Thursday, September 12, 2019

Every Detail Ordained

Many hours were spent at the beach this summer with these two boys of mine. The beach calls our names. If I couldn't take Andrew, he would unicycle with a board on his head, attracting all kinds of attention from passing motorists. On those days I'd end up making a stop to find him between errands and chores. I'd sit on a rock to watch for a few moments.


I have some unexpected time to kill. Due to several flight delays, Jacob and I missed our connection and spent a few hours of sleep in Michigan. (In bed after 2 a.m.,  I can't exactly say we spent the "night.") Our luggage was also misdirected, and my credit card was used fraudulently. Fun times. Oh, but we did fly through a lightning storm, and that was pretty spectacular to watch from the plane window.

So we've got some time now as we wait for our next flight. We finally got a bite to eat and I'm hoping a cup of coffee will work some magic.

"Days Ordained" has been sort of a theme of my life. I don't mean this blog, of course, but the knowledge of God's sovereignty as it intimately relates to the big and not-so-big details of my life has been a comfort and incitement to live in acceptance with peace.

I have also bucked beneath the truth that all my days are intentionally ordained. Some details I wish were not as they are. I have often protested and failed to embrace the reality of God's care for me through the intentional details and circumstances (and not just despite those details). I am ever learning. I am learning to be his child, learning to be still, even content. Perhaps one day I will even attain to gratefulness for some of the more difficult aspects of my life through his transforming power.

Psalm 131:2 comes to mind: "But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content." This is a picture of calm assurance in God's care, and confidence in his love and provision to me, his child.

And as a child of the almighty God, I get to cling to him daily. The beautiful thing is that it is not my grip on him that even matters most, because he is the one who holds me securely in a grip that cannot fail. I picture myself regularly as a little girl whose hand is held by a strong Father-Warrior (a physical form my mind cannot imagine). He leads as I stumble along, my little legs flailing about to keep up. I may stumble regularly, but he will never, ever let me fall headlong. I am right to keep that mental picture: "The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand."  Ps. 37:23-24

There is a hymn that has brought much comfort to Jon and I over the past several month as we've journeyed along life and ministry. I listened to it on repeat yesterday as I journeyed thought skies of fiery, lightning-lit clouds. Truth grounds us, not matter where we are and what we face. We can hold fast to truth because upholding it is a Father who cannot fail.

(Click to listen. This version is particularly sweet to us because it is led by a friend who has walked with us through some of life's hardships.)

Whate'er my God ordains is right:
his holy will abideth;
I will be still, whate'er he doth,
and follow where he guideth.
He is my God; though dark my road,
he holds me that I shall not fall:
and so to him I leave it all.

Whate'er my God ordains is right:
he never will deceive me;
he leads me by the proper path;
I know he will not leave me.
I take, content, what he hath sent;
his hand can turn my griefs away,
and patiently I wait his day.

Whate'er my God ordains is right:
though now this cup, in drinking,
may bitter seem to my faint heart,
I take it, all unshrinking.
My God is true; each morn anew
sweet comfort yet shall fill my heart,
and pain and sorrow shall depart.

Whate'er my God ordains is right:
here shall my stand be taken;
though sorrow, need, or death be mine,
yet am I not forsaken.
My Father's care is round me there;
he holds me that I shall not fall:
and so to him I leave it all.


Wednesday, September 4, 2019

A Good Word


"Sometimes fear does not subside 
and one must choose to do it afraid." 
-E. Elliot

And let love be the motivator.


Monday, September 2, 2019

Donut Dip 2019

School has been underway for two weeks now, but as tradition would have it we started off the year with another Donut Dip morning. It's what we do on a morning of orientations and book pickup, just as the school year begins. We set out first thing in the morning, pick up a box of donuts, and run into the surf. There really is no time for lingering, but the moments together are savored. Knowing that each school year will bring new opportunities, challenges, and change, we dive into it and revel in the sweet moment of now. Our donut dip is a fun way to do it...

Bedheads are encouraged on this one morning.

Total simplicity is how we do it.

Michael didn't wait for the rest of us. He was too fast for my capture; his leg can been seen in the surf below...

We got one single shot on my camera's timer. Too bad for the guy with the silly run!!

One of my favorite summer activities is playing in the waves with my kids. I'm happy Jon captured the memory for me. I love the fact that this is us- all of us. Together. There is so much bound up in that one word, and gratitude is just one of them. I have much reason for rejoicing!

We moved Olivia into her dorm on Monday (more about that some other time). It's no joke that time goes by quickly. As for the school year, we now have university included to a lineup of community college, public charter, independent study, online classes, and homeschool. In addition to a plethora of other commitments, I feel I have a few too many balls to juggle. Experience has taught me, however, to just keep juggling and picking up the inevitable dropped balls. I'll be better at it when October comes around.

Happy September, friends!


Monday, August 12, 2019

An Encouragement to Persevere

As for man, his days are like grass;
    he flourishes like a flower of the field;
 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
    and its place knows it no more.
 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from 
everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
    and his righteousness to children's children,
 to those who keep his covenant
    and remember to do his commandments.
 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
    and his kingdom rules over all.
Ps. 103: 15-19

Images: Grand Teton NP, July 2019

I am an endless note taker, a scribbler down of ideas, quotes, verses, thoughts, mottoes, memories... I collect ideas and truths about life and eternity, and things that contribute to living meaningfully and with eternity in mind. I don't mean to be so pensive, and philosophy disinterests me, but I seem to have been created to see the profound in the ordinary and mundane. Maybe we all are this way, but just express it differently. I write in journals, on scraps of paper, receipts, bulletins, envelops, books, screens. I occasionally take pictures of my notes with my phone for safer keeping because I know what inevitably happens to bits of paper. My notes, if they survive, are squirreled away for later development or simply left for pondering at some undetermined future time. My little bits of written words are precious to me as they represent learning, growing, and gratefulness; what life would be without progress in these areas is unimaginable.

Many times my notes are just personal impression of an other's work. There is nothing new under the sun, just personal learning and application. Below are words I wrote on the pages of a book to summarize my take-away from a short biography. I'm transcribing here before I set the book back on the shelf and these words are buried away with the other notes within.

Persevere: The closing summation and value of your work is not found in this lifetime. Press into the opportunities God sets before you with faithful obedience and dependence, knowing God determines your present circumstances with great care and sovereign control. Trust that the final value of your work and the fruitfulness of your endeavors will ultimately be determined and eternally rewarded by God alone, not according to what we see now or how others pronounce verdict. And no matter how many things seem to go wrong according to our perspective, faithful work in the name of the Lord is never a net loss. "Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." (1 Cor. 15:58)


Wednesday, July 31, 2019

A Summer Summation

I'm just briefly dropping in to declare how thoroughly I am enjoying the summer. I will never pretend to have a perfect life (how boring that would be anyway!), but there are noteworthy things that make me grateful at every bend. Even the hot, sultry heat we had is worthy of thanksgiving; there's something so wonderful about stripping off a few items of clothing after an arduous and sweaty run and taking a plunge in the pool. I'll admit it's slightly indecent, and I never would have broken so many rules of proper conduct before, but - ah! - how freeing! And then when the temps change and cool down, how appreciative we are for restful nights once more.

My kids are all at such fun stages! Okay, it's true I've always said this, but I've always meant it with the utmost sincerity. Every stage has been my favorite. Here are just a few things that have stood out recently:

*There is an added hilarity to a boy's jokes when his voice is changing and cracking. I look at him and marvel at the person he is morphing into. Also, I am frequently alarmed by the sound of a man's voice coming from the boys' bedroom! Oh yeah, it's just my Andrew.

*I white-knuckled my first few rides as the passenger in a vehicle driven by Michael. I'm pretty proud of myself, though, for maintaining normal speaking and breathing patterns despite my distress. Teen drivers make me feel super young with adrenaline, and super old for having teen drivers.

*I had a late night talk with my boys about girls and crushes that made me gush with joy! Wait, what?! He's telling me this? What a privilege.

*A text that reads "I love you" from a son sailing way out in the Pacific while I'm way up in the Rockies is something worth savoring.

*Kitchen work is most pleasant with my girl who cracks jokes and makes me laugh because life is so good and funny.

*Kids that say, "Thanks, Mom, for doing this for us," when in truth I am equally loving all the trips to the beach, sleepovers, ice cream stops, and get-togethers.

*Reuniting. And lingering conversations around the barn wood table long after plates are cleared, while the setting sun and balmy ocean breeze amplify the magical ambiance of the moment.

*Watching a brother-sister bear hug after a time away is pretty rad.

And marriage? Well, I'm pretty sure it just gets better with time. Seasoned. And in many ways we get to relive our younger years before our babies came because we are too young to have kids beginning to fly the coup. We'll ring in 21 years tomorrow, the age of adulthood. For the record, I plan on us living a bit like we're in our twenties for the the next decade!

Jon and I sat across from each other on our overnight getaway and marveled, a bit teary eyed, at the goodness of God expressed in the people he has blessed us with through this marriage. We don't take this gift casually, this gift of raising and loving our children. It has all been so wonderful.

Tonight we are all back under one roof again, now that my boys are back from New Mexico. They clocked their ride from door to door at about 26 hours each way, mainly by bus. But by all accounts it was entirely worth it, and it is a thrill to hear them tell of the things they enjoyed the most. A testimony of God's saving work and the resulting transformation in the life of their small group leader seemed to have made an enormous impact. How grateful I am. I prayed fervently for God to give them sensitive spirits that are open to His love and transforming power, and eager for His forgiveness and invitation to relationship. This, I am sure, will be a life-long prayer, but it will always be marked with thanksgiving to a God who delights to save.

Olivia wrapped up an amazing 6-month internship today at a marketing firm, and we are now transitioning to getting her ready to move into a dorm in a few short weeks. The days we have left will all be savored in their entirety, even though I can only aspire to fully enter her joy and excitement.


Saturday, July 27, 2019

The Price of Adventure

I was 5 or 6 feet away from this guy, crouched behind the bumper of a car. I honestly didn't know about the 25 yard distance requirement. Admittedly, I allow adventure and jeopardy to over-ride common sense on occasion.

What could go wrong?

Well, we got back in the car and... "What's that smell? Does anyone smell that?!"

Bison poop on Andrew's shoe. Nearly as bad as getting charged.


Wednesday, July 10, 2019


"Let love be genuine.
Abhor what is evil;
hold fast to what is good."

Romans 12: 9

I am privileged to have several women in my life that I consider to be mothers in the faith. They have become so precious to me; they are sources of refinement and refreshment through their example and words of counsel. As I have matured, I have become increasingly aware of my need to be mothered and schooled in the way of life. With my own accumulation of life experience and maturity, I feel a greater need for intentional relationship with other women.

And in God's kindness, he has seen fit to provide me with such godly saints. They are sources of direction and encouragement through their words, prayers, and support. Their love for the Lord and their skillful employment of scripture in the circumstances of my life have been life-giving impetus to grow in my faith, to be deeply rooted in my knowledge of God, and to persist in the face of weariness.

The desert lands of life are opportunities to grasp the reality that our life-source is Christ himself. Do I really believe he is the only source of living water, that my faith is rooted and grounded in him alone? What we see here in this present chapter of our existence is not always a true reflection of what God is doing in his grander story.

As I have encountered some difficulties, I've had some good conversations on the topic of godly love. I've needed my mentors' help processing some situations; I've needed guidance in the practical display of love when situations and people are not as they appear on the surface, and advice to discern when love graciously covers and when it boldly reveals.

One of my counselors encouraged me to meditate on Romans 12 (starting in verse 9 to the end) and to use it as a guide for prayer. It begins:

"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good."

So much to think on right there. So much.

"Let love be genuine." So then, obviously, not all love is genuine. There is a type of pseudo-love, a fake love that masquerades as sincere, a kind of love that is self-serving and pretends affection for personal gain or gratification at the expense of another. This is not love.

How do we respond to that? We abhor it. This kind of "love" is evil.

Have you ever been the recipient of this kind of disingenuous love? Likely yes. The spectrum runs from flattery all the way to overt emotional or spiritual manipulation or abuse under the guise of love, and we have all been subject to some degree. It is an evil trickery. I can think of many ways "love" towards me has been disingenuous with empty words, profit from my willingness to serve, selfish demands, manipulative actions, and most of all, deceit.

So I must respond with wisdom, firmness, and... genuine love. Sometimes this requires speaking up, while other situations warrant an inner, personal resolve to be aware and prudent while still striving to love with selflessness. Sometimes, though,  genuine love is to cease enabling someone's sin by limiting or ending a relationship.

And in learning about this aspect of life, I am incredibly indebted to my mature friends!

I am also forced to ask the question: Are there areas of my life where love is not genuine?

Does my affection grow when I get my way, or dwindle when I don't? Is my love for another based on me? I'm certain that the answer is, "Sometimes, yes." My affections are undoubtedly tainted by selfishness.

It's worth thinking deeply about, and taking the time and effort to question motives and practises. How would my husband and children respond to this? Do I even have the courage and humility to ask? They would likely reveal what I refuse to see and admit.

Ultimately, I believe love cannot be genuine if Christ isn't the source and object of our satisfaction and joy. If we are not living for him and for his pleasure, then we are living for ourselves. If the orientation and reason for living isn't God, then it is self. If we look to others to satisfy us and give us purpose, then we will try to carve them into a version that suits our desires. We display disingenuous love in an attempt to make them satisfy us, and this love goes awry even further when they fail to do so.

And they will fail! This is simply because they are not God; they were never intended to deliver what only God can.

"Let love be genuine... hold fast to what is good."

Through Christ, our source and foundation is God alone. Run to him. Hold fast. Cling. Learn from his love and imitate through his empowerment.

"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." Eph. 3:14-19

And love like he first loved us.

(Images: April road trip stop through Yuma, AZ)


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