5 Questions About…Disappointment with God

Conrad family-40Emily and her husband Steve are dear friends of ours. I had the delight of working with Steve in ministry and traveling with him in Congo before he knew Emily.  Then, John and I had the privilege of performing their wedding ceremony together!  This remarkable young couple inspire me with their faith and authenticity.  It’s an honor to walk alongside them on their journey!  I asked Emily 5 Questionsbecause I knew she’d be honest and reflect from a heart seeking God.

1.  Over the past year and a half you’ve had an experience that has been deeply painful and disappointing.  Can you describe what happened?

In early 2013, my husband and I got the green light to travel to Congo to meet and pick up the little girl and little boy that we were in the process of adopting. We had spent 13 months previously preparing our home and our family for the addition of 2 more little ones, a little girl 18 months old and a boy 2 ½ years old. Although we knew it would be crazy to have 4 little kids in our home, we felt that adoption was always supposed to be a part of our family’s story and felt that it was a desire that God had placed in our hearts.

We had been prepared for the fact that the little boy we were adopting might be a little older than what we had originally been told, perhaps 6-9 months, however, when we met him in Congo he was clearly at least 6 ½ and was a very angry, emotionally fraught child, quite prone to physically aggressive outbursts. Continue reading

5 Questions About…Infertility

IMG_0002Happy 4th of July!  As you read this, chances are I’ll be with my friend Cathy Wood, watching the parade, or fireworks or laughing about how we both could have been great spies.  There is so much I admire about Cathy.  Her ability to forgive hard things.  Her indomitable positive spirit. Her kindness, and listening ear.  We’ve been in a couples small group for about 25 years and she’s also one of the “7” girls, so I’ve been privileged to walk through a lot of life with her!  All of us either know someone or are someone who has wrestled with a dream to have kids, but an inability to make it happen.  I always benefit from her wisdom, so I’m thankful she agreed to share today!

1. What has been your experience with infertility?
We struggled with infertility and trying to create a family over about a decade.  Although this time is in the rearview mirror of my life, I can readily recall the cycle of doctor appointments, shots, temperature taking and miscarriages…periods of great hope and equally great despair. Thankfully, by the grace of God He brought us thru it all.  He has graciously put our family together thru primary/secondary infertility, adoption and natural birth.

2. What was the hardest thing for you while you struggled with infertility?
I think for me the hardest thing was believing that God was trustworthy and that I could trust him with the outcome. I could pray “ah yes this is a light and momentary trouble” but my heart was breaking. My borders defining God needed to be blown wide open. What did it mean to follow him? My current view wasn’t holding up. I kept thinking that God wanted me to do that “one thing” and then I’d get pregnant. Not sure what that one thing was but I kept trying to guess.

I spent lots of time staring at what I thought was a road block with blinking lights, razor wire and a sign that said ”keep out”. I could see others beyond the gate with children but I couldn’t get there. A turn away from this road to another path was dark and unknown. I had no idea what it would mean or require. I DIDN’T WANT TO GO! The decision really became do I go alone or with God? Slowly and gently (as I am stubborn), God turned my heart towards Him and then the road He had for us.

3. You have had children now, but what would you say to women who maybe are never able to conceive?                                                                                                  “I am so sorry” feels like the only one for me because no feeble attempt by me could make sense this side of heaven. God needs to handle that one. My sincere hope for them would be that they come to know and believe that God loves them and has not lost sight of them.

4. What advice would you give to those who are walking alongside women experiencing infertility?                                                                                                   It is a privilege and holy ground to be let into a person’s life at any time but especially when it is a painful season. Being a safe place to share deep emotions and process is a gift to another. I think it’s a way God redeems our own experiences. Pray, trust God and show up. He’ll do the rest.

5. What did you learn about God and yourself during your season of infertility?
Ha!  Well I would love to say I never doubted… that I have the gift of unshakeable faith but I don’t want to be struck by lightning! I tend to be a bit more of a rebel. What I learned was that God is gracious and merciful. When I began to seek Him, stumble after him and look for Him in the everyday, not just answering this big prayer, I discovered He was there and had been there all the time with small surprises of Himself, the love of friends, reminders of His grace and answered prayer in his time.

Additional Resources Cathy found helpful:

Disappointment With God by Phillip Yancey

If you liked this post, you might also like The Spiritual Discipline of Plan B.

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5 Questions About…God’s Plans For You

Today we start a new Friday series called “5 Questions About…”  image-4

Recently my friend, Lee Hanssen, who is the director of student ministry at our church, (and just happens to be a rodeo rider on the side :)), preached on Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Oh my gosh, have you seen that verse quoted on all the cards everywhere in the history of the world without end amen for anyone who was sad, or getting married, or graduating, or…?  I loved Lee’s message and I wanted him to share some of it with you.

1.  What made you choose this popular verse for your text? Continue reading

Starting in Tel Aviv

Good morning from Tel Aviv!  I wrote on Monday that I’m going to be traveling in Israel/Palestine this week. It’s a trip devoted to entering into the heart of God for peace and reconciliation. Today we’ll spend some time here and in Nazareth.

We just arrived last night so I’m a little fuzzy, but I’m wondering if you might want to join me virtually.  I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to post or how much time I’ll have to reflect, but this morning here was my view from the top of our hotel as I soaked in the goodness of God (that’s pretty easy to do with this view, sunshine and 70 degrees).


As I sat here, these are the words I read.  As you read them, what words stand out to you? Continue reading

Dark Days

This is my view as I write at 5:45 a.m.

photo-66Trouble is I’d have much the same view at 7 a.m., or 4:30 p.m.  It’s just that time of year when everything goes frozen and dark and silent.  It’s a living picture of Advent – that time of waiting in darkness for the Light of the World to appear.

As I write I’m wondering how many people reading this feel like they’re waiting for something.  Longing.  And how many feel like they are in a time of deep darkness when they can’t see anything that makes sense.  Fuzzy outlines, but nothing sure.

Darkness and longing.

Ever heard of night blindness?  

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The Words that Matter

Our friend Sharon always reminds us “Words matter!”

The truthful, timely word, the encouraging word, the destructive one.  They are all composing the story of our life.

Like a mess of Christmas lights though, we often get tangled up in the fearful words.  The “not enough”, “failing grade”, “grim prognosis”, “overwhelming odds” words. Continue reading


Fall in Minnesota is like Mardi Gras.

Actually I don’t know that for sure because I’ve never been to Mardi Gras, but Fall is a huge event.  A blazing last hurrah before THE DEPRIVATION of light and color and warmth for a long, long, time.  Sounds like Mardi Gras to me.

When we left Minneapolis two weeks ago for Africa, the firey autumnal luster was fading but leaves were valiantly clinging to branches, reluctant to give up the fight and die for the long, long, long frozen season of dark.


Spoiler alert: they failed in their efforts.


Now, we return to the black crooked limbs silhouetted against a gray November sky.  The leaves have lost the battle and lay cold on the ground. Twinkle lights try to replace the glow of harvest color and there’s a tug-o-war going on between those who want to start the Christmas carols now and those who don’t want to leap over Thanksgiving straight to the 24 hour holiday sales of the day after. Continue reading

Three Things You Can do When You’re in Transition

photo-53Twenty-seven years ago my husband John and I moved from our home and families in the Chicago area to serve at a church in Washington D.C.  It was a huge change for us.  John was required to attend a seminar on transitions and while he was there he had to take an assessment that assigned points to the the different changes in your life.

POINTS???!  We love points!  We’re a tad competitive :).

For example, we were moving away from family for the first time, expecting a new baby (I was 8 months pregnant when we moved), buying our first house, starting a new job in a new church culture.  Each of these got points assigned to them indicating the amount of pressure in our life.

John came home and said, “Honey, I have good news and bad news.  The good news is, we WON!   We had more points than anyone there!  The bad news is they said we should have been in counseling 50 points ago!” Continue reading

Fear, Small Things, and a Big God

One of the ways God reassures me is to say “do not despise the day of small things.”*  He uses the ordinary, and the overlooked, and the seemingly inconsequential.  And even the things He does with these can go overlooked.  Unnoticed.

I used to think that if it was “of God” it had to be big and bold and dramatic and flashy.  Like a super hero.  But then I learned that if he can use flour and oil, and widows, and dropouts, there’s hope for me.  I’m thankful for that, because my life is mostly a life of “small things”.

But lately I’ve been convicted that I’ve gone too far.  I’m settling for too little. I’m settling for a small god, instead of the real thing.   It’s not me who’s flashy and dramatic, but I can trust in God to do amazing things through me, beyond my ability.

Sometimes He wants to do big things.

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A God of Cat and Mouse Games?

This week I was able to return to a place that is holy for me.  A place where God met me in a powerful way.  It’s a dock by a lake where our friends live in Wisconsin.


The dock is a perfect place to spend some time reading in the early morning.  One of the things I love to do as I read my Bible is to date different promises or commands that have been meaningful to me, connecting with specific circumstances in my life. It’s such an encouragement when I see how personal and alive God’s word is to me – even if it’s convicting.

Many verses are dated with the name of one of our daughters as I have prayed the verses for them. Next to Psalm 16:8 is 10/9/09 and “Katy -job”.

Other verses (like Is. 42:13 and Is. 43:18,19) have dates with notes about prayers for guidance.

Psalm 9:9 says, “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” Next to it is written “Haiti”.

One of the most meaningful and important notations in my Bible is next to Matthew 7: 9-11. I wrote, “Bere’s dock, August 15, 2004.”

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