Archive for the ‘Seeing Jesus’ Category

Grief Observed

Monday, August 31st, 2015


“Everybody wants you to be okay.”

A good friend of mine says this to me often. It’s her observation on sadness.

Sadness makes the people around you uncomfortable. It’s awkward. It makes people feel like they should say something, but what?

Unfortunately, being uncomfortable with sadness is alive and well in the Church, even though the Bible recounts story after story of blood, sweat, and tears. In Philippians Chapter 3, Paul reminds us that secret of knowing Christ is “to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”

In other words, there is no resurrection without death, no death without pain. That means, to know Christ—to really know Him and the power of His resurrection—it will hurt. We will suffer. It’s not an “if”, but a “when.”

claireandsean sunflare


 “There is no resurrection without death, no death without pain. “

Of all people, Christians should “do sadness well,” but I think sometimes we don’t  because we’re confused. We know we’ve been given this beautiful gift—this HOPE, that is an anchor for our souls–that does not disappoint. Like my friend Kristi says so pointedly: this “hope is not a commodity, it’s a Person.” His name is Jesus.

So, yes, we do not grieve likes ones without hope, but that doesn’t mean we don’t hurt. But I think we believe that if we have Jesus, he’s the band-aid for all our wounds. We can smile even when we hurt, because we have Jesus.

The problem is that Jesus isn’t a Mickey Mouse band-aid that instantly soothes our scrapped knees. He’s the master Physician—the Great Surgeon—who cuts deep to fix what is really wrong, so that real healing can take place.


“We do not grieve like ones without hope, but that doesn’t mean we don’t hurt.”

This summer, my family moved to a new town. At our new church, I stood singing familiar hymns,  songs sung for hundreds of years, but I sang them in a new place with new people. As I sang, I felt tempted to not let sadness overwhelm me (especially NOT in front of others)—I wanted to “be okay.”

But then I was reminded that this is not Jesus’ design for us—to hide our humanity, to paste on a smile, to always be okay. But, His plan IS to transform the suffering into resurrection, the weeping into joy, the deserts into streams of water.

What I really want, though, is the second part without the first, but it doesn’t work that way.


Our pastor recently reminded us of Psalm 84:

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,

whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.

As they pass through the Valley of Baka (weeping),

they make it a place of springs;

the autumn rains also cover it with pools.

They go from strength to strength,

till each appears before God in Zion.

A funny little thing happened after that. I started seeing “pools in the desert” all over the place. He hasn’t necessarily taken the hard parts away, but He’s sustained me, even poured out His blessings on Me, in the middle of it.

That’s how He is.

He doesn’t want me to “be okay.” He wants me to weep when it’s hard, and then train my eye to see the GRACE He offers–the pools in the desert.

After a night of little sleep, I told a friend of mine that I didn’t think I’d be able to see the pools that day, because my goggles were foggy. WE had a good laugh over that.

I suppose that’s part of the pilgrimage, too. Knowing that I won’t always trust perfectly, but He will faithfully wipe the fog away from my Dollar Store goggles, and  even replace them with a new pair. (Speedos, perhaps?)

-As they pass through the valley of Weeping, the autumn rains cover it with pools…


Pressing In.

Thursday, January 1st, 2015



Happy 2015!

As I press into a new year, I’m reminded of ways that my heart has been pressed, challenged, and encouraged by the gift of writing (and thinking) God has bestowed on others.

I love the way words are put together. And, if you follow my blog at all, you know that I love to share quotes from things I’ve read recently.

I was particularly blown away by one of the final paragraphs in Gilead, which I just finished a few days ago:

“It has seemed to me sometimes as though the Lord breathes on this poor gray ember of Creation and it turns to radiance – for a moment or a year or the span of a life. And then it sinks back into itself again, and to look at it no one would know it had anything to do with fire, or light …. Wherever you turn your eyes the world can shine like transfiguration. You don’t have to bring a thing to it except a little willingness to see. Only, who could have the courage to see it?”

This quote reminds me of a brave woman, who many of us know well through her writing–Kara Tippets–who has fought the good fight, who has run the race well, because she has had the willingness and courage to really SEE.

// May I be willing to SEE this coming year. //

Snowy Wreath

Another thought that stays deep came from my husband on a Sunday morning:

“We prefer the weight of guilt, because we don’t know what to do with the lightness of the gospel.”

G.K. Chesterton puts it this way:

“It’s easy to be heavy, hard to be light.”

I want to press in to this truth this year, to SEE in deeper ways the lightness of the gospel.

Three words come to mind as I think of what could happen if I really accepted this lightness: JOY. FREEDOM. THANKFULNESS.

// May I see joy, freedom, and thankfulness through the lightness of the gospel this coming year. //


Finally, I stumbled upon this tweet this summer:



A pastor-friend of mine once told Duane and me that life is mostly lived in the white spaces, in the waiting between big events.

This truth is hard to accept. I want the big events, but life is really lived in the waiting. It IS a mixture of hope and disappointment, but that’s okay. The groaning and the hope prove that we have real hearts.

// May I have an engaged heart in the white spaces of waiting this coming year. //

Happy New Year to all of you. Thanks for reading.

* * * * * * * *

What resonated with you this year?

What would you like to truly SEE this coming year?

Merry Christmas, indeed.

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Davis Fam Christmas Card 2014



Merry Christmas!

I am thankful for this upcoming week–a week of wrapping, gift-giving, too many cookies, singing Christmas songs in the kitchen, comfort food, too many cookies, parties, and friends.

But even more, I’m thankful for a God who constantly surprises me with His grace, even in my sin and weakness.

I was on a desperate search for grace this weekend after several botched parenting moments, weighed down with the guilt of not living up to a standard of kindness I want in myself and in my children.

But grace comes, it always does.

Sometimes I  just have to develop an eye for it…

It came through honest questions about Jesus from my oldest in a late night conversation. It came through a husband who accepts me just as I am ALWAYS.  It came through a Sunday morning sermon. (Listen here.)

2 Corinthians 1:20- “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. “


Since Jesus has fulfilled every one of God’s promises, we now live in the Yes–the YES that God is for us and always at work for our good. All we have to do is receive, to speak the Amen–Let it Be So–because the work is finished.

So, can you and I be set free from a life of regret? YES!

Can you and I forgive and be forgiven? YES!

Can you and I be accepted always, every morning, even in our weak attempts at righteousness, in the middle of our sinfulness? YES!

Jesus has the quintessential “Yes” face. He rejoices over His people with singing and His mercies are new every morning.

I can’t think of a better Christmas present. 

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!


Merry Christmas, indeed.



Advent 2014

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014



I don’t know  about you, but I’m excited about Advent this year. Maybe it’s the miniature stocking line I bought last year to hang on the mantle so we can visibly  count down the days to Christmas. I bought mini-treats to fill these cute little stockings today, and I plan on stuffing them with Scripture that follows along with our church’s Advent Devotional, too.



This year, our Advent sermon series comes from 2 Corinthians 1.

Duane wrote the first devotional, and I was simply amazed after reading it. Amazed at a compassionate Jesus, a no-holds-barred Paul, and a simple man using his writing gifts to make the beautiful work of Christ known.

Once I read it, I knew I had to share it. (Then, I promptly freaked out because I realized that I had to write the devotional on the very next passage–tough act to follow.)

Ah, well.

I hope your Advent season is full of seeing Jesus in bigger, clearer, and fuller ways.


The God of All Comfort

2 Cor 1:1-7

“I dream to heal your wounds, but I bleed myself.” – Sunny Day Real Estate, “In Circles”

You’ve probably felt this way at some point in your life.  “I can’t do another thing.”  “I’m too tired.”  I’ve been hurt too badly to help anyone else.”  When everyone shares this sentiment, the church starts to look like a battle field, littered with dying soldiers writhing in pain.

Paul, however, promotes an alternate vision: “God…comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction…” (2 Cor 1:3-4).  Suffering in this life is certain—a given.  But for those who follow Jesus, dying and rising with him, suffering takes on a new meaning and becomes the conduit for loving like he does.  Perhaps Paul would have written: “I work to heal your wounds because I bleed myself.” 

We run the risk again this year of remaining the forever wounded, of doing nothing but dreaming about healing.  If so, paganism has triumphed rather than Christianity because, as Paul Miller argues, paganism is simply evil management, an attempt to keep things safe, a way to lessen the bleeding.  Jesus, on the contrary, Miller says: “is the massive center of surprise.”  When he arrives, God arrives in surprisingly human ways: hidden in a dark womb, confined to a dirty manger, obligated to unsuspecting parents.  He cries, bleeds, and dies “to heal your wounds.”

Let the church then not remain a battle field, littered with dying soldiers writhing in pain, but become an army of the walking wounded—a mobile hospital for sinners caring compassionately for others in the name of Jesus, whose father is “the God of all comfort” (2 Cor 1:3).

Father, comfort us in every affliction by revealing to us the power of Jesus’ affliction.  And help us to comfort others around us who need comfort with the comfort we have received in his resurrection.  Amen.


(I told you it was good.)

 * * * * * * * * * *

What are your Advent traditions?

Do you have a favorite Advent devotional?

I’d love to hear what you do during the Advent season in the comments below.

Parenting in Weakness: A 3-part Series

Monday, April 28th, 2014


So, for the next 3 weeks, I’ve decided to post a series of 3 articles on Parenting. I’ve called it Parenting in Weakness, because that’s what I’m good at–weakness. I’m not a parenting guru. I’m often disappointed by my inconsistency. I often wish I was more structured, more creative, more ______________. But Jesus DOES speak to my heart in this parenting gig, and if I slow down long enough, I hear Him.

The truth is that Jesus is transforming weak people, because that’s all He has. And that’s what He’s good at. Here’s the first part in that Story:


It happened one day while I was changing sheets. I lifted the pillow and saw a pile of gold, shiny wrappers. My eyes followed the trail to the floor behind the headboard. More gold, shiny, EMPTY wrappers. Someone enjoyed a major bout of candy consumption in secret.

There’s a phrase we use in our house: if you’re doing something in secret, it probably means it’s wrong. I mean, not even “probably”, more like there’s a 99.9% chance that it’s wrong. My kids are just like yours (and we’re just like them, but that’s another story). They hide the things they don’t want other people to see.

I’ve prided myself on applying this little nugget of truth about human nature to my children’s lives. It’s true. Secrecy should raise a red flag. But something was gnawing at me last week. Just because they understand something is wrong doesn’t mean they’ll actually do something about it. Perhaps, unintentionally, I’d even heaped more guilt on their fragile hearts.

So, in a moment when I was quiet enough to hear the Spirit’s whisper, I tweaked my prized parenting philosophy to: if you’re doing something in secret, ask for help. If you’re hiding, SEEK. Because really, I want to be a safe place for my children to ask for help in temptation and even full blown sin, because that’s what Jesus offers me, nothing less. I don’t just want the alarm to go off and scream: that’s wrong! I wan’t them to have a helper in their time of need and right now, in this stage of their lives, I’m Jesus’ representative of grace, mercy, and help to them.

Sadly, the truth is that their sin inconveniences me, so I’m not always the safe place I long to be. I get angry with their repeated sin, but you probably don’t notice, because it’s in secret. And this is where we’re really in the same boat as our children. We need Jesus to enter into the secret places to show us that he’s better than a thousand pieces of candy or the control and ease I long for.


“It is important to tell at least from time to time the secret of who we truly and fully are . . . because otherwise we run the risk of losing track of who we truly and fully are and little by little come to accept instead the highly edited version which we put forth in hope that the world will find it more acceptable than the real thing.” –Frederick Buechner, Telling Secrets

Part 2: That’s Not Fair

Part 3: Know Your Kids

Friday Favorites: Good Friday edition

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Friday Favorites

Good morning.

It’s Good Friday, the day we mourn the crucifixion of Jesus.

It’s also Stephen’s 8th birthday (why do they keep getting older?). A few days ago, Stephen said to me: “Mom, I wish my birthday was on Easter, because that’s when Jesus rose from the dead. ” Yes!

A couple of days later, he told me that his stuffed animal, PJ, was the preacher on the ship that all the other stuffed animals ride on. I love this kid’s mind, but even more, I love what the Sprit is doing in his heart.

Easter is my absolute favorite day of the year. Not because of floral prints, or white sandals with painted toenails, or even chocolate bunnies (well, maybe if they’re Godiva).  Easter is the most joyful celebration of Jesus we have this side of heaven. I wake the kids up every Easter morning by exclaiming: Christ is Risen! And they respond in their sleepy voices: He is risen indeed! Then, I can hardly wait for the worship service, when it seems like our voices raise even higher and we could sing forever. I’m pretty sure I could sing “Up from the Grave He Arose” twenty times and not be bored.

ThriveMoms tweeted this week, asking what songs prepare you most for Good Friday and Easter. One song that I love is Keith and Kristin Getty’s See What a Morning. But, here’s a song that you may not sing in church by All Sons and Daughters called Buried in the Grave.

There was a day we held our breath
And felt the sting of bitter death
When all our hopes were buried in the grave
Our eyes awake our hearts were torn
Between our faith and what we knew
Before our king was buried in the grave

There was a day we looked for proof
That you had risen from the tomb
And all our doubts began to roll away
We touched the scars upon your hands
You kept your word
Oh son of man
You buried death by taking on the grave.

Just beautiful.

I hope you have time to slow down and reflect this weekend on the work Jesus did on our behalf. I’ll be wrapping presents, baking a cake, stuffing eggs, but with Joy in my heart because Christ is Risen. He is risen, indeed.

I’ll leave you with a couple of lines from another divine songwriter of sorts, John Donne.
He’s a bit older than All Sons and Daughters. : )

From Resurrection, imperfect.

“Sleep sleep old Sun, thou canst have repast
As yet, the wound thou took’st on Friday last;
Sleepe then, and rest; The world may bear thy stay,
A better Sun rose before thee today.”

*Friday favorites graphic inspired by the PicMonkey blog: Graphic Design for Weddings

the things we do for L O V E

Monday, April 7th, 2014

The Things We Do For Love

Two days ago, we woke up at 4:30am, stumbled bleary-eyed into the shower, then crammed all 4 sleep-walking kids into the minivan for a 12-hour drive to an award ceremony for our daughter. If you follow the blog at all, you know that Abby won 2nd place in her age bracket in the Carl Sandburg student poetry contest. Shortly after we found out that she won, we also found out that the reception would take place while we were away for spring break. Erg.

Duane and I were really disappointed, but immediately thought that we just couldn’t do it. We’d had the trip planned for many months. I couldn’t get it off my mind, though. I asked the teacher what the reception would be like. She told me via email that there would be a published poet there to speak to the kids, each winner would receive a journal, and they would have the opportunity to read the poems out loud. While I was reading her email, Duane happened to run into the teacher at the kids’ school and she told him the same thing. He came home, we looked each other in the eye, and agreed: she needs to go.

There were many things we needed to forfeit to make it happen: a leisurely cup of coffee before we hit the road (who am I kidding? We have 4 kids. Leisurely is NOT part of our vocabulary), a hot breakfast, SLEEP, and 4 kids slumbering peacefully well beyond the crack of dawn. Is there anything worse than waking sleeping children?

So, there we were… on the highway… in the dark… at 530am…with 4 kids. Now many of you have done this kind of thing before. You travel through the night so you miss the traffic (you’re crazy) or you wake up super early to get a head start (you’re also crazy). We don’t. We like to sleep. We pack the car in the morning when the sun is in the sky, NOT the moon. We like our “leisurely” cup of coffee.

So, why did we move mountains (intentional hyperbole) to get her there? We knew that this ceremony would be an invaluable experience for her. It would affirm her gifts as a writer, give her a chance to speak in front of others–a valuable skill, and most importantly, it would be an opportunity to celebrate with her and the other winners.
The things we do for love.


She took her place at the podium, barely reaching the microphone. She self-consciously tucked her hair behind her ears and began to read. As I watched, I wondered what God was up to. Would this event be a significant marker in her life when she retells the story that God is writing for her one day? I didn’t cry; I wanted to, but I knew she’d be embarrassed. The things we do for love.

I smiled a lot and took lots of pictures, then smiled some more. Her teacher came and cheered her on. Good friends came to celebrate, too, and even brought us dinner so we didn’t have to stop on our manic 12-hour mission to get there on time.

As we sat at the picnic benches eating dinner with our friends before the ceremony, Abby emphatically stated that her mom did NOT help her with the poem. And she’s right. It was a project between her and her (wonderful) teacher. I was tempted to defend myself– all the years of reading Goodnight Moon and Three by the Sea at bedtime, countless hours of listening to books on CD, her learning to read on my lap while I taught Aidan to read. But instead, I remained silent. It’s her time.

And I can relate, because I’m a child myself. We never really know all that our parents have done for us.

So I just smiled and agreed.

The things we do for LOVE.

*Read Abby’s poem here.

Abby Poetry

Repentance of the Heart

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Lately, I’ve been noticing a trend. Not on Twitter, but in my heart.  The pesky people that wrote Gospel-Centered Life, as well as the illuminating power of the Holy Spirt, made me realize that my repentance is often shallow. In their chapter on repentance, they write piercing truths such as the following:

“…Repentance often becomes more about US than about God or the people we’ve sinned against.  We want to feel better. We want things to be ‘back to normal.’  We want to know that we’ve done our part, so that guilt is assuaged and we can move on with life.”

Knife in heart, twisting slowly.

I love Normal. It’s comfortable. I like to snuggle up next to Normal with a hot cup of coffee and a good book on a really comfy couch. But for Jesus, I’d stay on that couch everyday.

In Luke 6, Jesus says, “Out of the overflow of [the] heart, [the] mouth speaks.” So, whenever we say an unkind word to someone else or think a jealous thought, that should set off an alarm: Something is going on in my heart. Normal, who I love, would quickly have me ask forgiveness for the words I said–which is an important part of repentance. BUT, it’s also time to get off the couch with Normal and address the deep waters of the heart with Jesus.

Yesterday, I received good news about some friends. Outwardly, I was cheerful, but inwardly, I noticed something wasn’t quite right. I could tell I was jealous. (Alarm going off.)

So, what do I do when jealousy creeps in?  I  can  certainly ask God to forgive me for a jealous heart, but I felt Him pressing me to move further. Why was I  jealous? Is it simply because I wanted what they had? Well, yes, that’s part of it. But there’s more. Jealousy often reveals  discontentment and a lack of thankfulness.  Now we’re getting somewhere. In my heart, there resides a forgetfulness of all the ways God has been gracious to me and a resistance to Him as the Writer of my story.

Okay, now Normal has been shoved off the couch and I can begin to offer the sins  of my heart to Jesus. I’ve been reminding my little Stephen that Jesus is a safe place to admit where we’re wrong, to bring Him our sins, and receive his forgiveness. So I need to practice what I preach.

Daily reminder: Jesus is a safe place to unleash the deep waters of my heart.

Have I been thankless? Yes, Jesus forgive me.  Have I been discontent? Yes, Jesus forgive me. Has the disposition of my heart led to jealousy? Yes, Jesus have mercy. Then, I receive his forgiveness with joy and walk in freedom, because those sins have been paid for and nothing, not even my sin or shallow repentance, can separate me from the love of Christ.

Daily reminder #2: “Joy will never come by denying our deep sinfulness; rather it must come by seeing how huge our sin really is and how completely it has been dealt with in Christ.” Barbara Duguid, Extravagant Grace.

Yes! May it be so. May we find joy in bringing our deepest sins to Jesus, knowing that He’s dealt with them on the cross and He’s faithful and just to forgive.



What Does Your Toothbrush Say About You?

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014


Recently, I went to see a periodontist. A what-o-dontist?! A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the supporting structures of the teeth, mainly gums. So, I’ve graduated to the special dentist who tells me I need a $900 “procedure” on my gum(s) because they’re receding. I’m pretty sure once the regular guy can no longer handle my problems, it means I’m getting old.

At the end of the examination, the very nice periodontist said something interesting: “I see women like you all the time. You brush too hard. You want your teeth to be really, really clean and your gums suffer for it.” I laughed nervously. Then I thought to myself, “Did he just say that I have an obsession with brushing my teeth. Really?” Then I said out loud, “Wait, are you saying that only women have this problem with obsessive teeth cleaning?”

“Yes, that’s what I’m saying. I don’t generally see men with this sort of problem.”

WELL! How dare he? But then, ever so slowly, pictures of my toothbrush began to appear in my head with bristles splayed in ever direction.  I run the thing ragged every month. I know it’s time to get a new one when I hear a squeaking noise while I brush, which basically means the edges of the toothbrush are no longer making contact with my teeth.

Other pictures appeared in my mind as well– my mistreated toothbrush next to Duane’s pristine, bristles-all-in-a-neat-row-even-after-months-of-use toothbrush. Okay, maybe this periodontist is on to something.

Since he got to make a blanket statement (from experience, mind you),  I will make one, too–I just won’t get paid $200/hr to say it. Why do we, as women, obsess so much? Why is it so hard to rest? Why do we want our houses so clean and brush our teeth so hard? In general–with exceptions, of course– women are more prone to anxiety and fear than men. We have a hard time doing nothing. I’ve heard countless women say things like: “I can’t just sit down and watch a movie. It feels like a waste of my time.” Furthermore, most of the people I know who don’t sleep well are…women. Why can’t we just relax?

Sure, society places many cultural impositions on women.  Don’t get me started. We’re supposed to weigh 90 pounds to look good in our clothes. When you have a baby, it should only take you 6 weeks to regain a perfect 6-pack a la Sarah Jessica Parker (I never had one in the first place). Our houses should look like the ones on the front cover of Better Homes and Garden. And, lest we forget, we define our liberation as women by our sexual prowess (I started, didn’t I?).

Society hands us a script for what women should be, but we have a choice to be defined by that script or not. We don’t have to prove ourselves through superficial means to be worth something. If your house is messy, great. Clean it up once in a while so your family can function, but it’s not a reflection of your worth. There are countless times I walk past the stairs with all of its little kid piles to be put away (some time in the next 6 months) and feel intense feelings of failure. REALLY? Is that the hill I’m going to die on?

The truth is I could have perfect stairs and be a size 2, but I could be forsaking what’s ultimately worth something: the people around me–my 4 beauties, my husband, my neighbors, and my community. The script that we live by will affect our relationships.

The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3:

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

Paul calls this love “the most excellent way.”

So, how do we begin to define ourselves by a different script? Consider the famous story of the woman at the well in John Chapter 4. The woman has had 5 husbands, she’s shunned by her community, and furthermore, Jewish men rarely socialized with women, certainly not with a Samaritan woman. But Jesus, king of breaking down social/cultural/economic/you-name-it barriers, approached her and talked to her. He knew that she defined herself by the love of a man, revealed by the fact that she’d married 5 times. And he knows that her community shunned her, which is why she’s drawing water from the well at a different time than everyone else.

But the script she’s living by isn’t the script Jesus offers her. He tells her, “Everyone who drinks this water [from the well] will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give Him will never thirst.” Jesus is offering her true satisfaction that comes only from knowing Him–a freedom from seeking acceptance from things that are only passing away.

It’s been a whirlwind of a year for me to learn this truth. I’m not there yet. The call of the skinny, long-legged, fake blonde supermodel battles for my heart. Yet there WILL NEVER BE rest in that call–only a insatiable desire for more. But in Jesus, I have every spiritual blessing in Christ ALWAYS:

I’m loved, forgiven, chosen, adopted, redeemed, accepted, God’s possession, and for the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1). That’s the script God wants you to rest in each day.

So, go and rest. Relax. Watch a movie. Laugh with your kids. Go out on a romantic date with your husband. Call your mother-in-law. Leave dishes in the sink sometimes. Play kickball. And for goodness’ sake, be kind to your toothbrush.