Saturday, December 24, 2011

To Heal - Christmas 2011

Tonight I sat in service, yes its the 23rd ... but tomorrow is going to be PACKED so, I caught service tonight so I can focus on the hundreds of kids and families that will come through the doors tomorrow.

I was partially distracted.  Not because I had volunteers and kids in the wing on the opposite side of the building, but distracted by this past year, by the hurts, the transitions, the craziness and reality that things today aren't the way I pictured them a year ago.

Last Christmas was HARD ... as in funeral hard on December 23rd.  Compared to last year, today looks a lot different, although I won't say its all better.

You see, there's a reality that Christmas IS about Christ, but its also that yearly reminder that life isn't how we think it should be or the way it should look - our plans aren't our own, they are His. 

So tonight, admist my distraction and wandering mind I saw four words on a massive screen...

He came... HEAL

Yes, Jesus came not only to love, to save, to reconcile, but He came to heal, and not just physically heal, but emotionally, relationally, and any other way that we need healing - if only we seek Him.

It was in that moment that I realized that I've spent this past year thinking that my problems are too small, too silly for God.  That He doesn't care about my family - that its just the way it is.  So, as I move forward into 2012 I am reminded that Christ cares about every detail of our life.  And that no problem is too small, or too complicated, or anything else - because of an infant and a stable and a starry night thousands of years ago - He came to heal.

As you celebrate this Christmas Season remember that for many this season brings about a lot of grief and a reminder that life isn't the way they pictured it.  Their family isn't what they dreamed of.  They're missing loved ones who are no longer here.  They have  broken relationships.  Whatever it may be - He came to heal. To heal not only the physical, but the emotional, the relational, the very details of our life that sometimes seem like a bother to God - HE CAME TO HEAL.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


There is an image that keeps replaying in my mind.  An image of one of our volunteers in our ministry at the services for one of the kids in our ministry who passed away. 

That was 12 days ago.

Tomorrow, we'll gather once again, but this time we'll be saying goodbye to one of our volunteers, and the son of the volunteer who attended the services, 12 days ago.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around the death of a child and now the death of a volunteer.

Had you told me two weeks ago that we would be gathering for a funeral exactly two weeks later I would have never believed you.  But I do know that God's plan is greater, stronger, and bigger than the things that we can understand.

We don't know what tomorrow holds, that has been so evident this past year as we have walked through tragedy after tragedy ... tomorrow isn't guaranteed.  So live ... life fully as God intended you to ... chase dreams and just live!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

10 Years (Part 1)

Tomorrow is a big day, but today I've been reflecting on how big of a day today is.  Ten years ago today was the last day we took our safety for granted, it was the day before the word "terrorism" entered our lives, it was a day when we believed we were invincible. 

Ultimately, it is a symbol of how quickly life changes.

Ten years ago today, Osama Bin Laden was only a person who sent us video messages and terrorism was something that happened in other countries.  We walked freely through airports and didn't worry about the person next to us. 

It was a Monday, a normal Monday ... I went off to high school and had band practice afterward.  Seven classes and homework.  We went to bed that night in a world that seemed safe, because we were Americans.

On September 10th, 2001 we had a sense of security ... we were living a fake life, naive of the things of the world.  Tomorrow is the day the innocence of a generation was taken, lives were taken, and the world changed.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Well Done


This week has been tough.  Wednesday evening, Jake went home to be with Jesus.

I'll never forget hearing his mother say during his final hours ... "Jesus is going to say, well done my good and faithful servant" ... it was a powerful moment and so true of the person Jake was during the past seven years.  Jake has ministered to thousands through his dream of giving Pillow Pets to sick children.  He didn't let his age stop him and became a spokesperson for sick children.

Over the last several months there have been so many amazing and painful moments. But, as things came to a close this past week  I've reflected on the things I've learned this past year and the ways the Jake has impacted my life.

Ultimately, Jake and his family has taught me to live life ... to go to the store and get ice cream just because, to take a vacation even when you don't have the time or money, to go home and spend time with family, to be with friends even when you don't have the time, to do the things you enjoy ... to simply live life and not let the limitations of money, time, people, etc stop you!

Jake ... I'll miss you, I'll miss your heart and the way you genuinely loved people and animals, I'll miss you hanging out with me in the hallway during the 11a service when you didn't feel like being in your class, but still wanted to be at church, I'll miss your stories about frogs and bugs and your love for life.  You are an amazing kid!

Hug your kids tonight!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Music Monday


Sugarland's Tribute to Indiana...and a beautiful song I've always loved

Friday, August 19, 2011


"the stage just blew over" ... those were the words I read on Facebook almost a week ago as the Indiana State Fair Stage collapsed just prior to a strong thunderstorm. 

While I had many friends at the concert that night, I myself was out of town ... knowing I would have been there, maybe not in the grandstand, but just outside listening just like last year had I been in town. 

As I walked the streets of Gatlinburg, Tennessee ... I quickly saw the power of social media.  Word spread quickly, I knew my friends were okay and stories of pure heroism emerged quickly through tweets, photos, and posts.

There was no waiting for the "breaking news" anymore ... my friends were reporting the event there in my newsfeed. 

As I returned home a few days after the event I began to talk to friends about the stage collapse and quickly gathered that some of them didn't have the same opinions I shared on the event.  As we talked I began to learn that their opinions were coming from their friend's posts on Facebook and Twitter.  I began to think about how we allow others to influence us ... both good and bad. 

We are no longer influenced by the crowd we run around with, but instead by the crowd that is constantly in our newsfeed each time we log on ...

so who are you allowing to influence you?  Is it a Christ-like influence?  Who are you influencing?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011



It is in the silence where I find myself truly connecting with God.  Our everyday lives are busy ... I mean BUSY, but I have been challenged this week to find times where I can be silent, alone, and reconnect with God.  It is something I need to do.

This morning I read this verse in 1 Peter 4:7 ... "The end of all things is near. So keep a clear mind. Control yourselves. Then you can pray"

The words "keep a clear mind" weighed heavy on my heart as I realized that the busyness of life clutters my mind and my heart - it keeps me from connecting with my Creator. 

I've spent the past few days in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina.  There have been moments of quiet, but people always seem to be around.  Then yesterday, I got on my bike ... no radio, no talking, no noise ... and I rode part of the Cade's Cove Loop (truth be told I think I could have done all 11 miles, but that's for another day).  There was no noise, but me, the wind, and the bugs and it was in the moment when I was challenged that in order for me to truly connect with God in the deep way I long for I must get away from everything.  I must plan times to go into the open country and just be alone.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Music Monday

We were blessed with the opportunity to host Jon McLaughlin this past weekend at Northview Church.  I have always loved this song!

This is the same song, but from this past weekend ... hard to see, but beautiful music.

Friday, July 15, 2011


A few nights ago I found myself sitting with a friend, holding her newborn daughter, talking about the tests and appointments that are ahead due to a syndrome she has.  It was late and as we talked the baby's grandma said "I remember getting those pj's for her, it was so hard finding something "gender neutral", but I wanted to get the baby something for Christmas" ... as she finished my friend said ... "wow, Christmas, we had no idea we'd be finding out the baby was a girl two weeks later ... and eight weeks earlier than we had expected".

As those words rang in my ears, I thought back over the past year and how so many who are close to me are in completely different places than they expected to be just a year ago.  Facing challenges and joys they only read about in other peoples stories.

This past week I watched as another friend watched her three children chase lightening bugs in the church parking lot.  As I walked to my car I stopped to watch, knowing that this time next year (without a miracle) she'd only be watching two kids chase lightening bugs.  Yet, a year ago the word cancer had never crossed their lips.

None of us know what lies ahead, we can only live in the present, which is why I feel more strongly than ever that we must live as God intended us to live - joyfully with hearts and minds that long for HIM and hands and feet that do HIS work.

There's been a lot on my heart and mind lately.  While life's been busy, there's been some tough lessons, some beautiful insights, and some amazing intersections throughout the last several months.

I challenge you to live for today, to seek after Christ, and to LOVE as He loves ... you never know what lies ahead.

" filled WITH LOVE that comes from a PURE HEART, a CLEAR CONSCIENCE, and SINCERE FAITH."  1 Timothy 1:5

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

I think its only been in the past couple years that I've truly begun to grasp the meaning of Good Friday.  Growing up we didn't go to church, we celebrated Easter and talked about Jesus a little and family and easter baskets a whole bunch.  To me, Easter meant my dad came to get us for a few hours ... it was just another holiday.

But in the past couple years I've come to realize that there is no Easter without Good Friday.  Today is the reason that we can celebrate on Sunday, because without today there is no Sunday.

Tonight I attended a Good Friday service at a local church, it is something that I have chosen to make a priority in my life during this time of year.  Working in the local church, Easter Sunday is a busy time.  It is a time when we celebrate publicly - making sure rooms are staffed, children are safe, and those attending the services have the best experience possible.  But on Good Friday, it is a time when I can personally reflect on the events of this season and the sacrifice that Jesus made for each of us.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Music Monday

This is "Tunnel" by Third Day ... it is a song they sang last week while we were at Riley.  What I loved about the 2 songs they sang ... in addition to the Third Day Classic "Old McDonald"... was that they really thought through their song selection and sang two songs that that were so appropriate to the feelings of the families there in that lobby.  This is one of the two they sang.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Spring Forward

Tonight is the night where we get a little less sleep ... don't forget to turn your clock forward!

Friday, March 11, 2011


Now that I've begun writing this for the third time I'm going to be honest ... I'm speechless and in complete awe of a Maker who knows every detail of every situation.  The past four months haven't been easy.  We've been walking the road of Childhood Cancer with two kiddos in our ministry ... two kiddos who were diagnosed the same week and two families who in a moment their lives were changed forever.

Throughout this journey there have been moments that seemed hopeless, but in those moments we've seen God move in mighty ways.

One of the things that has happened over the past month has been a simple Pillow Pet Collection.  It began with a 7-year olds dream to give 1,000 other kids at Riley a Pillow Pet ... the same toy that he himself loves to play with and then snuggle during his own treatments.  As I put together the flier to promote to our families that we would be collecting the Pillow Pets I remember thinking "I hope we can help him get to 1,000" ... "wonder if anyone will bring these in" ... "when we collected Build-A-Bears for a local children's shelter we got 75 ... hopefully we'll get at least that many".

I shouldn't have put God in such a small box.

It wasn't long after that day that I was being pulled from our Children's Staff Meeting to speak with a rep from KLOVE (headquartered here in Indy) - as I sat there with another co-worker she explained to me how they had heard about the little boy and the collection, called Applebee's and wanted to know if we would be okay with them helping!

Sure ... why not - it sounded great ... a radio ad here in Indy and then the day after the concert they would talk about Jake and the Pillow Pets and share his story nation-wide on the morning show.

The following Monday I had a txt from my brother in Columbus, Ohio telling me he heard about the little boy from the church ... that was the moment I knew God was going to do much more through this little boy and some Pillow Pets than we had ever imagined.

See what God does in tomorrow's post!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Music Monday

Powerful words to this song ... don't just sit and let others serve ... jump in and get involved!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Jake Update

So, you might have seen this post a few weeks ago ... "Jake" ... well, what began as a small, simple way to help a few kids here in Indy seems to be inspiring a nation.  Over the past few days I've been blown away by the people who I've heard from all around the United States!  People starting their own collections for their local children's hospitals, shipping Pillow Pets for distribution, and just being inspired to love others.  It is a story that ONLY God could have ever created or imagined!

Today Jake was featured on local TV here ...

And on the Pillow Pets Blog here ...

And on KLOVE here ...

Like I said ... only a story God could create.  I don't know why God chose Jake to tell HIS story, but He has and the past few months a simple little boy from a small town has changed my life and reminded me what's truly important.

Day 1 - Me & 15 Facts


1. I'm a BUCKEYE that fell off the tree on the wrong side of the stateline, which apparently makes me a hoosier, but I still consider myself a Buckeye

2.  I work in the local church with 0-5 year olds - my job involves 400-500 kiddos each weekend and nearly 400 volunteers rotating through 3 service schedules each month

3.  I have a teaching license in the Buckeye State, but went straight into ministry after college

4.  My Early Childhood / Preschool Special Education degree is from Cedarville University

5.  I've never broken a bone BUT have torn a retina and a few other things resulting in a severe knee injury

6. Bayley is my English Bulldog ... she's pretty cool ... and stubborn!

7. I am terrified of heights ... and bungee cords

8. I've played softball since I was 4, never missed a season (even through MANY years of severe knee problems/surgeries) ... thats about 22 years of playing ball!

9. I turn to Diet Coke when I'm stressed ... and McDonald's Diet Coke if I'm REALLY stressed :-)

10.  I want to live my life in a way that brings others to Christ's love - that they know His love and experience it

11. Well, this is my FAVORITE number ... the number I've worn nearly EVERY softball season, including 4 varsity seasons!  It's Barry Larkin's number too :-)

12.  I LOVE the color blue ... and photography

13.  I've been on a Special Wish Trip as a caregiver and met President Bush (the second one, during his first term)

14.  I have some of the best friends and family anyone could ask for

15. I'm frugal - always looking for a good deal :-)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Who's Problem?

The post below arrived in my inbox this morning from "The Inclusive Church" Blog and I think it nailed some of the frustration that I sometimes feel, but have never seemed to be able to find the words to explain. 

The "it's not my problem" attitude is one that can creep into our lives at any point and in any circumstance and is one that we must constantly keep in check, search our hearts for, and ask God to help us be truly compassionate for those whom we serve. 

Special needs, circumstances, etc isn't the "problem" of the person who holds the job title of the position ... we're all called to love and serve those in the local church and in our community - NO ONE is anyone's "problem" - they're all people created in God's image and no matter what position you hold or what the title that follows your name says it's about loving everyone, serving everyone, and making a difference in the lives of people whom God has created. 

Enjoy the post below, check your heart and wrestle with the information and discussions that it brings to mind.

"Embracing a family affected by special needs and intertwining them into the fabric of a congregation often occur because of a shared ownership between any set of ministries or staff members.  Conversely, if the “not my area of responsibility” mentality creeps into the mindset of any single staff member or lay leader, efforts to include children with special needs are poised to fail."

Monday, February 28, 2011

Check It Out

Here's a Guest Post I wrote @ Empower Families ... go check it out!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday


Monday, February 14, 2011

Learning to Love Again

Somewhere along my years in college - helping hurt.  And I mean HURT. 

In the name of "serving, loving, helping" - something like that it hurt.  I was taken advantage of and it left the last two years of college simply miserable. 

I won't go into all the details, but ultimately, it left me with a guarded heart.  A heart that wanted to "check you out" before I helped, before I loved, sometimes even before I cared.

Over the years I've known that this isn't God's desire for our lives. 

He doesn't desire for us to be hurt - ultimately, though - because of sin - sometimes we are.

He does desire for us to love, to serve, to reflect Him in our actions. 

Ultimately, through this situation I've learned that you have to love, even when you've been hurt - its hard - but we are called to love others.  It's important to be careful and not to allow others to take advantage of you, to set boundaries and stick to them, even when it seems nearly impossible - but its important to not miss out on the love God has for us through serving others.

So, today on this Valentine's Day, I'm reflecting with a little less guarded heart, a heart that is healing from a massive hurt, and a desire to spend the next year continuing to love others.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Favorite Super Bowl Commercial

This was probably one of the more creative Super Bowl Commercials that has been produced in the past few years!   I am sure there are little boys all over america running around in Darth Vader suits today using "the force"!

I'm sure this little guy I took trick-or-treating this past fall has already tried "the force" out today!

Sunday, February 6, 2011


This is my buddy Jake. 

Last June, God began to cross my path and his mom's path through a simple conversation about his younger brother.  In July, God crossed another path with another coworker at church.  By October I was standing in our children's ministry hallway looking into the eyes of parents who had been dealt an unimaginable blow.  Jake has cancer.  Without a miracle, Jake's time here on earth will be short.

Through the pain has come perspective.  A perspective on life that I began to peer into four years ago when I found myself holding a four year old in his mother's hospital room as she slipped into the arms of Jesus - it was a time when I began to truly grasp the effects of cancer and the reality that we aren't guaranteed eighty years.  In fact, we aren't guaranteed the next eighty seconds.

Sometimes, I find myself thinking "Jake probably won't experience next year's Christmas, next year's super bowl, etc", but do any of us really know if we'll experience tomorrow?

As I've spent time with Jake and his mom and dad and siblings over the past several months I've not only walked along with them through their journey, but also seen the reality and effects of cancer on many families and many children at Riley.  The 5th floor is the cancer floor - it is a floor that you hope you never have to press the elevator button to ... and when you do, everyone looks at you with a sadness, knowing that you are somehow connected to a child with cancer.

Yet, through the ashes is beauty.  Jake has a heart that is impacting others and helping other children at Riley.  Even as he undergoes his own cancer treatments, he spends a little extra time at Riley handing out Pillow Pets to kids in the hospital, undergoing the same treatments he is.  Not thinking about his own situation, but instead loving and helping others - knowing first hand how each of these children are feeling.

This past weekend on the Northview Blog there was an incredible article posted about Jake and his servant's heart.  He and Northview will be collecting Pillow Pets over the next two months for the kids at Riley - the goal is 1,000 of the plush pillows - so far he has nearly 200! 

As Jake walks this road pray for him, pray for healing, for understanding, and for comfort.  Pray that he has the strength to visit family in Florida in a few months and that others are impacted by his story.

You can read Jake's article here: Jake's Compassion

And if you would like to help, Pillow Pets can be dropped off at Northview.  There is also a fund at 5th/3rd Bank for donations - "Jacob McConahay" is the account name.

Jake's Caringbridge (follow Jake's story here!)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Beach


The beach, to me it is one of the last places on earth where you can truly sit and soak in God's creation, without the interruption of man-made things.  Looking straight out from the sand there is nothing but God, no skyscrapers, roads, or anything else to affect the view.  There are few places like this left in the world - the mountains are another place, but there is something about the majesty of the ocean that is overwhelming.

In July of 2002 I remember sitting in complete darkness on a beach in South Africa listening to the waves roll in.  It was a  night that I will never forget.  It was the night that the God I worship here in America became real to me.  He became the same God that was there with me half a world away.  I was listening to waves crash on the other side of the world, just like on my side of the world.  And the stars, well those were incredible and only added to the moment ... but this post is truly about the beach :-)

Tonight I came to Job 38:8-11

"Who kept the sea inside its boundaries as it burst from the womb, and as I clothed it with clouds and wrapped it in thick darkness?  For I locked it behind barred gates, limiting its shores.  I said, 'This far and no father will you come.  Here your proud waves must stop!

The sea is an incredibly majestic place.  Each time I walk along the sand and listen to the waves I am reminded of God's intricate details - the grains of sand and the shoreline - how He decided just how far the ocean would come and where the shore would begin.'