Unspecified Testing Issues


Sandwiched between political conventions and email scandals and an uprising of violence all over the world sat an article in yesterday’s news about the USS Gerald Ford, a $15 Billion navy aircraft carrier whose completion is two years behind schedule and not ready to join the naval fleet anytime soon.  This is the most expensive warship in history.  My husband’s grandfather was Captain of one of these carriers during the Vietnam war (USS Princeton, during which time he was awarded the Navy Cross for bravery) so the headline intrigued me.

In CNN’s article, Michael Gilmore, the Defense Department’s director of operational test and evaluation, said the Ford “continues to struggle launching and recovering aircraft, moving onboard munitions, conducting air traffic control and with ship self-defense…unless these issues are resolved … they will significantly limit CVN-78’s ability to conduct combat operations.”

The most expensive warship in the history of the world can’t fight. And it can’t fight due to what the navy calls “unspecified testing issues.”

Have  you ever been in a season in which the same sorts of trials hit at you from all different directions?  Lately I have been feeling bombarded with trials of feeling offended. A look here, a comment there, an oversight or two, feeling left out from such-and-such or just flat out being wronged by someone. Not that I haven’t felt offended before, but lately the offenses are just piling high to the ceiling.  It seems as though before I deal with one in my own heart another one is rearing its ugly head (although I’m sure being 6 months pregnant has NOTHING to do with it…Me? Being oversensitive? Of course not). At the same time, although I have been diligent in seeking and pursuing the Lord in my daily walk, I’ve just kind of felt….stuck.

Offense is like a million tiny weights pulling you downward as you trudge through slops of mud. Although you may be headed forward, the progress is slow at best and leaves you feeling exhausted. It is difficult to find a way out. Proverbs 18:19 says “A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city.” There is something about the sin of offense that is sticky and holding and the natural tendency of our heart is to be unyielding. What great care must be taken to untangle the cords of pride and unforgiveness when one allows herself to be caught up in the miry gunk of offense!

Offense is the anti-gospel. It is the opposite of meekness. It says “my will be done” over “Thy will be done.” If the Lord is the one who brings “trials of many kinds” into our lives for the purposes of strengthening our faith, producing steadfastness, and ultimately bringing Him glory, then our balking at the circumstances we are surrounded by are nothing more than a shake of the fist at what God has ordained as our vehicle of such outcomes.  After all, we are to “count it all joy!”

We are the most expensive warcraft in the history of the world. The greatest price was paid for the purchase of our souls.  What a sad waste of precious resources to be deemed “unfit for combat” because of our “unspecified testing issues.” Our greatest victories will come as we yield in humility to our creator, cover offenses with love, and remember that we were bought with a price.


“From silken self, O Captain, free

thy soldier who would follow Thee.”

-Amy Carmichael

Screaming at you from Zambia…

This is random coming into a blog posting after so much time, but I am just going to plop right back in.

Some of you know my family is serving in Zambia for three months this summer at Breath of Heaven children’s village (www.bofheaven.org)

“What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.” (Mt 10:27)

Just going to copy an e-mail update I sent out to fam and close friends so don’t sweat the typos:

Wanted to drop an e-mail before I hit they hay tonight while my heart is still raw. Forward on to everyone who should read.

Khloe’s birthday was great and we had a lot of fun going to their favorite little restaurant and just hanging out as a fam. We got her a Zambian soccer ball and she has been having a blast and I think she can dribble better than I can.

Yesterday I saw one of the new little girls struggling to comb out her hair which needed to be re-braided. They call it planting here. I asked her if I could comb it out for her, and she got so excited. This little love is about 8 years old and just barely bigger than Kiara. She is tiny tiny everywhere and has the quietest little voice–even when she is laughing and yelling, it sounds like a whisper. She is meek.

I grab the plastic comb and look at the mat of hair, wondering where to begin. A mama thinks she knows the best way to brush out little girl tangles, but this hair is just so, so different. Like a trillion strands of short curly greasy fuzz. I begin gingerly but it doesn’t take long before I realize that if I don’t start yanking on this head of hair, it will absolutely never be done. Little by little I pick away until her matted mess becomes a perfectly poofed afro. Proud of myself and feeling quite accomplished in front of my house mother friends, I begin to go on to the next thing before I hear a teeny tiny voice say “you plant.” Unshaken, i look at the poof and think okay, I can do this. I will just go across the front of the crown like I do for Kiara’s and make her little fro a cute little headband of hair. But quickly I realize that you can’t plant with your fingers like we do at home, no, this short fuzzy stuff has to be braided with the tips of your fingers, grabbing and holding hair between thumb and forefinger instead of down lower between the second and third fingers. As I fumbled away I noticed the silvery strands and graying ends on this babies hair- like rings on a tree, marking a day not-so-long ago when this sweet baby didn’t have enough to eat. Drained and scrambling for energy, her body had sapped even her hair of creating color-nothing wasted in the fight for survival. And I wonder where she was, this little baby at the end of these fuzzy strands. I wonder who held her when her tummy hurt. Who soothed her when she was starving. Where she went all day. Now she is here. Safe, nourished, loved, and smiling at the muzungu struggling to give her the darling doo she deserves. “You plant. Like this! Take this then this then this then this then this! Just like this! You plant!”

Long story short—the house mother gave her a really, really cute hairdo.

I had the opportunity today to go with the (incredibly awesome) team visiting from Calvary Murrieta to visit John Laing compound and Pastor Claude’s little community school there. This is where Eunice is from (her mother still lives there) and Casey agreed I should go.

NEVER. Will I EVER. Be the same.

I had seen pictures and video of this place before…but….no, not even a THIMBLE FULL of what it is really like.

If there were words to describe, I would, but even of all the Zambia I have seen in these 5-6 weeks….nothing even close than driving into the heart of a compound. Pastor Claud was a (for Zambian standards) well-off man from Eastern province who left everything there with his wife to come live and take care of the orphaned children at John Laing. It is decrepit. Filth so filthy that it is the filth on top of filth’s filth’s filth’s filth. Tiny and crammed and dumpy and boozy and nauseating. We get out of the vehicle and walk down a small pathway and around a corner to a small clearing whose footing has been established with dirt filled mealie-meal sacks and pallets…because the dirt is so dirty you have to have sacks full of dirt on top of dirt to have solid ground. Under an overhang and through a dark entranceway, and suddenly there they are. Like chocolate colored porcelain dolls with big white smiles squished together on jimmy rigged “desks” which look more like Catholic kneeling benches….little brown cherubim whose beauty stuns you….how could such lovely things be hiding in this little dark spot? They are like little hidden treasures! No one must know these are here! They would surely be swooped up instantaneously by the white mama hens I know, surely no one must know the riches that are hidden in this little dark spot! Through another doorway, and here are more! And through another, and here are even more! All sorted into groups of sizes like the piles of diamonds dug out of the caves a la seven dwarves. They are beautiful! What are they doing in these dark, dusty concrete cubes? Back out to the clearing and with a whistle they pour out of the doorway, coming out just as they were seated…still attached to their kneeling benches but with outstretched legs waddling their ways to the backside of the courtyard, building an impromptu set of bleachers. And one by one you begin to see in the light what you can’t in the dark. The beautiful girl who has been caught up in your gaze and your viewfinder suddenly turns her head and you notice the tendons in her neck and her sinewy muscular arms…the patches of hair gone missing, replaced by bleeding ulcers. The little boy who smiles so big but covers his face as soon as he notices you looking at him because of the sore that has erupted across his chin. The girl with the pink tank top whose skin isn’t pulled tightly because of the braided weave in her hair. Whose bulging eyes and cough and funguses on her face reveal that she is most likely HIV positive and whose disease is obviously active…and you gulp, knowing that probably $200 in medicine would keep that child from an untimely death…but who is there to get it to her? I see the little boy not much older than Henry holding his paper airplane and I walk over to help him fold it and as I reach out my hand, he lifts his up to mine and before his soft little brown fingers touch mine, I notice that his hand is trembling….not the kind of trembling that you get when you are nervous, but the kind you feel when you haven’t eaten or have had too much caffeine…and I realize this little baby boy is hungry and I make a note in my brain that a lollipop is not going to make this boy feel better and remember the peanut butter protein bar I have stashed in my bag to keep Khloe’s tantrums at bay if I’m ever in a pickle. I decide that somehow I will sneak to this boy and give him the bar and stand guard while he shoves it in his mouth because I have seen how an older boy will, without shame, run up and judo chop a baby to take what he has. Starvation + no rules = unruly, angry boys. So back to the crowd I go and watch the kids’s jaws drop when I tell them Mwauchoma Bwanji (good afternoon) and Zicomo zicomo zicomo as they mob me for hugs…and I look throught he fence and see snotty nosed two year olds peeking through the boards, crying “Mommy! Mommy!” when they see me….and all of a sudden I realize that I missed the “final call” and am being rushed out of the courtyard in a mob of hugs and “mama! mama!”‘s….but where is the baby boy!? Where did he go! I cannot find him! I turn frantically and stimulate my vertigo which has been emboldened by the sea of black and tan hands and smiling faces pulling at my hand and arms for a hug…and I realize, I am not going to see this boy again. I am not going to see him again. And before I know it I am pushed through the gate and immediately handed a hand sanitizing wipe and rolling into the van and the hot tears come. This mommy will not feed that baby boy today. And he will have his lollipop. If no big boy karate chops it from him. And maybe that is all he will eat today. And I. am. done. I have dipped into this pocket of humanity and come out wondering what in the world has happened and I have a backpack with a protein bar in it and a wallet full of money. And I have never been so frustrated with myself.

And as we pull out to the road and breathe the fresh yet putrid air, I see now that God had something to teach me. Dumbfounded, I wondered “HOW CAN THIS BE? how can this exist? Why isn’t anyone fixing this?” And i look down at my dust covered toes and realize that my feet were on that soil. My eyes were chosen to see this. And we are all walking around in the US with EVERYTHING a target trip away. Protein and kwacha abound. And we plan to maybe one day do something about those over there but we don’t. And it grieves him. It is GRIEVOUS. and HEINOUS. That these babies, well within our reach, are shaking with starvation and suffering horribly from what a $3 tube of cream could cure in a week and dying from AIDS because their mothers had to decide between breastfeeding them and giving them HIV or watching them starve. And every day and minute and hour that we put it off or “wait on the Lord to tell us what to do” the babies hair grows in gray and they ache for food and a mommy and a daddy and for love. And I come home and turn on my ipad and as I am typing this can see an ad for cellulite reduction and $199 for an oceanfront room in puerto rico! With many exclusive amenities included.

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we should lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 john 3:16-18

LAY DOWN OUR LIVES. If we don’t, how can the love of God really be in us? And we, unlike Pastor Claude, always have the lifeline of home and America and jobs and hope as a backup. Three months combing out little braids while my daughters sing and dance and play and my son grins widely as he toddles across the lawn and I get to enjoy watching them feed their faces (as MUCH as you want today! A snack? Yes! More peanut butter? Yes! Eat, my babies!) is really a vacation. I can think of nothing more fulfilling and wonderful and deep joy giving for my family than this. ANd I realize that I have tasted what John Piper calls the most luscious fruit in the world…that of enjoying God as He gives you more and more and more of himself. And as I look at the two teenage girls here sharing a house with us who have both been to Haiti 8 times and Belize and now Africa and have their sights set on Cambodia and China and anywhere else they can get their feet to, I think YES! THIS is what I want for my daughters. I want them to experience the joys and pains and victories and miseries of missional living. This is true life.

Please be praying for our family as we plow ahead toward what God is so mercifully and graciously beckoning us toward. We are so thrilled to be a part of the kingdom of God and feel so indulgent as we feast on the fruit of His glory right now– it is a delight to be here.
Thank you–friends and family–for supporting God’s vision in our family’s mission.  We love you all so much.


Oh, hello.

The other day I took the girls to a nearby park with an adjacent pool.  Wanting to show Kiara the little kids taking swim lessons, we walked up toward the fence.  Immediately the smell of chlorine and floating plastic lane lines transported me to Merced summers as a little girl in Tiny Tots.  And the end of the swim sessions always ended with the same daunting adventure– the chance to jump off of the high dive.

Encouraged by my instructor, I would hop out of the pool, the hot concrete stinging the bottom of my prune-like feet as I made my way down toward the deep end.  One-by-one the Tiny Tots would ascend.  My turn.  Up the faded blue steps, gripping the metal handrail for dear life.  To the top.  The air is so much cooler a whopping 10 feet off of ground level, a shiver sent through my bony little body as I look down at the instructor, ant-like, below.  I am Felix.  One step, then two, to the middle of the board.  Exposed, being watched, and being waited on becomes too much to handle.  “Jump!” the instructor urges.  I look around, down and behind me, and decide that it just isn’t worth the risk.  I turn around, and with tail between legs, begin the descent.  Others behind me step down as well; my doubt shaking their confidence.  Back to the burning concrete.

“During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.  When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified.  “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.  But Jesus immediately said to them:  “Take courage!  It is I.  Don’t be afraid.”  “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”  “Come,” he said.  Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord save me!”  Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.  “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

Like Peter, many of us begin our calling with strong faith in the Holy Spirit to accomplish what He desires in us.  A fresh overflow of the Spirit sometimes leads us to do things that we wouldn’t have normally considered possible or even had a desire to do.  I am Peter.  Perhaps you are, too.

Upon catching a glimpse of the Lord, we can clamor to the edge of the boat calling out, “Lord!  Is that you?  Is it you, Lord?  Out there?”  Flushed with faith and wonder at the sight of Him, enamored with the reality of His reality, we crazily call out, “Me too, Lord!  I want to do what you’re doing!  Lead me out!  Draw me nearer!”  Unfazed by the laws of physics and the workings of nature, Jesus gladly invites us.  “Come.”  Of course we know that nothing is impossible with our Lord, but we aren’t even thinking about that at this point.  Our eyes are so transfixed on our Savior that nothing else matters.  No contrary thought even crosses our minds.

And then, the wind hits.

A whisper from the east gently blows against your cheek as it cunningly asks “who are YOU?”  Confused, you break eye contact and turn your head.  “What did you say?  Who was that?”  And before you know it, your socks are suddenly soggy as you frantically search for the eyes of the one who called you.  Oh YOU of little faith.

What happened?  Why the disconnect?

As believers, we can count on periods of intense calling.  Those times when Christ is almost visible to us, when His reality is our reality.  Excited and emboldened by the gift of seeing His purpose, we move quickly in faith toward our shepherd calling “Come.”

Also, we can count on the wind.  Contrary to pop-evangelicalism, following our shepherd is not equal to smooth seas.  “In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33.

The disconnect happens in that 3-letter word.  YOU.

Me.  Us.  We.



We begin to sink as we rest in our own ability to calm the storms.  Or as we stop in the middle and say “hey look at me!  I’m walking on water!”  Nothing breaks our gaze faster than when we start thinking about ourselves.  Self is the detriment to finishing well.

Jodi was called home to Jesus this week.  Never in my life have I been so inspired by the faith of another.  Seeing her illness as the means by which God would be glorified in her, Jodi fixed her eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of her faith.  She unswervingly witnessed to His sufficient grace for her, and with supernatural joy endured the unspeakable with a determined smile.  One-by-one the stories have poured in about Jodi’s selflessness and regard for others above herself.  Jodi finished well.

In Jodi’s honor, I climb on.  Though the height of my board may not be as tall as hers, I hope to faithfully stay in lockstep with my instructor.  May He be glorified as we clamor to the edge, racing toward Him with infatuated hearts.


Renew me, Lord.  Fall on me afresh.  Pour all of me out as I testify that any good thing in me is not from me at all.  Every good and perfect gift comes from you and is for you.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)

Green Eggs and Babyproofing.


I took baby Khlo for her 9 month appointment last week where her incredible pediatrician went casually down the checklist to make sure Khloe was meeting all of her developmental milestones.

“And, you’ve babyproofed, right?”

Immediately, my mind filled with images of rubber-edged tables and zip-tied cabinets.


I have the electric sockets covered.  Well, most of them.  I always forget to put them back in after I vacuum.

The cleaning supplies and medicines are higher than Kiara’s reach from her big stool.  Better check that….think she just had a growth spurt.

But every mom knows that no matter how much time and energy spent on babyproofing, your child will find its weaknesses.  And fast.  It’s in our nature to be curious.

“Just make sure the chemicals and medicines are out of the way.  You know about the other stuff.”

Ahh, yes.  I’m a mother of two.  I get to wear the Been There Done That badge with pride.  Moms of 3+, you’re on a whole different playing field.  Hats off to you, my friends.

I’ve done bumps, bruises and profuse bleeding.  And that’s just from my husband.

What any seasoned mother will tell you is that you’ve gotta keep them from the big dangerous stuff and train them not to get into the stuff you don’t want them to.  Let them explore.  They’re going to bump their little heads sometimes.  They’re going to gingerly make their way around and around the coffee table until one day they realize they can pull off and take steps without holding on.  They’re going to put sand in their mouths at the beach and then realize how nasty sand is and stop putting sand in their mouths.  It’s like the motto from my alma mater—-they “Learn by Doing.”


Are you playing it safe?

Are you a nominal believer who claims Christ but buffers herself from the idea of living dangerously?

Have you padded every corner, not wanting the sharpness of the gospel to penetrate your heart or to offend those from whom you seek approval?

WHO ARE THOSE PEOPLE!?  Do you dare identify them to yourself?  Could you write down their names?

Do you keep shut tight every storage cabinet that might possibly be opened?  Who knows what one can find lurking in the dark corners back there.  ::shudder::

Do you close off every door of opportunity, afraid of what scary, harmful thing may be on the other side?  He could ask you to sell every single thing you own.  Move your family.  Go somewhere scary.  Step out of your comfort zone.

Would you?  Could you?

Are you willing to risk bumps-on-the-head?

Let’s take it back to the basics.  Remember Sam?


Sam had a friend.  He would not try green eggs and ham.

He would not, could not here or there.  He would not, could not anywhere.

Not on a boat, not in a tree, not in a car.  Just let him be.

He did not like green eggs and ham.  He did not like them, Sam-I-Am.

Good ol’ Sam.

“You do not like them.  So you say.  Try them!  Try them!  And you may.  Try them and you may, I say.”


“Say! I like green eggs and ham!  I do!  I like them, Sam-I-am!  I do so like green eggs and ham.  Thank you!  Thank you, Sam-I-am!”

Don’t be scared of what you don’t know.

Don’t be scared of what other people might say.

Don’t be scared to bump your head.

Surrender fully to Him. Take the covers off of the sockets and the bumpers off the edges.  Set your sights on the one whose word is a lamp to your feet and a light to your path.

Live dangerously.  Jump in the deep end.

Would you?  Could you?

What keeps you from full surrender?  Who keeps you from full surrender?  What safeguards have you put in place to keep you from living dangerously?


Hi friends–

Special edition today.  Working on a series for the blog, but wanted to take today to ask for your special prayers for this special lady:


This is Jodi.

Jodi was in my Lifegroup at the Movement in San Marcos before we started with the Life Mission Church plant.  So picture this, everything is totally normal, we’re at Lifegroup and I’m having a conversation with her about adoption, as well as some tummy aches she’d been having.  Just a normal Thursday night.  Then, before you know it, we heard the news that Jodi had a 12 inch tumor on her ovary.  Over time, we learned that Jodi was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer.  Surgery, more tumors, transfusions, chemo, fluid-filled lungs, insane nausea….craziness.

(My info is generally coming through FB, so forgive me Jodi if I have made any mistakes).

She has been through crazy amounts of trials, more than most of us have or will ever face.  Jodi is about the same age as I am.  She is being treated at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Arizona.

Would you take some time today and pray for Jodi?  Specifically, she just started a new round of chemo after her last round didn’t receive the results they’d hoped for.  Please pray that her body responds well to the new medications, and for HEALING!  Also, if you feel like you’d like to donate toward her care, you can help her reach her goal of $30,000 HERE.

Thank you all for your prayers! If you are praying for Jodi, would you mind leaving it in a comment on this post for her encouragement?  THANK YOU!


Love Wins


We are all about happiness in America.  Especially in San Diego.  Yesterday, as I walked through Sea World with my family and some friends, I found myself thinking about the zoo passes that we need to renew and I really can’t wait to try paddleboarding and HEY!  Maybe we can splurge and get those Disneyland annual passes for the girls’ birthdays this year (dreamland).  Being surrounded with endless entertainment options and cool learning experiences can lead to us jumping from one happy thing to the next.  It’s hard not to be happy when you’re watching two killer whales do backflips in tandem!  I mean, come on, how in the world do they get them to do that?!  “Hey, you gigantic killing machine…why don’t you just do a little twirl for me over here and I’ll give you a fish?”  Crazy.

Then, as you’re leaving Sea World you get a text telling you about Boston.  Suddenly, the theme park music fades and you look around, sickened.  The happy little world that was lighting up your baby’s eyes an hour ago goes black, and you’re reminded that evil still exists.  Ugh.

My heart just wrenches thinking about…..all of it.  The lives lost.  The families.  The kids.  The pain.  The terror.  The chaos.  The countless hours of training, dedication, travel, planning, praying and hoping that all of the runners and supporters and organizers went through in preparation for the event, marred by a senseless act.

Sometimes the real world is just too much.  We’re content in happy land and then the bottom drops out.  And it just doesn’t make sense to us.  Why would anyone want to do that?  Why don’t they all just want to be happy too?  Why do people do stuff like this?  It’s too much.

Fresh wounds need their own space.  Newly bruised spirits need compassion, not analysis.  So today let’s just “weep with those who weep” (Rom 12:15) and know that though our world is cruel and senseless, we still cherish seeds of hope.

We have hope because we know that love wins.