path. Plan. The words are so […]

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