RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Dr Pepper Friend


From my freshman year of college up to today (a total of 12 years), I have constantly had a “Dr. Pepper Friend.” A few people have filled this job over the years, but someone is always in this position.

What exactly, you might ask, is a Dr. Pepper Friend?

Well, see, I have this problem. Some people have soap operas; others have teenage pop music. My guilty pleasure is a nice Sonic Dr. Pepper (or Chick fil A…or Chuy’s). I know it’s bad for me, full of sugar and high fructose corn syrup. I know it’s rife with empty calories. Yada yada yada. It just tastes so good.

So over the years I have always had a friend who makes me feel better about my habit. We bring them to each other. We both order one at dinner. We make excuses for why it’s really okay–“you’ve had a bad day” or “you’ll never get through without it” or “the baby’s not sleeping so you really deserve this.”

Many times I’ve cut back and tried to quit, but then there’s always a friend. I can’t let her down. I don’t want to leave her behind. We’re in this together.

So I blame the friend in my mind. If only they just didn’t enable me, I could quit.

I know it’s probably obvious to anyone reading this what the real problem is here. It is completely embarrassing that it has taken me 12 years to figure it out: I’m the Dr. Pepper Friend.

I have dragged down several addicts along with me over the years through my enabling. There is one common denominator–me.

I was thinking about this recently and realized it’s not just Dr. Pepper. I’m an enabler in many other ways. I don’t know the exact reason. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to face my own sin. Maybe I truly want my friends to feel better. Maybe I just run from confrontation (metaphorically, not literally, although I had a friend in college who, on multiple occasions, literally ran from confrontation).

Regardless of the reasons, over the years I have made excuses for my own sin and that of my friends.

My language has been:

“You deserve this”

“You need this”

“Well it’s not really that bad”

“Well yes, but you were hurting”

Really, the list could go on. The point is, I don’t like talking about sin with people I claim to love. I don’t want to shame them.

But minimizing sin does not alleviate shame.

And so I’m praying God will make me a better friend. There is no love in telling my friends their sin is not really sin. There is no love in making excuses for them. And there’s no love in wanting them to do the same for me.

The way to alleviate shame is not through minimizing our friends’ sin, but through magnifying their Savior. 

In his book, Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself, Joe Thorn writes about the memory of sin:

Look, the memory of your sins is no cause to beat yourself up and wallow in guilt. Instead, it should lead you to rejoice in the redemption you have in Jesus. […] And in remembering these sins, you hold fast to Jesus. This remembrance does not encourage you to shrink back from God but to draw near, seeking him because of the hope of the gospel. When you remember your sins, you learn humility, love Jesus, and make much of the gospel.

The same goes for the conviction of sin. If I love my friends, I will want them to be free from the bondage of sin and free to experience sweet communion with Christ. Hopefully they want the same for me. And this is only achieved by recognizing sin for what it is–idolatry and pride, an affront to our holy Father–and the gospel for what it is–our only hope, the Good News of Christ’s perfect life, death, and resurrection on our behalf.

So if I’ve been a Dr. Pepper Friend to you, I’m so sorry. I mean, I’m not completely sorry about the Dr. Pepper because it is REALLY good.

But I’m sorry for making excuses for sin and wanting you to do the same for me. I’m sorry for robbing us both of the joy of sweet , thirst-quenching grace.

I pray we sisters and brothers can point each other to Christ, the only One who takes away shame and replaces it with Love.

I acknowledged my sin to you, 

and I did not cover my iniquity;

I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD;”

and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

Psalm 32:5

Weddings on the Web – Robert & Brie

Paperback Weddings is a video/photography company specializing in wedding films. If you don’t know what separates a wedding video from a film, take a look at their site. These are beautiful works of art capturing the special moments of a wedding day.

Today I’m posting one of these films of a couple named Robert and Brie. The wedding is gorgeous, but the focus is Christ. And, this is clearly a couple that knows how to have fun and enjoy God’s good gifts.

robert+brie • wedding from Paperback Weddings on Vimeo.

How I’ve Proved Him

'Happy and sad, Namibia' photo (c) 2005, Liv Unni Sødem - license:

Last August my husband and I walked through a brief experience that tested our faith and forced us to cling to our Father in a new way. Over this past weekend, thanks to the testimonies of a couple of friends, I was reflecting on this and remembering His faithfulness and trustworthiness to us. So I thought I would share this post again (taken from a former blog), including a strange metaphor that seemed a good description at the time.

It’s especially important to me given the recent focus on adoption and corruption (for more info on that, read this). The truth is there are thousands of waiting children available, many of whom have “special needs” that are truly not as overwhelming as we might think. So if you get a chance, spread the word about HIV so we can move into reality on this not-so-scary condition and give homes to those waiting.

Erik and I have been praying for years about adopting. We know we have been adopted and given all the benefits of being “heirs with Christ.” So the Lord placed it on both our hearts and I think we’ve always known we would adopt one day. This year we started looking into it more seriously, but both felt the time just wasn’t right yet. Even after seeing all the precious children waiting to be adopted when I went to Ethiopia, I still felt we needed to wait. I didn’t know why (still don’t) but Erik thought the same thing.
The past 5 days have been an exhausting roller coaster for us. We were presented with an opportunity to adopt a beautiful, precious 9-month-old girl from Ethiopia. Because this child is listed as having special needs, she needed to be adopted ASAP and it would have been a very quick process. Our gracious Father guided us through four days of ups and downs, doubts, insecurities and questions. We kept walking forward, not feeling like He had said “no” yet, and wondering if this was our daughter. I tried to protect myself from getting emotionally attached, but it was impossible not to visualize this child in our home, eating at our table, sleeping in her pink bedroom.
As you can guess, we are not this baby’s family. We were told yesterday that she had been placed with another family. It was kind of a situation of first come/first served, which is understandable. We have faith that our Sovereign God controls all things. If we were meant to be this child’s parents, it would have happened. Of course that doesn’t mean I didn’t weep uncontrollably when I found out she would not be our daughter. Heartbroken is not too strong a word to describe what we both felt. And it’s okay. And we are trusting.
And this is the beautiful thing. Five days ago, my trust in God was not what it is today, and Erik would say the same. In our minds, the timing was terrible. I just stopped working, I’m writing a book (more on that in the future), he’s working and simultaneously writing a feature-length screenplay (hopefully more on that later too), we have two busy kids, very little money (by our standards, which is a whole other post) and life is crazy. So this was a difficult process of Him graciously revealing that we don’t trust Him – not truly. And it hurts to realize that. It’s like walking along in the dark, heading toward a steep cliff, when suddenly a 500 lb. gorilla comes out of nowhere and knocks you to the ground, saving your life. But obviously this life-saving process hurts a little. I mean, I’ve never actually been knocked to the ground by a gorilla, but I can imagine. Anyway, you’re grateful for the end result – you’re not dead – but the process knocks the wind out of you and probably breaks a few bones. And that’s where we are. So blessed and grateful for the gorilla-like grace that shows us our lack of trust, but a little sore from the process. And waiting expectantly for what He has in store.
“Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him / How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er / Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus / Oh for grace to trust Him more.”
In addition to the craziness of adopting a child suddenly, there were the special needs to consider. Over the past year God has laid on my heart the desire to adopt a child (or children) who are HIV+. Erik’s sister is a PA specializing in infectious diseases, and we have had many conversations about HIV and AIDS and I’ve learned so much from her. Erik knew my heart, and while I don’t think he was quite on the same page when this process began, he is there now, thanks to God’s work in both of our lives. This precious girl is HIV+, which is really why we considered and prayed about adopting her in the first place.
Now, if you’re freaking out a little, it’s okay. It’s totally understandable. Unfortunately there is a crazy lack of education regarding HIV. We are all still thinking of it like we did in the 80’s, which means we assume you get HIV from shaking hands or spit or snot, etc, then a couple of years later you die from AIDS. Praise God this is no longer the case (actually, it was never spread via those means). So in case you are like we were and you don’t know the facts, here they are:
  • HIV is considered a chronic but manageable disease with proper treatment.
  • Children who receive treatment are expected to live a normal lifespan.
  • HIV has NEVER been transmitted in normal family living conditions (not thru tears, saliva, mucous, or other bodily fluids)
  • You NEVER have to fear contracting HIV through casual contact with an HIV+ person.
  • HIV is spread in three main ways: sexual contact, IV drug use through the sharing of dirty needles, mother-to-infant (pregnancy, birth or breast feeding)
  • All around the world orphans are overlooked for adoption because of their HIV+ status
  • Medications called ARVs can mean the difference between life and death
  • With medications HIV can be effectively managed to the point that the virus is undetectable
  • There is a term for the miraculous transformation HIV+ people undergo when they begin receiving the medications they need.
  • The Lazarus Effect is a term commonly used to describe people who were once on the brink of death who have been restored again to health through medication

(Info from For more info, go here.

I don’t know about you, but after I found this out I was shocked. My lack of education was severe, and I was amazed upon hearing these statistics.
So we hope and pray that God will continue to give others a heart for HIV+ orphans, just as He has supernaturally given us the desire to bring one (or more!) into our home. We continue to pray about the future, and ask you to pray with us. We trust He has given us this desire for a reason and we thank Him for graciously teaching us to trust and obey.

Pre-Marriage Counseling–What Do YOU Think?

'couple-reading-books' photo (c) 2012, Erin Kelly - license:

Writing has been a little spotty of late around here. I’ve been in VA spending time with family while my husband was in Belgium shooting a missions video. So rather than writing, I’ve been going to the beach, hanging with my precious niece and, thanks to my kind parents, sleeping in!

At some point in the next few months I plan to revamp this blog to create a better forum for both wedding-related and non-wedding posts. In the meantime, though, I’m working on a couple of series I hope will be helpful.

I need some help with the first one.

Many of the pastors I talked with in writing the book stressed the importance of pre-marital counseling. So I would like to do a series focusing on the need and the content of these counseling sessions.

If you have been through pre-marriage counseling and have thoughts on the subject, this is what I’d love to hear from you:

1. What are the most helpful things you took away from pre-marriage counseling?

2. In retrospect, what do you think would have been helpful that you did not hear from your counselor?

3. Any other thoughts (resources used, format of sessions, who did your counseling) you think might be helpful.

Thanks in advance for your help with this! I love the variety of responses I receive from people as it really aids in giving a full picture of the topic at hand.

Please feel free to pass this on to others as well!

Weddings on the Web – Laura & James

I ran across this wedding on Style Me Pretty and wanted to link to it here as it illustrates some things I think I key in planning your wedding.

The groom’s advice to couples in the planning process is to focus on the people:

 I think that perhaps our favorite part of the wedding was the rehearsal dinner the night before. A time for laughter and heartfelt memories, it gave us the confidence to boldly declare our love for not only each other, but for Christ. Each story, every piece of advice, and any kind word that was poured over us that night had to do with Jesus and the impact he has made through us. There is nothing that will get you through what can be a bumpy ride like an encouraging word from a friend.

For any and all couples going through an engagement – watching these videos and dreaming of your perfect wedding, my advice to you is to focus on the people. Forget the details, and the frivolous things that will pass, and focus on who truly makes the day special.

If you have a few minutes, go here and watch their wedding video, put together by PenWeddings. I love how the video perfectly illustrates the groom’s words. You really get a sense that the people in their lives are there not only for the wedding day, but to encourage and lift them up going forward throughout their marriage.


Book Review – Glimpses of Grace


When I started writing my book, I emailed another writer for advice and encouragement. I had never met Gloria Furman, but so appreciated her blog and the grace with which she conducts herself online. She kindly wrote back and shared some wisdom and advice with me, then went out of her way to help me get started with blogging by featuring me on her own blog. Because of Gloria, I have met many other women who also write with grace and love. I am so thankful for her willingness to help a new writer and I was thrilled to have the chance to review her book, Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home.

I’m a stay-at-home-mom of two young children. The world has two main messages for me: 1) You are wasting your time and doing women a disservice by neglecting other ambitions; or 2) What you are doing is so valuable–be the best stay-at-home-mom ever and relish every moment!

I used to agree with idea #2. I was going to be the best mom, taking my kids all over the place and doing craft projects and teaching them to read by age 2. But then reality set in and I would go to bed crying about my failures day after day, determined to do better the following day.

Gloria’s message in this book is a message of freedom, not pressure. She writes:

This book is about how we experience the grace of the gospel as we go about our daily lives in the home. It’s not about how to transcend to “a happy place” above the reality of life in the home. It’s not about how to relish our mundane existence and cherish it like it were an all-satisfying fountain if we would only soak it in for its own sake.

Glimpses of Grace is about how God’s power in the gospel can tran

sform us for his glory as we live by faith–right where we are in the mundane of our homes. It’s about how God has made us new in his likeness of true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:24). The grace of God in Christ radically changes us. But how does he change the way we wash the same dishes every day? How does the gospel change the way our heart responds when we hear the doorbell ring during supper?

Reading this book, for me, was like sitting down with a kind sister in the faith and letting her pour into me from her experience of God’s love and grace during her own days of mundane. As a mom of three (almost four) and a pastor’s wife living in the Middle East, Gloria’s life is neither easy nor glamorous. She confesses her weaknesses readily. And that is the beauty, because we see the surpassing power of God is not from Gloria, but from her Father.

I commend this book to moms, wives, single women, and even to men. While many of the examples are from a mom’s point of view, the truths are universal and applicable to all.

Special Offer from Crossway

In honor of the book’s release, Crossway is excited to offer something special. Purchase a copy of Glimpses of Gracefrom your favorite local or online retailer from June 3-7 and receive a free Glimpses of Grace ebook as well as one of Gloria’s favorite resources—the ESV Study Bible Online (available on!

To redeem your free extras, simply scan and email your receipt to before 11:59am on Friday, June 7.*

Finally, you can watch the book trailer here:

Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home from Crossway on Vimeo.