One Hundred Six

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In February of 2003, I sat across the table at a Mexican restaurant from my friend, Charles. He was about to leave for a semester in Germany, and we were enjoying a just-as-friends date before he left. We had been good friends for a while, had been on one disastrous actual date a few months prior, after which he had shared that he wanted to get to know me better. I had idiotically responded that I liked his best friend and we endured a few hellishly awkward months. Now, he was leaving for five months, so the timing seemed perfect to let him know that my heart was changing towards him and maybe I do like him like that, okay, see-you-in-five-months-bye.

It all worked out. We’re married.

But I still have a tendency to drop bombs on the guy at the worst possible times: home for lunch for 25 minutes? Let’s rehash the last 3 months and talk about our issues. A long-anticipated date day? Let’s be miserable and talk about our issues. Middle of the night and I can’t sleep? Let me wake you up and talk about our issues.

Sometimes it can’t be avoided. Sometimes, too much time has passed in between face-to-face time and we have to seize any and every opportunity or we will inevitably coast forever. We could do that; we’re stubborn people.

So this morning, as I am wont to do, approximately 7 minutes before he needed to leave for work, I asked him, “So Love, how are we doing?” Unlike usual, I didn’t have anything specific in mind. I wasn’t trying to corner him. I just wanted to hear his (brief) thoughts.

And here’s where we are: right on the edge of another huge life change. Our 4th (and final) baby is due in about 6 weeks. We feel as though we’ve literally just come up for breath after moving and settling in. Right after we moved in I was sick for a solid month. Then we faced a hard summer filled with questions and doubts concerning potential health issues with this baby. Now we are knee-deep in 5th and 2nd grades and Kindergarten and projects and doctor’s visits and deadlines and no time off work and groceries are expensive and…some of that feels almost, blissfully, normal. We can coast here. We can breathe here. Sure, we’re often exhausted, but this is an exhaustion that at least feels familiar.

What does life look like 2 months from now? What does that exhaustion look like? What does that stress look like?

I could lose sleep over questions like those. (I have. It doesn’t help.) What helps is rehearsing what I already know to be true. God is good. God is sovereign. God is not surprised. God has not forgotten me. God has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. God’s plan is good, pleasing, and perfect.

I need these reminders because I am so forgetful and life is so distracting sometimes. In his grace, God has allowed me to learn this lesson alongside my youngest son. Remember his hard days of Kindergarten drop off? We are still facing those in 2nd grade. And so, every day before I leave him, we pray. And we remember, rehearse, and remind ourselves of those same simple yet profound truths. God is good. God has not forgotten you. God is always with you. God has placed you here with this teacher, in this school, with these friends, for a reason.

And it helps. It helps him, it helps me, it helps my not-so childlike faith to grow.

My timing stinks, but his timing is always perfect.

One Hundred Five


“And while we may not always believe it or feel it, he continues to hold us in his hand as we stumble blindly through the wilderness.”

I wrote those words yesterday and they’ve been echoing in my head ever since. I’m reading through Exodus right now as well as the book “The Red Sea Rules” and my husband and I are indeed walking blindly through the wilderness. I’ll probably have my Christian card revoked for saying this, but there’s not much I hate more than walking by faith. It’s so hard, y’all!!

I love hindsight. I love looking back on a period of time and seeing God’s gracious hands at work all over it. I love to tell those stories of rescue. But drop me down in the middle of the trial and I will whine and complain and doubt and fear and lose sleep and have heart palpitations and get shingles. I mean, it’s been known to happen.

I’ve been in one haunted house in my life. I was probably 10 or 11 and my softball team went as a group. I’m pretty sure my eyes were closed the entire time, but I still managed to get so scared at what I couldn’t see lurking in dark corners, that I begged my mom to get me out of there and she had a zombie open up a side door and let us out. I don’t like being scared. I don’t like surprises. I don’t like the unknown.

I’m 34  years old and I’m still learning that life doesn’t present itself in the way I want. I don’t get to see the end result. I just get to live day by day and moment by moment. And as a follower of Jesus, I’m expected to walk moment by moment in complete dependence upon him. I’m called to a life of faith and trust and rest. I’m so bad at it.

Maybe that’s why God keeps presenting me with opportunities to practice. He keeps asking me to follow him into the unknown. He keeps asking me to trust his guidance and his plan. He keeps asking me to believe the best, and believe what his word says, and believe that the day will come when I will look back and see his gracious hands all over this time.

Gracious God, I’m so ready for this story of rescue.

One Hundred Four

Way back in the day, when we were young(er) parents of just 2 kids, my husband and I were on a date. Dates have always felt rather like a luxury, and since they always seemed to be few and far between, I had a tendency to put enormous pressure on them. They had to serve multiple purposes, not the least of which was valuable face-to-face time to discuss everything we hadn’t been able to discuss in the reality of day-to-day living with little kids. Our dates weren’t always a lot of fun.

On this particular occasion, I recall my husband asking when we would get back to “carefree” life. I laughed, but also understood where he was coming from. While our early years of marriage, before kids, weren’t exactly carefree (applying to grad schools, being rejected by grad schools, getting paid by the hour, finishing school, living off of student loans), we did have a seemingly endless amount of time together, the freedom to see movies, eat Chipotle, read Harry Potter, etc.

Life with two young boys was stressful and relatively busy. We certainly had no clue that God would add a girl to our crew, my mom would die, our son would have Type 1 Diabetes, our business would fail, our house selling and buying wouldn’t go as planned, and then…another baby. Carefree? What on earth is that?

This month, our church worship leaders released their first album. (It’s free! You can download it here…I highly recommend it.) It’s been on repeat in our van ever since Brenden gave me a copy. Just today, the words to many of the songs struck me in a fresh way. I heard the people of God longing for carefree days. Watch this clip and listen to the words from Psalm 126:

CityPres Worship :|: Songs of Rescue from Jody Wickersham on Vimeo.

Song 6: “Although we are weeping, Lord help us keep sowing
The seeds of your kingdom for the day you will reap them.
Your sheaves we will carry, Lord please do not tarry
All those who are weeping will go out with songs of joy.”

Song 7: “Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!”

Song 8: “When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of death, and hell’s destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan’s side.
Songs of praises, I will ever give to Thee.

Land me safe on Canaan’s side
Bid my anxious fears, bid my anxious fears
Land me safe on Canaan’s side
Bid my anxious fears, bid my anxious fears, goodbye.”

Song 2: “Father for Thy, promised blessing,
Still we plead before Thy throne
For the times of, sweet refreshing,
Which can come from Thee alone.

Give reviving, give refreshing,
Give the looked-for Jubilee
To Thyself may, crowds be pressing,
Bringing glory unto Thee.”

Scripture is filled with the groanings and prayers of God’s people in the midst of hard times. They lament. They cry out. They beg for relief. They don’t stay stubbornly silent or simply complain to their close friends. They give God an earful and they ask him to respond. They don’t sugar-coat their real feelings. They assume that God can handle it all – the real, raw, hard, ugly truth. And of course, he can. He knows our thoughts before we do. He sees our hearts. And while he doesn’t always respond immediately, or how we want, he does not remain silent forever. His mercies are new every day. He brings the looked-for Jubilee.

And while we may not always believe it or feel it, he continues to hold us in his hand as we stumble blindly through the wilderness.



One Hundred Three


Much to my husband’s chagrin, when I first saw Les Miserables, I was Team Eponine. I was supposed to be all romantic and root for Cosette and Marius and passion and “love at first sight.” But I was rooting for the established friendship of childhood friends and wanted Marius to see her devotion to him. Because here’s the thing: I don’t believe in love at first sight. Sure, I believed in it as a college freshman, and for a while I attended every function and every class fully believing that I would meet my future husband. That never happened, and my skepticism about all things romantic began to grow.

I recently watched a video of a musician describing the day she “fell in love with Jesus”. Not for the first time in my life, I was jealous of another person’s story and experience. It seemed more important and impactful than my own. After all, I’m one of those good girls who literally grew up in church and rarely missed a Sunday service. I can’t remember “falling in love with Jesus.” Loving Jesus was always just a given. I was safe in a bubble where it was assumed that I did, and you do, too.

As I reflected upon all of this, I thought about falling in love with my husband. While in my past I impulsively told a handful of boys that I thought I loved them (can you say unrequited?), it wasn’t until Charles that I actually loved a man. But if you know anything about our story, you should know this – it wasn’t immediate. In fact, I was completely against the idea of even dating him. We were just friends who became good friends who became inseparable. It was a gradual process for both of us, learning to trust each other with our stories, spending lots of time together, until eventually we couldn’t imagine life without the other.

So I can’t remember a lightning bolt moment with Jesus. I can’t remember him sweeping me off of my feet. I simply remember his constant presence and friendship throughout the entirety of my life. The relationship and grown and changed and I often take it for granted. But scripture states that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So I’m the one growing and changing. He’s the one faithfully walking along with me, revealing truth and softening my heart and opening my eyes. His is a “love that will not let me go,” and the fact that I’ve had it forever? That’s certainly not a bad thing.

One Hundred Two


I told a friend recently that I thought I would be a different person once we were moved and settled into our new home. Turns out, I was right, but I’m not such a fan of the new person I’ve become. I’ve been angry, self-focused, and a recluse. As good friends are wont to do, she gave me a better perspective, and told me to extend myself some grace. I’ve been dealt a lot of change in 2016. And while I still refuse to acknowledge it, stressful situations cause me stress! I’ve experienced a lot of death so it makes sense that I’m now experiencing a time of grieving.

We had good plans in place. Good plans that we felt were going to glorify God and help us to enjoy Him. And we have watched as plan after plan has crumbled and died.

Just this week, I wrapped up a reread of Genesis and took special note of every occurrence in which the people of God put their trust in their own plans and it didn’t work out. The great fathers of the people of God – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob – at times? They all acted like total idiots. Sitting in my comfy chair in the year 2016, knowing the entirety of the story, I can comfortably judge them as they simply did what they thought was best. I can point my judgmental finger at them and shake my head as if to say, “Dude, just trust in the Almighty God of the universe. He’s got this!”

(Just another plank in my eye situation.)

I have been grieving and angry as all of my best-laid plans have turned out to be different from God’s. And to be completely honest, I’ve resented that his perfect plan includes another baby for our family. I’ve been confused as to how a solid month of completely debilitating headaches have been best for me and for my family. I’ve wondered how on earth he will provide for our family when, instead of our growing our income, he’s expanding the number of mouths to feed.

Of course, a reread of scripture always points to the faithfulness of God. When his people act like idiots, he makes a way. He rescues. He redeems. He’s not surprised. He brings all things together for their good. When the Green Door House disappeared, God provided the Triangular House, and I can’t even begin to tell you how thankful we are that we are here instead of 20 blocks south, where we wanted to be. I wake up and spend my days in a concrete reminder of God’s faithfulness to our family and a testimony that his plans are better than my own. The great cloud of witnesses is surely watching and saying, “Dude, just trust in the Almighty God of the universe. He’s got this!”

I still miss it. I still doubt. But this morning I woke up and peeked at my sleeping children (who always look like cherubs when asleep) and felt in my soul, “We can do this. We can add one more person to this crew. This is going to be so good!” I hadn’t felt or believed that even once during this pregnancy. Of course, I knew we didn’t have a choice – we do have to do this, but today, I knew that we could. Not because we are amazing parents and not because all of our questions are answered and our financial burdens have been lifted, but because God has declared that this is his plan. He has always been faithful. Through some of the very scariest times in our lives, he has provided. He’s the Almighty God of the universe. He’s got this.





One Hundred One


I finally deleted a couple of reminders from my phone this week. Every morning at 8:00 for at least a month now, my phone has been dinging to remind me to write a few thank you notes. After a week, I acknowledged the sound, inwardly cursed myself for being lazy, and got frustrated that whatever I was in the middle of (drinking coffee, probably) was too important to stop doing and write the notes.

Today, I took 8 minutes while my son did homework beside me and wrote three thank you notes. I deleted the reminder and felt 10 pounds lighter.
Can you relate to this at all? Have you had good ideas of something thoughtful to do for someone else but lacked the discipline to follow through? Did you beat yourself up afterward?
Here’s the thing- it’s not the thought that counts. I really wish it was, because I’m incredibly thoughtful in my head, but it’s not.
Last week I also set a reminder that today is Star Wars Day. It’s May 4th. May the fourth be with you. It’s nerdy, but we embrace nerdy around here. Thanks to The Force Awakens, we are all Star Wars obsessed yet again in my house, so I knew I wanted to acknowledge and celebrate the day with my kids. I am also pregnant and tired and today is a long day of homework and laundry. So I knew I had to be intentional about doing something fun or the day would slip by and the opportunity would be lost for another year. When my phone reminded me yesterday afternoon about the big day, I pulled down the cookie cutters, made sure I had the ingredients for the sugar cookies, and schemed the rest of the days menu.
The kids were delighted, the cookies were tasty, and letting the kids help in the kitchen wasn’t nearly as stressful as I always assume it’s going to be. Had I failed to make the cookie dough or ignored my phone’s reminder, and let my kids know tomorrow that I thought about celebrating Star Wars day with them…but didn’t…well, they probably wouldn’t have been very excited. I doubt they would have said, “Oh, that is so sweet of you, mom. Thanks for thinking about doing that. We would have enjoyed that.” Of course not. Like any normal person, they would have been bummed. If they’re like me (and they are, for better or worse), they probably would have responded, “Why on earth did you tell us about something you thought about doing but didn’t? What’s the point in telling us? Just to bum us out?”
It’s not the thought that counts.
One of my pastors literally wrote the book on this. He talks extensively about caring for his church members by reminding himself to care for his church members. He sets reminders to check in with people on a regular basis. He wants to do this anyway, but given the huge number of people he meets, knows, comes into contact with, and the fact that his brain never stops working, he needs to be reminded. It almost sounds uncaring to have to remind yourself to care about people, but he points out that wanting to care for people but never doing it? That’s uncaring.
I got a text today from a dear friend telling me that I’m a joy-giver to her.
My son brought home a letter from his teacher listing specific things she loves about him and that make him “officially awesome.”
A friend sent me flowers in the middle of a particularly difficult season in my life.
My dad used to send me comic strips that made him think of me.
Of course some of those are more elaborate than others, but the point is, they all followed through with their thoughtfulness. And truly, that’s what counts.

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:18


One Hundred


We are officially moved into our new home and feeling very settled. We are down to those last few boxes filled with random things like pictures and memories and VHS tapes and other items we want to keep but aren’t sure where to put. Our kids are making messes in every square inch of the place and it really feels like home. After months and months (and months!) of feeling unsettled, it’s a really great feeling.

Over the weekend I opened another neglected box and found two folders stuffed with papers. One folder contained my high school and college transcripts, scholarship letters, college acceptance and transfer letters, and seemingly every single awards certificate I received from junior high through college.

The other folder consisted of essays, papers, and exams from my senior AP English class. I really hated that class. My teacher was very tough and hard to please. I’m sure she made sure I was well-prepared for college and I should be grateful, but I’ll sheepishly admit that I’m not. I read through some of my papers and her comments in the margins. They were brutal and honest and (in my humble opinion) nit-picky. Apparently I missed the tone of every poem we analyzed. I failed to grasp the main points of our authors. I neglected to recognize hyperbole.

As I read through the stack of papers written in my bubbly high school script, I sympathized with the girl who wrote them. My feelings were hurt for the girl who surely had worked her hardest and tried her best on each assignment. I also hurt for the 34-year-old woman who read those words and still felt stung by them. I was frustrated for feeling like the words of my teacher made an ounce of difference in my worth, my standing, or my purpose.

I found one last essay from one of the last months of senior year. It had very few notes in the margins and two lovely sentences at the top: “What a fantastic essay. You are so prepared for college.” My chest swelled with pride and my eyes welled with tears. I had done it. I had finally pleased her. I was good enough, I was smart enough, and dog-gone-it, people liked me.

I snapped out of it. I asked myself why on earth this validation meant so much to me. And, as is my tendency, I beat myself up about it. “Seriously, Keely? You’re still struggling with this? Why do you need others to tell you you’ve done a good job? Why do you need to hear you’ve made someone proud? Do the words of Mrs. G really make a difference one way or another for the woman, wife, mother, and person you are today?”

In another breath I was reminded of these words from Scott Sauls’ book, “Regardless of whether [words of affirmation] is your love language, this desire is in us all, and we never outgrow it. We want to be praised and noticed. In its purest form, this is good and even godlike.”

I am so quick to find fault in myself and pretty much each and every natural tendency I have, that I often fail to see the goodness of Christ in me. Does not Genesis tell me that God declared all of his creation good? And am I not his beloved creation?

So yes, while I can and do twist the good things and fall into sin and seek my worth and find my validation in the words of others, I am not a hopeless case. My task is to continually speak the truth of the gospel to my wandering heart. To remember that I do have worth. I have a stamp of approval from the all-powerful creator of the universe. I am my beloved’s and he is mine. I can rest in the finished work of Christ instead of hustling and trying harder.

I threw away all of the papers and all of the awards. There are eternal words for me to cling to.