Back to School

September ushers in change in routine, in seasons, in the order and rhythm of our days, and it marks our 18th year of homeschooling.


Two sons and a daughter have already graduated from high school leaving me with just two for the first time in many years — a freshman and a senior. Our senior is home for just this final semester before graduating early to pursue her dreams. New rhythms.


September inaugurates our most recent high school graduate into college. Our first to commute. Rhythms of change.


September also finds our firstborn, a recent college graduate, home simultaneously looking for employment, leading worship, and building his own photography and graphic design business, the tools of his trade sprawled throughout the family room. New rhythms.


This September whispers fresh creative wind to our second son as well via 3-D design, life-size costume armor and weaponry, game development and design, and brand-new built-ins he designed and created with his Dad. Rhythms of hope.


September brings with it a return to Children’s Hospital and familiar routines. This week our daughter had surgery to place a permanent port. What grace that her best friend, who’s been with her through every hospital stay over the past three years could be with her this week too, one last time before he flies across the ocean to experience brand new rhythms of his own. Rhythms of grace.


September sunshine beckons us outside for as long as possible. Winter is coming. We’ll relish the days and welcome the familiar rhythms of time to steep in great literature and feast on fine poetry.


September in our house means flu shots for everyone, and the chance to bless another too, and offers opportunities to learn something new, like volleyball. A brand new rhythm and pace for our days.


September — days of order and grace, routine and change, Back to School in myriad, diverse and creative ways. Rhythms of faith and grace.


*Joining a wonderful group of photographers and writers this month in the Circle of Faith in Words and Image blog circle as we explore the topic,
Back to School. Find all the links here:
Pollywog Creek
Captured Bits of Beauty
What Marty Sees
Spy Journal
Live, Love, Laugh, Hope


Filed under Circle of Faith in Word and Image

Where I Live


I live in a small midwestern town on an acre and an eighth of gently rolling hills in a sprawling older subdivision filled with towering pines. On Hamilton Court. Just off Hamilton Drive.


We’ve lived in this elongated ranch for nearly twenty years, raising five kids in a town too small for a post office, a downtown or a grocery store, yet somehow exactly right for an authentic piece of the Twin Towers, which still strikes me as a little odd each time I drive down that quiet country road to our tiny town hall to renew my burn permit and see those steel beams nestled on a small green amongst the fields in the middle of no-where.


Five kids and countless friends have played, slept, cried, swung, climbed, and created here. And still they come, the teens and early 20s, to roast marshmallows over a campfire, to record music and play games, to try the zip lines, shoot hoops or practice volleyball. They gather at the table or out under the stars amid little white lights strung throughout the yard like so many fireflies. And they call me Mama, these kids I’d call my own. They’ve stretched my heart. And taught me grace.


Here, in my little corner of the world, gaggles of wild turkeys are no longer rare, but commonplace. Here, we watch the waning and waxing of the moon, the changing of the seasons. Here, we celebrate birthdays and shovel snow, listen to cicadas and learn to drive. Here, we gather for graduations and funerals and holidays. Here, we love and grieve and learn to let go.


Here, we are family. All who gather. One Body.

Here is where I live. In these hearts. These moments. This story. These days. Here, in these hands that have cradled infants and built tables, swung toddlers, “one more time, one more time,” and moved a thousand yards of mulch…


Here, in these hands that have held mine in birth and loss, and spoken the love of a man to a woman…

Here, in these hands that encircle mine in prayer is where I live.


*Joining a wonderful group of photographers and writers this month in the Circle of Faith in Words and Image blog circle as we explore the topic, Where I Live. Find all the links here:
Pollywog Creek
Spy Journal
Live, Love, Laugh, Hope
Captured Bits of Beauty
What Marty Sees


Filed under Circle of Faith in Word and Image

The Gift of Tithing


One afternoon, just after I turned 30, I decided it was time to finally read the Bible – the whole Bible – cover-to-cover, Genesis straight through Revelation, no matter how long it took. Excited and often challenged by what I was learning, I eagerly shared my new found knowledge with my husband, who wasn’t nearly as interested in listening as I was in speaking, but who patiently endured until I broached the subject of tithing.

“Is that 10% of gross or net?” he asked, slightly annoyed.

“Gross,” I replied. “I’m pretty sure God comes before taxes.”

“Do you have any idea how much money that is?”

Well, no, actually I didn’t. The conversation quickly ended with, “You can give as much to church each week as we spend on entertainment.” It wasn’t a tithe, but it was a start.

Months later, Tony walked in from work in the middle of the afternoon with a large cardboard box in his arms. “I lost my job today,” he said. “It’s time we started tithing.”

“You lost your job and you want to tithe now?”

“Yes, now. Off my severance check.”

I could barely speak. I think I stopped breathing. I definitely couldn’t believe what I was hearing. We had no income, no insurance, two young sons, and a baby daughter on the way.

What a time to test God.

Yet that’s exactly what my husband was doing. Like Gideon in the Old Testament, Tony needed assurance – tangible, unmistakable proof that God is as good as His Word – and for him there was no better time to begin. So my husband threw out his fleece – ten percent of his severance check – and waited.

God’s response was immediate and abundant, if somewhat overwhelming. Unexpected refund and rebate checks began arriving in our mailbox, so many of them that we wondered what God would possibly do next. We continued to tithe off every dollar that came in, and it didn’t take us long to discover that we simply couldn’t out-give God. The more we gave, the more He poured into our laps, “a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.” Luke 6:38

We were hooked.

Over the years, we’ve learned that tithing wasn’t the ultimate object of that lesson, Biblical giving was. Second Corinthians 8:14 says, “At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality.”

That’s why we give.

God gives to us so that we can give to others. We are blessed to be a blessing, conduits of God’s grace, mercy and abundant love to one another. Giving isn’t about a set percent, and it’s not about what we can do, but about what God can and will do through us when we’re willing.

“’Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.’” Malachi 3:10

It’s been nearly twenty years since we started tithing. We’ve welcomed five children into this world, my husband has changed jobs several times, we’ve moved and moved again, we’ve entered the college years (our oldest will graduate this May), and our feet have walked the path of long-term illness with four of our five teens…and me. Through it all, God has remained faithful. As we have continued to tithe, God has stretched our capacity to give. Again and again. And again.

Tithing isn’t an obligation, but a gift. A lavish gift.

That my God, who needs nothing, would offer me the opportunity, the freedom, the privilege to give, to join with Him in providing for His people is remarkable.

That He would trust me that much is amazing.

And humbling. Deeply, perfectly, beautifully, only God, humbling.

For only God could extend such grace — a gift that blesses the giver perhaps even more than the receiver.

*Joining The High Calling this week as they explore the topic of tithing. Come see what others have to say!


Filed under Devotionals

Asking for Help

My post is a little different today. Today I’m asking for your help.

My son Sam, as many of you know, is home from college on medical leave and likely unable to return. He’s whip smart, word clever, wildly creative, quick witted, deeply loyal…and losing hope.

You can read about his days in his own words here.

My son is longing for purpose.

He’s been writing, working on spoken word pieces, and game development (two of his games released in Apple’s App Store, one retired, one still for sale), and most recently creating original designs via 3D printer.

Yesterday, Sam launched his Etsy store, Phenix Emporium, the name chosen from Middle English, because that’s just how his mind works.

Creative. Clever. Always with meaning and purpose, because, in his words, “here is where the phoenix’s signature ability to be reborn from the ashes is fulfilled in a slightly different manner, from the ashes (the empty print board and the plastic from which objects will print)….where the creativity of the mind is allowed to be set free, to be born from the melting pot of plastic, to rise like a phoenix, creativity reborn from the mind into the physical planes of reality.”

Will you help, Friends? For under $10, you can purchase a unique, made-to-order (from 64 possible color combinations!) spinning top or an adorable Balancing Bunny, or even an entire Fluffle.

Yellow Top Being Spun

Black Top Front View

Yellow Top Side View

Balancing Bunny Stack

Balancing Bunny Pyramid

Together we can lift my son, flood him with orders, and allow hope to seep back into his soul.

Will you join me?

Thank you, Friends! You are far more appreciated than you will ever know.

To order, click here: Phenix Emporium.


Filed under Something Different

Bravely Capturing Words — A Series

I know many who are bravely capturing words this year, writing memoirs, poetry, fiction, devotionals, novels and novellas, medical odysseys, writing for magazines and newspapers, even writing for themselves, spilling the words of their hearts into notebooks and art journals. I am awed by their devotion, their dedication, their sacrifice.

For we need their words, their stories. Your stories. And mine.

So…I’ve decided to encourage writers this month in a series of images. You’ll find the first five here. Each week, I’ll post four or five more.

Enjoy. Share. Print.

Use the images in any way you choose to encourage yourself or another. Downloadable versions are available via my Flickr Photostream.


“Always when we begin, we take a risk.” ~ Marilyn Chandler McEntyre, Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies


“Listen into the silences where the best words begin.” ~ Marilyn Chandler McEntyre, Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies


“There is, in all of us, a hunger for words that satisfy – “ ~ Marilyn Chandler McEntyre, Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies


“A story is an invitation, and a challenge, and a choice.” ~ Marilyn Chandler McEntyre, Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies


“…your story is the one that could set us all ablaze.” ~ Dan B. Allender, PhD,
To Be Told


Filed under Something Different

You Are…

I Am...2

I am honored to be partnering with the beautiful, grace-filled Lauren McLeod, the heart and soul behind this project, to launch #IAmHis today, the first in a series of images designed to remind each of us that we are precious, treasured, accepted, loved.

Today, we invite you to reach out and remind the weary, the lonely, the broken-hearted and hurting, the overwhelmed and over-looked, the loved one, neighbor, friend, or co-worker, of who they are and Whose they are:

accepted, loved,
of infinite worth,
and eternal value.

Because we are precious and beloved —
every. single. one.

1 Comment

Filed under Something Different

Thirteen — A Story of Community


A little more than two years ago, I packed my secondhand cheetah print suitcase, boarded a plane and headed for a remote Texas canyon cut by the Frio River. I was excited to be attending my first writers’ conference, and nervous. I wasn’t an author, wasn’t writing a book, had no plans to write a book, and wasn’t published, but I do love words, write a blog and a little poetry, and love photography.

The days in the canyon were good and hard, challenging and encouraging. I was rooming with a woman I’d never met (who turned out to be lovely), was missing my daughter’s first high school homecoming dance, and also desperately needed this time to heal and remember how to breathe.

Something happened in the still of the canyon. God spoke and invited me to trust Him again.

He spoke through twelve, fierce, funny, wise, compassionate, slightly irreverent, deeply encouraging, sword-wielding women. Warriors steeped in Jesus.


Twelve women who rallied around and prayed me through surgery two days after leaving the canyon and we’ve been praying together ever since. An unlikely band of thirteen and my heroines of the faith.

We are young and old, mothers and grandmothers through birth, marriage and adoption. Black and white. Big city and small town. Affluent and just getting by. We are teachers and lawyers, authors and social workers, singers and nurses, poets and cooks, crafters and pastor’s wives, editors and homeschoolers, businesswomen and photographers. We are young women and empty-nesters, coast-to-coast, north, south, east and west.

We are Louboutin pumps and flip-flops, cowboy boots and baseball caps, business suits and feather boas. We are spired churches and expansive auditoriums, and we are sports fans.

We are thirteen brave, strong, broken, grace-filled women sharing this journey through life – celebrating, weeping, laughing, beseeching, cheering, groaning, ever and always praying as we wield the shield of faith.

Microcosm of The Body. Lived out. Life-giving, life-changing community.

These are my incredible heroines of the faith – twelve, faith-filled, courageous women – gifts from the Father’s hand straight to my heart, and I am forever changed.

Next month, I’ll once again be packing my second-hand cheetah print suitcase and boarding a plane to a remote Texas canyon cut by the Frio. This time, I’m ready. And I can’t wait!

*This blog post is part of Michelle DeRusha’s #MyFaithHeroine contest, in connection with the release of the book 50 Women Every Christian Should Know. Find out how to participate here.


Filed under Devotionals



Leave a comment

October 11, 2014 · 11:22 pm

Richest Love


Beautiful Sunday blessings to you, Friends!

What grace that we are loved
beyond imagining

by the One who IS love,
whose love never changes, never fails,

never ends,

whose love is wholly undeserved,
and beyond all limits of time and space.

Leave a comment

Filed under Photos and Quotes

Called by Name


The stories that penetrate life’s routines are the stories that connect humans to each other.Matt Knisely

When I first learned of Matt Knisely’s new book Framing Faith, I was intrigued. Matt’s an award-winning photojournalist of twenty Emmys and the Edward R. Murrow Awards, whose work I admire and whose words inspire, challenging me to reach higher, to work on lighting and framing, to integrate photography into every aspect of my life.

But here’s my confession. I was intimidated. Matt had publicly offered the opportunity to participate in his book launch. I was interested, but hesitated. I’m not a professional photographer or writer. I don’t have fifty- or even ten-thousand followers on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or my blog combined. And I have exactly three days of formal photography training.

A few days later I unexpectedly received a message from Matt via Twitter requesting my address so he could send me an advance copy of his book.

Wow. I smiled. Big. And felt ridiculously pleased.

Someone acclaimed and influential knows my name.

Me. A middle-aged, Midwestern, mini-van wheeling, wife and mom of five, a small-time blogger, and wanna-be writer and photographer, who sometimes wonders where this all might one day lead.

Matt’s book arrived the next week. I poured a fresh cup of tea, opened the envelope, and savored the back cover copy. As I flipped through the pages skimming the chapter titles, one in particular caught my eye, He Knows us by Name. I backed up a few paragraphs, and read these words: “In that moment I began to realize a simple truth about humans: a story is the shortest distance between two people, and some of the most beautiful parts of a story are best captured in isolation – in two-dimensional perspective.” I knew why I held this book in my hands and it was all wrapped up in the following vignette.

Back in 2000 during the run-up to the presidential campaign, Matt had been granted a one-on-one interview with republican candidate George W. Bush, who, toward the end of the interview had said words Matt’s heard at least a thousand times, “Nice to meet you, Nice-Lee.” Two and a half years later, at a press conference detailing the United States’ troop deployment into Afghanistan, then President George W. Bush, exiting “…down the outside perimeter of the crowd of reporters…paused, pointed at [Matt] and said, ‘Nice to meet you, Nice-Lee’….”


Seen. Recognized. Called by name. Two and a half years later.

“I was stunned,” Matt recalls.

Me too in my own smaller way. Stunned that someone of Matt’s caliber would take the time to personally call me by name.

“Oh, sweet girl,” I tenderly heard in my soul, “I too call you by name. Every moment of every day. Whispering it with the wind. Shouting it in the thunder. Thrumming it through rain. Singing it in birdsong. Humming it in the gentle whir of wings and in the endless rhythm of the waves.”


Oh, Lord, You do. And how easily I forget, longing to be seen when I already am, to be known, when You already do, to be called by name, when you promised so long ago You always will.

“Yes,” I heard His still, small Voice, “I have called you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1

His. Seen. Known. Loved. And called by name.


Today, I have two copies of Matt Knisely’s book, Framing Faith, to give away, one for you and one for a friend.

Just comment below with your name and a friend’s, or tag your friend in a Facebook comment below this post on my page, and I’ll pull ALL FOUR WINNERS from my last three posts on Monday, July 28th, 2014, and announce the winners.


are His.


called by name.


Filed under Devotionals

A Rare and Precious Gift


Nothing is more personal or intimate than listening.” Matt Knisely, Framing Faith

A couple of years ago, my spunky, speaks-her-mind, mother-in-law sat at one end of our kitchen island talking football when our middle daughter and her friend walked in. Anna hugged her grandmother and introduced her friend, Anthony, a high school football wide receiver.

They all chatted for a few minutes then Anthony turned to greet our youngest daughter, and my spunky mother-in-law blurted, “Anthony, you’re not listening to me!

Oh! Sorry!” he stammered, blushed, and immediately turned back.


Laughter erupted from all corners of the kitchen. Anthony had officially been introduced to my vibrant, redheaded, mother-in-law, who, though she’d spoken in jest to Anthony, had also voiced the often unspoken words of our own hearts.

Our longing to be heard.

To be loved. Right where we are. Right in the messy midst. Without masks. Nothing retouched or colored or smoothed or erased or tweaked.

Naked and unashamed.

Like Adam and Eve in the garden before the Fall with nothing between them but love. No fear or guilt. No anger or frustration. Nothing lurking in the shadows. No unspoken longing. No skeletons in the closet.

Two souls, pure and holy and sinless. In full communion with each other and with God.

As we were created to be. One. To the very marrow of our bones.

“…the LORD God formed the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman….” Genesis 2:22

Bone of Adam’s bone all the way to the marrow.

But one bite forever altered that. Now it’s risky to reveal our imperfections, to let the wrinkles show, to divulge our unkempt edges. For love is messy. Sin has muddied the waters, shrouded the truth, and shadowed our vision of God.

It’s swung wide the door of loneliness and isolation.

Today we long to be heard. Beyond the distractions. Beyond the noise of a thousand thoughts careening in our brains. Beyond the crush of endless to-do lists and frenetic schedules.

Matt Knisely says it so well in his book, Framing Faith: “We’ve forgotten that listening is our conscious contextual navigation system. Rather we’ve become unconsciously aware. We check out. Disconnect. Get preoccupied…. Distracted by the subtle…. Distracted by our commitments…. Distracted by fear…. Distractions rob us of hearing the voices around us, and the Voice within us.

Listening is a rare and precious gift. A gift that shares burdens and carries mats. A gift that locks arms and links heart across time and space, abolishing boundaries and raining grace.

We long to be heard. To be known. To be loved. Soul deep. We long for the rhythm and cadence and timbre of our words, our lives, our stories, to be heard. To matter.


This week, Matt Knisely, author and award-winning photojournalist, is giving away a copy of his new book, Framing Faith, to one of YOU.

To win Matt’s incredible book, just share in the comments an observation, an image, or a story you discovered by pausing to listen.

A moment when the light streamed in and eternity shone through. A moment where the clamor stilled and the still, small Voice spoke.


Filed under Devotionals

Every Story Matters


I am a hoarder of moments.”

Matt Knisely’s words caught me in the very first paragraph of his new book, Framing Faith, for I’ve been living in moments, those overlooked glimpses of eternity tucked into every breath, every heartbeat of creation, for thirteen years.

It’s why I pick up my camera. To seek beauty beyond first glance.

Why I pause, eyes closed, to feel the dew beneath my feet, morning’s gentle breeze, sun’s sweet kiss caress my cheek.

It’s why I listen, to hear God’s still, small voice whispering through all creation.

Why I tap at the keys, wrestling the mist into words I can read. And remember.

For thirteen years, I’ve been living in moments, because life can change in a heartbeat.

I’ve watched it happen. When my brother slipped across the veil at 32. When my son got sick and never got well. When all three of my daughters were diagnosed with the very same disease. When my dear friend’s husband was ushered home to Jesus while he talked with her on the phone.

These moments, this mist that evaporates with the rising sun, are too exquisite to miss, too precious to squander in the squeeze of schedules. Too holy to waste waiting for tomorrow or next week or next year, or until the kids grow up, or there’s more time, more money, more bandwidth, less stress.

Matt says it well, “The gift of love is everywhere, but when we are viewing life through the wrong lens, we don’t pay attention to its awesome presence.

So I’ve learned to breathe by learning to see. Learning to listen and drink in the beauty tucked into every precious moment. By learning to tell my story.

The real story. Which felt right, until a few readers questioned why I would tell this story of so much medical. Why I would disclose our personal lives to the public. I only know it’s how I breathe, how I learn to unravel the chaos and see God.

Then I read, “For me to withhold my story would be to rip out a thread from the tapestry of humanity.

Matt spoke the words I couldn’t find.

My story matters. Whether one person or ten thousand read the words I write, whether or not my photography ever launches beyond a hobby, my story matters.

Every thread woven into the tapestry of humanity matters. Whether it’s an eye-catching streak or support thread, a glittering highlight or deep shadow, every thread matters.

For without each individual thread the tapestry is flawed, the weave incomplete.

So today, I’m giving away a copy of Matt’s book, Framing Faith, with an invitation for you to share your story, your own unique and creative thread, in any way you choose — a glimpse, a moment, precious and essential.

For a chance to win Matt’s book, Framing Faith, From Camera to Pen, share a moment of your story in the comments below. It can be an image, the link to a blog, Facebook post, or YouTube video, or simply the words of your heart.

Next week, I’ll be giving away another copy of Framing Faith, and one more the week after that, as I share a few more of my favorite quotes, a little more of my story, and always another image.

How will you share your story?


Filed under Devotionals

Finding Home

I’ve never had to go far to experience God. Just a few steps outside my own back door. Because I feel Him in spring lilacs drenched in rain, in verdant green and winter white, in thunder and in rain.


I feel Him as I break up winter-hardened earth, pull weeds, and harvest peas. As I breathe deep the symphony of blackbird and blue jay, cardinal and finch, rustling leaves and honeybee.


This oasis, just feet beyond my own back door, refreshes like rain after drought, softening fissures, washing away dried up clay, cleansing scars, purple and deep, of diagnoses and disease.

A respite. A chance to breathe the rhythmic melody. God in. Me out. God in. Me out.

But what if I can’t climb her walls? Or guard her arms? Or help him sleep? What if she beats me around every bend to the edge of the cliff…and leaps?

Even if,” I hear Him whisper, “Even then.”

And I have to believe. In the marrow of my bones so I can breathe.

For I’ve lost my way in this crazy decade. Started to grasp and cling and ache with fear.

But I didn’t start here. I trusted once. Strong and deep. Didn’t doubt when my brother died and I didn’t heal. When my son got sick and never got well. Through long nights and new meds and constant tests. I didn’t doubt when my second was diagnosed or my oldest longed to end his life.

I stood. Still. And believed.

Then my third and fourth were diagnosed, and my daughter stood above holy ground and threatened to leap, and melanoma slipped uninvited into the lymph nodes of my father’s neck, and I wavered and started to sink.

Hands clenched. Heart tight. Unable to trust. Or maybe unwilling. Eyes securely on me.

He whispered, but I couldn’t hear or wouldn’t, till my say-it-like-it-is, food-loving, sports-loving, fruit-eating, red-haired mother-in-law suddenly and unexpectedly slipped into eternity.

While my girls were at camp.

When I reached them hours later, one cried. And one ran. And I prayed. “They’ll be OK,” my oldest said sitting next to me on my daughter’s bed.

And the Spirit whispered. Words I’d memorized years before.

For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but one of power, of love, and of self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7

I’d been struggling these past few months to trust Him with my kids, so afraid they’ll slip away before they’re His. Secure.

Fear had wrapped itself around my heart. But we are His.

Even if things don’t turn out as I hope.

Even if my precious, incredible, hurting kids choose their own way out.

Even if. Even then.

I need to know it in the marrow of my bones so I can breathe.

“Even if. Even then,” He whispered again as darkness kissed the dawn and moonless night gave way to blushing day.

Just Him and me. In this oasis of the deep. Not steps beyond my own back door.

But with every breath, right at home in me.

It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Galatians 2:20


Joining the blog tour for Emily Wierenga’s beautiful new memoir, “Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look”.

Emily’s story is poignant and honest, lyrical and powerfully written. A journey of hope and pain, wonder and loss, adventure and amazing grace. A tender heart sometimes faltering, but ever seeking, always reaching for the very heart of God.

A five star read!


Filed under Devotionals

Choosing to See


Today I am choosing to see, to look beyond the ordinary for the extraordinary — the breath of God in every moment, His love infusing every breath, His still, small voice echoing in every heartbeat.

Will you join me?

Let’s encourage one another to see, to really see, sharing in the comments where we each see the extraordinary just beyond the shadows of the ordinary.


Filed under Photos and Quotes

Don’t Lift the Lid


Thursday is garbage day. Early in the morning we wheel clean receptacles and recycle bins just outside the garage door. Neat and tidy. Nothing unsightly.

Unless you lift the lid.

So much like me.

Neat and tidy. Matching clothes. Matching socks. Dusted. Vacuumed. Laundry done. Counters clean.

But don’t lift the lid.

Or you’ll see my ragged need for validation. My rotting desire to be enough. Clean enough. Strong enough. Thin enough. Smart enough. Wise enough.

Growing up, I was short and skinny and shy. My hands and feet sweated. I matured late, took a lot of meds and drink a can of pear nectar in class every morning, embarrassing my friends so much they finally wrote me a letter listing, “30 Reasons We No Longer Want to be Your Friend.”

Not enough.

Even though I was a cheerleader. Even though I got good grades. Because they said I didn’t earn it, didn’t deserve them, that it was all just because I was a teacher’s kid.

Then along came Confirmation Class. Eighteen months of independent study. I drank in every word. Wrote and studied and met with Pastor Gerber, and decided to go on to school for a theology degree.

Instead I graduated high school, switched colleges, married and divorced before I was 23, and worked to pay off a mountain of debt.

Four years later, I’d remarried and had a son. We lived in a little Cape Cod on a quiet street in a small town. On the outside life looked good.

Until you lifted the lid.


And discovered an anger that scared me. I could be out of control in minutes, and began to understand how someone can cross the line and abuse a child they love. I was afraid of hurting my son and equally afraid of confiding in my husband.

But God began to speak.

In McDonalds. On an ordinary day.

I’d walked in, ordered lunch, took my son by the hand and sat at a booth in the back. Three minutes later, my son had flung a French fry, torn up two napkins and scattered the pieces, climbed across the table, grabbed my iced tea and plunged his hand in deep, reaching for the lemon slice, tea erupting across the table, the floor, me.

I shoved my half-eaten burger in my purse, mopped up the booth and the floor with a dozen white napkins, hoisted my squirming son onto my hip, turned to leave and stopped mid-stride.

For there in the next booth sat a mom with four small children, sitting, talking, eating, smiling. And before I realized what I was doing, I’d crouched beside her and poured out my heart.


Her words sank deep. I knew about Jesus. But I didn’t know Jesus. My garbage cans were clean and tidy on the outside, but messy, rotten, and stinking on the inside.

I was not enough. But I was never meant to be.

Because He is.

Knowing Jesus isn’t about measuring up, cleaning up, being enough, but about drinking deep, leaning hard, letting go.

For only when He lives and breathes inside of me am I clean.


Inside and out.


*I’m deeply grateful to Michelle DeRusha for the opportunity to share my own spiritual misfit story. Her memoir, Spiritual Misfit, is raw and deep, authentic, and laugh-out-loud funny. I was hooked by page two and devoured it straight through page 219, sad to see it end. It will engage you, encourage you, amuse you, and leave you wanting more. More of the One who calls her name, your name, my name, the One who opens wide His arms to gather each and every one of His beloved misfits in. This post first appeared at Michelle’s place on May 16, 2014.


Filed under Devotionals

Poem for Today

I stand at the edge of day
gathering vulnerabilities
in the waning light,

smoothing folds,
tucking edges in tight,
like a crisp cotton sheet

over a well-worn mattress,
frayed at the edges,
lumpy and stained.

But lie down, stretch out,
and the years rise like steam
tugging against the seams

of this origami life.



Filed under Poetry

In Search of Him


Words are where I begin to understand, gain perspective, to process this life we’re living, where I seek the Deep and discover God in the messy midst.

Words are where I feel my heart beat, where I seek hope unfolding like dew-wet wings waiting to fly.

Because we have five precious kids. Four with significant, long-term illnesses.


Amazing kids navigating the teenage years with diseases few have ever heard of and even fewer understand. These kids live with nausea and migraines and nerve pain, dizziness, light-headedness and fainting. Some struggle to eat, constantly battling weight loss. Some struggle with tremor. One has chronic hives.

We see a team of doctors and administer a pharmacy of medications.

And it’s hard. On them. On my husband. On me.

So I write. To find balance and perspective. To peal back the dark in search of Him.


Because nothing is simple or straight-forward or easy with chronically ill kids. It’s a puzzle. I’m constantly seeking one more piece, one more pattern, one more cause and effect, watching, waiting, evaluating, processing. Constantly processing.

And I wonder, every time I make a parenting decision is this necessary right now? Does my teen have the emotional bandwidth to process this today? How much are his or her symptoms playing into the words, the actions, the attitude? How important is it really to make this point, hold firm on this issue, or expect this task to be completed on time or even at all, right now right where we are?

So I write. Seeking wisdom. And perspective.

I write to wade through the chaos in search of Truth. Truth that never changes. Regardless of the storm.

Because I want so much for my kids.

I want them to be well, but even more I want them to know God. Not to know about Him, but to know Him. Deeply. Personally. Intimately.

Right here. Right where we are. Right where it’s hardest.

Even if never gets better. Even if healing waits just beyond the veil.

Even then. Especially then. I want them to reach out across the veil and grasp His hand. Know His touch.

Trust Him.

So I write, to find meaning in these young adult lives flipped upside down, inside out, spun a hundred and eighty unexpected degrees.

I write to collect the hope spilling from their eyes, cradling it close to my heart.

I write to find the way, step-by-step through a future shrouded in fog.

I write to go on, rise up, pull the covers off each brand new day and seek the Light. Because it’s there.


Just beyond the dark. Iridescent wings glistening in the pastel dawn. Awaiting the sun’s gentle rays to rise and fly.

I write to seek Love. In every thought. Every word. Every breath. Made flesh.

For me. For us. Every one of the seven billion souls alive on this planet today.

The Word. His Word. Across the ages. Sewn into every moment. Every heart beat. Every breath.

I write always in search of Him.

*Deeply blessed by the friendship and online communities of Kelli Woodford and Nacole Simmons, and their recent blog series which inspired this post. You can visit them here: Six in the Hickory Sticks and Chronicles of Grace.


Filed under Devotionals

The Currency of Zero


“Did anything surprise you?” my husband asked.

“Not really,” I answered a little too quickly. “I know myself pretty well. I could have told you where I’d end up without answering all those questions.”

Pause. My husband wisely waits me out sometimes.

“Well, I guess one thing surprised me. For the past 21 years, I’ve been immersed in the area of my absolute weakness. Do you know I scored a zero – A ZERO! – in the Motivator category?”

“It’s what I do every day. Every single day. Motivate. Encourage. Find hope. Seek good.

“A zero. Not one single point. And this, this is where God chose to place me for the past 21 years? No wonder I’m exhausted!

For the past two decades, God has been chiseling away at my stubborn independence, sanding off my “I don’t really like other people” edges, teaching me to make eye contact when I’d rather just walk on by, encouraging me to step outside myself where I can be very content, and placing me in a household of ever increasing population.

And I’m not a people person. At all. I struggle with small talk. It actually makes me sweat. I can carry on a four-hour conversation about something that touches me deeply, but put me in a room where I need to converse casually and there is suddenly not a thought in my head. Not one. It’s embarrassing, my inability to chitchat, something I’ve struggled with all my life.

Enter five kids. And homeschooling. Add one mom who adores the quiet, the still, time alone to read, write and think in full sentences, and you get a glimpse of my life for the past two decades.

Deep and rich and good. Full and busy and peopled, spilling over with jackets and shoes and phones, laughter and tears and a crescendo of words, sometimes late, always worth it.

Yet for one who relishes time and space, solitude and quiet, who longs to retreat inside her own head, who all too often still has to remind herself to make eye contact with passers-by, to engage with the world at her doorstep, I’ve been stretched and chiseled and pruned by the Hand of God every single day of these past twenty-one years.

And isn’t that just like God?

To gather up the shards of our selfishness and pride and inconvenience? To choose, even when it stings, to winnow and sift?

To wrap His hands around our brokenness, our willfulness, our stubbornness and apply just the right amount of pressure to soften and mold?

To allow us the proper time to cure before sanding and glazing and firing?

To redeem the days, the shards, the years? Weaving the threads of His love into our hearts that we may one day be vessels fit for the King?

Brimful, spilling over, pouring out? To no credit of our own? But all to the glory of God?

Yup. That’s His Kingdom. Upside down and inside out.

Where the currency of zero is always precious tender.


Filed under Devotionals

From A Spring-Fed Well


to love without borders,

expecting nothing in return.

To love without prompt
from a spring-fed well,

regardless, in spite of,
right through the messy midst of,

saying with the heart,
“There is nothing you can do

to make me love you more,
and nothing you can do

to make me love you less.”

looking past imperfections
to hope,

who we were created to be,
who we can become in Christ.

To love
all-in, full-out,

without exception or condition
or end,

boundless, infinite,
beyond all human comprehension.

Possible only
with God, through God,

in God,
because He first loved us.

We love only
because He is


Whatever love we have,
whatever love we give —

however imperfect or skewed,
or misrepresented,

however conditional or grudging,
is His love

flowing through these broken vessels
damaged in the Fall,

redeemed by grace,

forgiven, restored,

to fulfill His unfathomable plan
for all Creation.

To love like Jesus.


Filed under Poetry

A Motto and an Opportunity

Click here for your free printable of the photo above.

Tonight I’m going to share something a little different — a t-shirt. Not just any t-shirt, but a battle cry, chosen by my Dad as his goal, his motto, his encouragement through twelve treatment cycles — fourteen days on, fourteen days off for a total of 168 days of treatment — for systemic melanoma in 2014.

Encouraged to write a goal, a reason, to persevere through a full year of Leukine therapy, my Dad spent a few weeks praying, and we prayed with him. Then one day it suddenly became clear to him in three phrases, one on the way down the stairs, one of the way back up, and one rounding the corner into the kitchen.

As we celebrated my Dad’s birthday a few days later, he placed a slip of paper in front of me, face-down. On it, his goal, weaving together family, friends and faith.

Breathe Deeply, Go Forward, Keep the Faith!

Breathe Deeply (and experience the immensity of God) from my blog, Go Forward, my brother’s motto, and Keep the Faith, a favorite saying of my Dad’s friend, Jim.

I instantly fell in love with my Dad’s goal and knew others might too. Good words from a good man, standing strong.

So here’s where I offer something different, these words on a printable, downloadable image, a gift from my heart to yours, and the opportunity to stand with my Dad across this great, big, wide world, and wear these words on a t-shirt.

Screenshot 2014-03-19 20.57.08

T-shirts can be ordered here from Ink to the People, a secure and reputable site, for $17.

For your free gift, a printable version of the photo at the top of this page, click here.

Blessings, Friends, from my heart to yours.

1 Comment

Filed under Devotionals