Sunday, December 10, 2023

The Rhythms that Steady Us

Picnic under the tree: 2022
We've been in our Miracle House in Wilmore for two and a half years now. There are days when it feels like we left Uganda yesterday and days when it seems like we've lived here forever. Time is weird... growing kids are weird too. Caleb is a junior, Seth is a sophomore, Elizabeth is in fourth grade and Bekah is in third. I am in my second year of seminary and still working on getting my Mental Health Counseling degree. I hope to graduate the same year as Seth. Josh and I are still working for the Francis Asbury Society. 

I was leading a parenting support group for class this semester and one of the skills I taught was having a gratitude practice. Preparing for that session sent me back to my gift list tag here on our blog. I haven't kept up with the numbering of my gratitude. And I miss it. Looking back hit me deep in the feels. And made me realize how steadying and life-giving that practice is. 

Our kids are also growing so fast. I can't believe Caleb will be a senior next year. We still open advent envelopes each day, and we will picnic under the Christmas tree again this year. But the minutes with all four under our roof are finite and dwindling rapidly. Our advent envelopes are a tradition that steady us and hopefully steady our kids when they begin families of their own. 

I left off on my gift list at #8029... so I'll pick up there and keep counting. It's never too late to return to rhythms that steady you. {speaking of returning- that was my word for the year - so maybe I'll write about that soon}

8030. all four kids laughing and playing in the basement of FAS
8031. seeing the Coppedges at church
8032. breakfast sandwiches after church
8033. friends who feel like family
8034. the glow of the Christmas tree 
8035. our growing collection of ornaments- like a trip down memory lane
8036. the gift of returning
8037. thousands of photos- invitations to return 
8038. the scent of cinnamon rolls fresh from the oven
8039. a circle of parents finding strength in one another's company
8040. the honor of bearing witness to stories of pain and triumph


Friday, February 24, 2023

Desert Seasons

 Jesus was in the desert for forty days before His earthly ministry. He was tempted at the very core of His identity. I don't know about you, but I am not usually eager to spend time in the desert or the wilderness. Sometimes it is unavoidable, and other times (like Lent) we seek it out. Our family spent a solid eight months in an unsought personal wilderness after we left Uganda. 

In the wilderness, everything you once believed is questioned. The sand and sky stretch for miles. You don't know how long it will last. You are forced to simplify down to basic necessities. The landscape is dull. You are pushed to your very limits. It is so disorienting. 

And, if you are open, God longs to draw near in those seasons. It is sometimes easier (and sometimes harder) to sense Him in the wilderness when everything else gets stripped away, and we realize the depth of our need for Him. He isn't tricky or hiding. And so this Lent, as we lay aside the things that draw our attention away from Him, and settle into the quiet places, I pray that He meets you. 

I hope that He will feel like a cool drink of water to your thirsty soul and that you will get a real sense of Jesus alongside you; He never asks anything of you that He wasn't willing to do first. 

Thursday, February 23, 2023

What Does My Soul Need?


As we enter the Lenten season, the question I sense being asked is: "What does your soul need?" The three core practices of Lent are giving, fasting and praying. If you've been in Wilmore the past two weeks you've done your share of all three I'm guessing. We've given so much to host the presence of the Lord and the mass of pilgrims descending on our town. We have missed meals (maybe not fasting, but possibly!), and we've gone without sleep. And we have been serving on prayer teams, been interceding from afar (if you're not in Wilmore), or just been prompted to stop and pray with people- that has been one of the first fruits I've seen from this outpouring. So I'm not sure how the Lord will lead you to practice this Lent. But let me offer some suggestions: 

  • Giving yourself permission to rest and go slower than you have been lately.
  • Fasting social media (or some other way you've been numbing out) so you can stay awake to the presence of the Lord.
  • Praying. Please don't stop praying. Maybe try a new way of being with the Lord like walking and praying, or sitting in silence for 10 minutes, or journaling your prayer, or praying Scripture. 
Leave a comment if you know how He is leading you to do for Lent- maybe it would be a great idea for someone else too. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Lenten Discipleship Journey


I'm sure you've seen Asbury University in the news recently. There has been an outpouring of God's Spirit over the past two weeks. It has been powerful, precious, and overwhelming. It began during the season of Epiphany- a season of light and revelation! We have certainly had an epiphany. Jesus has come to the center and has our full attention. Now, we are about to enter the Lenten season. 

Ash Wednesday is a time when we consider our finitude- our deeply human limits- the fleeting aspect of our single life. "Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust." I have poured myself out the past two weeks and on this Ash Wednesday I hear Him saying- "frail daughter, I am God and you are not. You are not limitless. You may embrace your humanity and rest." And I am grateful to be reminded that He breathed life into dust and created humanity and He can again breathe life into my dry and weary soul. 

The Lenten journey takes us into the desert places- it continues to reveal the places we would rather hide- it exposes those disordered desires that only He can satisfy. {and I don't know about you- but after the thousands of pilgrims that traveled to Wilmore- I'm ready for some desert solitude}

Join me on this daily journal- He wants to meet you in the desert places as we journey towards Easter. 

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

Laying Down my Ideas...

These are difficult days. We have finally succumbed to COVID-19. There is an actual war being waged on the other side of the world. And today is Ash Wednesday. A day to remember our humanity and come face to face with our sin and mortality. Yet, I don't know about you, but I am all too aware of my limits, frailty, and humanity this year. We are on day 12 of isolation and my grace and patience started to wear thin, so I decided this is the perfect day to reorient myself. I have always loved Lent. We have tons of old blog posts with my thoughts and our family traditions if you want some inspiration. 

We began 2022 with energy, hope, and lots of people attending Bible study. But as the weeks passed, we canceled more events than we hosted and even the ones we offered were sparsely attended. It is easy in those moments to listen to the lies that you aren't doing a good job and that the slow ways of Jesus just don't work. But we've been at this for a decade and I refuse to let the tempter play that card with me. I will teach a fitness class with just one student. I will receive the gift of no one coming to Bible study as an extra night to spend with our children. On a walk with Jesus, He reminded me that He isn't in a hurry, that building something which lasts isn't an overnight miracle, and that just because it feels like we aren't doing much doesn't mean He isn't working below the surface. And so I offer that same encouragement to you- the pace of love is slow, building the kingdom doesn't happen overnight, and He is at work beneath the surface as you wait on Him. 

I am burdened for Ukraine. There is a weariness in my bones and my mind from dealing with COVID-19. Our hearts break for students at Asbury who are hurting, lonely and exhausted. AND those are the very reasons I must slow down and fill my days with beauty, connection, and intercession. The three main disciplines of lent are fasting, giving and praying. This lent I am laying down my ideas of effective ministry. I am giving my attention to the things that matter by building beauty and connection into our days. And I am praying His kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 

This quote from C.S. Lewis has been ringing in my heart this week: "
If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”

What do you need to lay down, to whom do you need to give, and what is the prayer on your heart this Lenten season? 


Tuesday, September 21, 2021

I'm not alright


“We could have never written this song 10 years ago.” These words were spoken by Dustin Lolli, lead singer of Sanctus Real at the relaunch event of Ichthus here in Wilmore, KY.  I was a volunteer at Ichthus at the prayer tent this year and only slightly listening to Sanctus Real when that sentence stopped me in my tracks. What was he talking about? The song in question (also the title of this post) is called “I’m not alright.”  Dustin went on to explain how in many Christian circles, it has been taboo to admit struggles.  Far too many of us can think of times when eyes widened, and mouths opened larger than normal when we dared to share a struggle.  We can think of people who began avoiding us or whispered with another as we walked by after sharing openly.  Thankfully, the tide is shifting.


Over the past decade or so I have gone through a personal struggle of battling depression and at the same time realizing a deep passion for discipleship.  What do these two things have in common, you ask?  Well, let’s start with the latter.  What is discipleship?  Well, a disciple is a follower.  Discipleship then is the teaching a follower sits under.  In their book Discovering Discipleship: Dynamics of Christian Education Dean G. Blevins and Mark A. Maddix say that  “Didache, the Greek term for teaching, serves as a conceptual framework for discipleship…”[i]  They go on to say that “Discipleship is the older concept of a particular way of living as learners and teachers in rhythm with the Holy Spirit.”[ii] Finally, while discussing that discipleship certainly can look a lot like our education processes today, Blevins and Maddix say, “It includes spiritual formation, catechetical guidance, pastoral leadership, compassionate service, and missional engagement.”[iii]  Discipleship sounds a lot more robust to me than a Sunday school classroom or a small group meeting on Wednesday night.  Those things are included, but there can and should be much more to it.  My understanding of discipleship is learning to live a life under the guidance of the Holy Spirit that looks like that of Jesus Christ.


Therefore, when an opportunity arose for The Francis Asbury Society to partner with Ichthus by sponsoring the prayer tent, I viewed this as a perfect opportunity to engage in active discipleship.  I wrote to our team of volunteers saying, “We have no idea what will come our way on Saturday. However, I do know that people will come with needs, and it is a pleasure to journey with them for even just a few minutes."  And while the line was not a mile long waiting to pray with us at the tent, we did indeed have the opportunity to engage in discipleship with a few people. One girl timidly came with her friends a few paces behind and bravely stated, "I need to grow in my prayer life." A 30-year-old man came carrying a heavy burden which could be seen by the sadness in his eyes. “I need to surrender. I wanted to be married by now and I don’t know how it will ever happen. I am addicted to pornography. I have racist tendencies. I don’t want these things in my life anymore!” What an honor to sit with these two, and others, and to walk for just a few minutes with them and then cover them in prayer. The girl was handed off to her youth leaders to continue walking with her in deepening her prayer life. The 30-year-old man shared his phone number with one of our volunteers who offered to continue walking with him while he waits for God to send him someone closer to his home who could journey with him. If I were to go strictly by Blevins and Maddix, I would say that we participated in spiritual formation, catechetical guidance, pastoral leadership, compassionate service, and missional engagement in those few short moments on Saturday. And it was so good!


OK but what about that personal piece I mentioned? Don't worry, I'll tie it in. Again, for about a decade I have engaged in a battle with depression. I thank God that it is not a serious battle and thus far by His mercy, I have been able to combat it with counseling and staying active.  But as I watched the young lady and the 30-year-old man come to the prayer tent on Saturday I saw something familiar in their eyes. Fear.  They were afraid of what was going to happen if they opened up about their struggle. They were determined to do so because the Holy Spirit was prompting them. Praise God for His grace! And yet the fear of opening up was real.  I remember sitting in a counselor’s office in 2016 and reaching my breaking point. “Something is wrong with me, and I don’t know what it is!” It seemed I could not find joy in anything. Not being a husband, a father, a missionary, or a friend. I just constantly felt like someone had placed a weight on my chest and refused to take it off. It took me so long to get to that breaking point because I was afraid to admit that I was not alright. Then as the dam broke and I reached out for help I realized something special; people were willing to walk with me. Brokenness and all. My wife didn't run away. The rest of my family didn't run away. And I began to realize that I had friends going through similar struggles and they counted it a joy to walk with me.


And so, what is discipleship? I think it's walking with another – brokenness and all.  It's being willing to admit to someone, "I'm not alright" and letting them carry your burden. It's also being ready at any moment to receive the burden of another as they face their fear and admit to you, "I'm not alright."  As we carry each other's burdens, we turn our face to the one who offers to carry them Himself. Peter tells us in I Peter 5:6-7, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (NIV)


I am so glad the tide is turning and it is OK to admit "I'm not alright." I believe this will open tremendous discipleship opportunities for those of us who call ourselves a disciple of Christ. Such joy can be found in journeying together to the feet of the one who cares so deeply for us.


Link to I'm Not Alright by Sanctus Real


[i] Blevins, Dean G. and Maddix, Mark A. Discovering Discipleship: Dynamics of Christian Education, (Kansas City, Beacon Hill Press, 2010), 17.

[ii] ibid

[iii] ibid

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Exercise Your Mental Muscle:

Join me for a revelation wellness challenge!! Exercise your mental muscle: Click here

Posting more details soon!

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Finding your place {resources}

Ok, Kelly, you've got me curious about what God had in mind when He made me. Now, what?

i'm so glad you asked! i love helping people see where they fit in the story God is writing. here are some valuable resources to get you started on your journey. 

in this episode of Business Made Simple by Don Miller they explore building your own personal brand... but what makes it so helpful is that even if you don't plan on marketing yourself the questions they pose will help you narrow your focus to what God has really made you to do and clarify your message. 

"Find your uniqueness so that you can exploit it in the service of others." -Larry Winget

Ron Smith wrote recently about how pivotal a single moment can be in altering history. Read this powerful testimony and heritage!

A significant book in my journey has been Let Your Life Speak by Parker J Palmer.  

And this quote {expounded on here} has guided my thoughts for decades: "The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." 

And maybe you feel buried beneath the lies of the enemy or the walls you've built to protect yourself         are threatening to suffocate you... let me gently suggest that you allow God to meet you in the pain and confusion before you start trying to serve the world. A few book suggestions for you: The Gift of Imperfection by Brene Brown and Try Softer by Aundi Kolber.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

finding your place in God's story

we all spend our lives trying to figure out our purpose in life... who God made us to be and what He wants to do through us. i love that the intention of Ordinary Time is to "offer us the space to find our place in God's story." after all, the world does not revolve around me; it's His story. He is the center, the Author and the Hero, but He made us to play a role. 

it's this search for meaning and purpose that makes us human. a flower does not struggle with what color it's blossom should be or what shape to take- it has no choice but to be what the seed was designed to be. it would certainly be more simple if we had no choice. but then there would also be no freedom. and so God offers us choices... endless possibilities... and yet sometimes it feels like very few options. 

i believe God created us with all of our strengths and challenges, passions and skills to reflect His glory to a watching world. I also believe that the hardships and struggles we walk through shape us uniquely to extend His love to hurting people. and i believe that we have an enemy who exists to mar the image of God in us, and derail us from the purposes God created us to fulfill. 

as a result of that assault we hide, we put on a mask, we erect a wall or we take matters into our own hands. i have tried all of those survival strategies; they are exhausting. whether the mask is perfection or aggression, the wall is biting sarcasm or emotional distance, or you take things into your own hands by stubborn independence or people-pleasing... i would like to invite you to rest awhile. you don't have to try so hard and you don't have to do this alone. 

What's one thing you are good at? Hold on to that {and drop it in the comments} we will take a look at how to uncover our purpose next time.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

another ordinary day

the birds join the ancient harmony. the breeze wafts cool through the open window. and i am roused to another ordinary day. 

it's the second day of Ordinary Time according to the liturgical calendar and i can't get that word out of my head.

the introduction to this season of the church year has captivated me and gotten me thinking deep thoughts. 

"The first half of the Christian year, ranging from Advent to Pentecost, is devoted to tracing the grand arc of God's saving action in Jesus Christ. The second half of the Christian year is a long stretch of time called Ordinary Time. It starts the day after Pentecost Sunday and leads right up to the first Sunday in Advent, meaning most of the year is spent here,

With all the big holidays and celebrations over, Ordinary Time offers us the space to find our place in God's story. We've celebrated and taken in the momentous life of Jesus; now we need a long stretch of days to absorb and assimilate it. In Ordinary Time, we fully take in the gospel, allowing it to take shape in our daily living, making connections between Jesus' story and our lives." -Philip F Reinders, Seeking God's Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

i have been reading the Time Quartet by Madeleine L'Engle recently and it's got me thinking about the pivotal role we have in the grand story of the world- how even a single decision can alter the course of time. and i don't say that to make you fret and worry about making the wrong choice every single second- i believe God sits on the throne and His Spirit lives within us working all things for good. i do say that to remind us that the enemy would love nothing more than for humans to live numb and distracted, or paralyzed by fear of making the wrong choice. 

God is calling you to arise and take your place in the grand story He is writing- with the Spirit alive within you and your ordinary life looking more and more like Jesus'. and i'd be honored to journey with you. we cannot do this alone. we need other pilgrims to sing the ancient melody to us when we've forgotten it's tune, and to break bread with at the table.

what does finding your place in God's story look like today?  

i'll be going on a walk, tending kids after their dentist appointments, setting up more meetings to share God's vision for our new ministry, and cooking dinner. oh, and i'll be praying for you and your role in this gospel story. 

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Love the Lord your God...

We are teaching an online Bible study for 6 weeks and Thursday was our first session. We had such a precious time in the Word I don't want you to miss out- check out these notes and then join us on Zoom Thursdays at 7pm EST for the next 5 weeks.
After we served Jesus in Uganda with WGM for 9 years we came back to the USA without much certainty as to what God was up to or where He was leading us. So we sat in the grief of leaving Uganda and just waited on the Lord. And as we sought Him He met us. In our uncertainty He reminded us of the commands He had already given us- when we asked “What do you want us to do, God?” He said "Do what you already know to do. Love me with everything you’ve got and love your neighbor as you love yourself.” All too often we make it far too complicated. What if we just focused on getting this right?
As we waited on the Lord He slowly revealed His next assignment to us- one that makes us feel alive and excited in ways we haven’t felt in a while and in ways that feel sweetly similar to the ways we ministered while we lived in Uganda. In July we will be joining the Francis Asbury Society to lead their new Student Ministries initiative- cultivating deep, discipleship relationships with students at Asbury University and Asbury Seminary. FAS has been invited by the presidents at both institutions to have an active presence on campus which is a first. FAS historically has focused on publishing and sending evangelists to local churches. We are joining President Ron Smith and we are grateful for the ways Jesus has been shepherding us this year.
Like I said, Jesus reminded us last year that the best thing to do when we don’t know what to do is love Him and love others. And that is the message we want to share with the students at Asbury. Loving God with all we are- really does change everything! So lets’ dive into the word.
“Then one of the scribes came and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him “Which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is this, ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord our God the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” -Mark 12:29-31
We all want to please God. As believers He has saved us and we are thankful. And in response- we want to honor and obey Him. But why can’t we do it? It often feels like we are powerless to change.  What’s going on at the heart of our struggle?? Alisa Keeton, founder of Revelation Wellness says this: “Unwilling hearts partnered with unrenewed minds keep people fragmented, compartmentalized and separated from their best selves- running around getting their animalistic urges met in the moment instead of training for the higher prize of a life lived in right standing with God and filled with peace and joy.” We are created in the image of God and hardwired for emotional and relational connection. He has put desires inside us that only He can fill.
The Lord our God, the Lord is one. He is the only one who can truly satisfy us. I know I am often tempted to think that my phone can satisfy my loneliness, or that food will comfort in the ache inside me- I don’t know what you run to when you are empty- but I will tell you I’ve tried lots of things and none of them fill and satisfy me the way He does. He wants us to love Him first and best. In Jeremiah 2:13 it says " “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water." Take a minute and think about the things or people you run to before you run to God. And then confess that to Him and ask Him to meet you and satisfy those empty places.

So He is the one and He invites us to love Him. I can tell you "I love God" and I can know in my head that He loves me. But change comes when I experience the love of God. So take a few minutes and think about ways you express your love to God and ways you experience His love for you. 

Love in this Greek text is agape… I am sure some of you know about the various Greek words translated into our one word “love” but I’ll share a few bits of the Greek definition I found on the Blue Letter Bible app: “love willing to die for his beloved, sacrificial love, unconditional love, to love dearly, when used of love for a master (God or Jesus) the word involves the idea of affectionate reverence, prompt obedience and grateful recognition of benefits received. Can also mean to take pleasure in the thing, prize it above with things, be unwilling to abandon it or do without it. Also involves desire and longing.” 
Love the Lord YOUR GOD- He is yours! How sweet is that? It’s also a mutual love. He was willing to lay down His life out of love for you- are you willing to lay down your life out of love for Him?? That’s a hard question in today’s society where not many are willing to lay down their rights out of love for others. I can’t love this way in my own flesh. My heart is hard. But as I let Him love me- and feel His delight in me- when I consider the great lengths to which He went to pursue me- my heart wells up with love for Him. Amazing love, how can it be??? 
Take the Love Exchange challenge: Spend two minutes expressing your love to God by journaling, prayer or singing. And then spend two minutes receiving His love for you by journaling what you sense Him saying, or resting in silence. This practice was found in the book The Love Exchange by Margaret Therkelsen. Writes Therkelsen, "As this Love Exchange deepens, God can have more of you than he has ever had, and your lives will be hidden in him, freely alive and transformed in his loving presence".

Friday, February 19, 2021

Lenten Garden 2021

Filling our desert garden with sand and rocks- setting the tomb in the corner- assembling a cross to be the focal point for lent is such a grounding ritual for me. I have to slow and ponder the wilderness Jesus faced for 40 days, examine the ways I am tempted like He was to be relevant, to be spectacular and to be powerful (Henri Nouwen- In the Name of Jesus) and the confess the things I've clung to besides Jesus. 

this year I've also been reflecting on the desert season we have been walking through since leaving Uganda. Throughout this past year we have felt useless, hidden, unnoticed, hurting and weak. We are the ones who have needed support and prayer- not the ones offering it. And to some degree 2020 was a lengthy lenten wilderness for most of us. 

Quarantine hit in the midst of lent last year and it doesn't feel like we've been released. As we stayed home and kept our social distance some ugly things rose to the surface of our hearts- things that were easier to avoid when we kept busy.  Maybe frustration, anger, impatience, fear, desire for control rose to the surface for you. Maybe you were stuck in households with people you love and unhealthy habits or patterns were exposed. 

So this lent I sense that the Lord longs to be gracious to us. He knows we've kind of been stuck in a lenten desert for a year. And if you've let Him deal with some of those temptations, patterns and sins this year you may be feeling a renewed intimacy with Him (such a gift from a very difficult season). But maybe He has been putting His finger on some things and you've refused Him access. Could you enter in to this lenten season and surrender those to Him? He walks with us to the cross and promises resurrection life and freedom on the other side!

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Looking Back to Move Forward: Pt 1

When we lived in Uganda we spent a lot of our time with university students. Creating space for students to encounter God on their own and in fellowship around the table is definitely a big piece of our calling. Bible studies, leadership retreats, small groups, preaching were all a part of our work with the University Discipleship Movement. I loved meeting with the women on Monday nights our first term in Uganda. Many evenings were spent listening to their struggles and laughing at our common frustrations as women, worshipping with them, and helping them wrestle through tough questions. It was always so encouraging to hear them pray.

Throughout this year we will be taking a look back at our years of ministry in Uganda and then forward at how that might translate into our new ministry with the Francis Asbury Society. 

We believe that there is so much potential in the generations coming up! They are passionate about authenticity, community, truth, justice and the environment (Gen Z Core Values). We love how that lines up with God's heart! We all want to know and be known, for our presence to matter to someone else. But there are also some concerning statistics about their belief systems (atheism doubles among Generation Z). And this motivates us to live in authentic community where our backyard is open and there is food on the table. We don't just want to preach the Word, we want to live it.

So we can't wait to move in and get to know the students at Asbury University and Asbury Theological Seminary as one facet of our ministy with the Francis Asbury Society.