God Longs for My Heart

As I turn the page to a New Year, it feels fitting for a time of reflection both filled with confession and gratitude.   Philip Yancey in his book, Prayer, says this about confession...

Spiritual Practices Restore: Silence

If you've been following this BLOG you know we've been encouraging you to engage in a variety of spiritual practices or disciplines because we know they work.

When we engage in spiritual practices our souls are changed.

Traveling Together

Life offers an amazing assortment of moments filled with potential beyond our comprehension. I think way too often we only see a small portion of what is at stake.

Here's what I mean.

As I make time to share a meal with my family do I realize the potential of what could transpire as we eat together? Could it be as we share our BEST and WORST of the day, we get to see a glimpse of a dream God has planted deep inside one of us as we share? Could it be that we are invited in to see place of vulnerability in each other? Or maybe it is simply in the shared laughter we find perspective and strength.

You see in those ordinary moments the potential for the extraordinary is always present. The question is... will we see it and will we seize it. Will we do our very best to take hold of it?

Extra Water Needed

My flowers are showing the impact of long hot summer days. What you see is not necessarily neglect but rather the effects of not adjusting and adapting my care in relation to the harsh realities of summer.

Yes, I've been giving them a drink of water "almost" everyday like I was in the Spring and early Summer. However, I have not compensated for the increase in the heat index nor the decrease in the natural watering of rain.

Just like in life, difficult seasons come and go. It's during those dry times we have to do some extra watering or in the spiritual sense put some extra time and effort in spending time with God seeking to know Him more fully.

Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

In this place, by God and with God, the water is abundant.

P.S. Amazing how things can change in only a few weeks of concentrated watering. :)

It Takes a Village

Yesterday, we celebrated our daughter's high school graduation. Our hearts were delighted as family and friends filled our home helping us mark this moment.

I am deeply grateful for those women and men who have loved our daughter, Chelsea, well over the years. We smiled, laughed and even shed a tear or two as we recounted the various stories and memories of a beautiful blond little girl!

Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, dear friends, bosses, co-workers, and neighbors... a whole assortment of characters joined us not only yesterday, but in their own way to help us "raise" our daughter and "cheer" her on as she has become the amazing young woman she is today.

As I look back at yesterday, here's what I'll remember...
Chelsea greeting, talking, smiling and laughing

seeing my best friend from my own growing up years who drove for hours to surprise us... even though Chelsea chose Purdue instead of Miami University

grandparents, cousins, aunts & uncles who have been some of Chelsea's biggest advocates and cheerleaders

a dear friend who has never met Chels but has generously prayed for her for the last decade

another dear friend who has been my cheerleader and encourager for the past decade... the countless hugs and words will never be forgotten

a beautiful book created to chronicle the grand adventures of girl's getaways -- an annual tradition

a couple of families who have joined us in what we call "co-parenting" -- who knew it would take multiple moms & dads for our kids :)

two of Chelsea's horse instructors... one who planted some amazing seeds in Chelsea through hours at the barn and as Chels transitioned between horses to finally adopting Eddy. and another instructor who has spurred Chelsea on to even more both as a rider and young woman

a few friends who showed up with cookies, a yard game, extra chairs, and smiling faces eager to lend a hand

another woman who has literally walked and talked with Chels since her freshman year in high school

the "sisters" of chels from those in the backyard, those in Fort Wayne, and those who have done life with Chels over the years

the wonderful cards and wishes that have been arriving in our mailbox

and the blessing of our many friends from close and far...


So, here's to Chelsea...here's to friends and family... and here's to what's next!

Thank you, God for our daughter and the village you've surrounded us with. We are deeply grateful for how you've lavished your love upon us through these folks!

Sweet Reminders

My sister-in-law is one of the most generous people I know. She expresses her love most often by being a giver of gifts as she searches for treasures and gives them away.

A few years ago, she and I were hanging out, browsing around our local TJ Maxx when I came upon some drinking glasses with bees etched around the top. I loved them! They reminded me of the book I had just finished by Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees. This novel speaks of the power of love and connection. This books speaks to the power of inviting others in and to investing our lives in each other.

Thanks to my sister-in-law's generosity I now have this set of glasses as a reminder of our day together and as a reminder of the things Kidd's book prompted in me.

I smile each time I savor a cold drink with a friend or family member -- grateful for what has transpired and expectant for what possiblities lie ahead. And maybe more importantly, as a reminder that my God leads me beside cool waters and quenches my thirsty soul.

They will neither hunger nor thirst. The searing sun and scorching desert winds will not reach them anymore. For the LORD in his mercy will lead them beside cool waters.
Isaiah 49:10

Do you have a story of a sweet reminder?

The Magnitude of God

This song and images SCREAM to the existence of God.
It speaks of the VAST creation, the INTRICATE details and the DELICATE balance HE has set into motion. It exhibits the incredible BEAUTY of his handiwork.


The Intimate Nature of God

Sweet Jesus -- My Shepherd and My Friend

Entering into David's story with God (especially as recorded in the Psalms), you’ll see David continued to GAIN a greater understanding of BOTH the MAGNITUDE and INTIMATE NATURE of God. He found what we can find -- even in today's world -- a growing knowledge, understanding, and appreciaton of God.

Psalm 139:1-4
O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. You hem me in - behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

How do you know you are growing? You'll learn to TRUST God more fully, you'll be able to RELY on Him in all circumstances, and you'll ultimately find REST and PEACE in Him.

Play - experiencing the goodness of God

This week I've been reading The Good and Beautiful Life and one of our first soul training exercises was PLAY. I know I thought that seemed odd too.

Here’s what I've been learning about play… or should I say I've been experiencing as I play. Play is one thing we absolutely cannot control. It unfolds and by its very nature is spontaneous. We take down our defenses and open ourselves up to whatever happens next.

So, how can PLAY be a spiritual practice?

James Bryan Smith (the author of The Good and Beautiful Life) says this:

We play because God is good. Grace is sufficient for us. God wants us to be full of joy, and play is a way to experience the goodness of God and the richness of life.

Play is an act of self-abandonment: we stop taking ourselves so seriously and simply enjoy life. In one sense the kingdom of God is like a playground. Safe within the confines of a play area, with trusting parents overseeing their children, kids are free to slide and spin and climb and enjoy every moment. Because our heavenly Father watches over us, we are free to let go and play.

For me, when I play I trust God. When I play I experience joyful expectation of what might happen next. When I play I stop being so self-aware, let go and enjoy the present.

A Snow Recess

I’m sitting by the fire noticing the beauty of the falling snow this morning. Our week has been full of sleet, freezing rain and a constant winter storm advisory.

For many, the wintry weather forced us to slow down, regroup and re purpose our days. Streets and sidewalks are treacherous causing schools to be closed for days and even colleges to call for the almost unheard of snow recess day.

Most of what was on my calendar has been postponed and replaced with other things. For me, what was a packed week of meetings and activities became an assortment of surprise gifts. I found time to take care of some thing that desperately needed my attention, like sorting socks who have lost their mates.

I've also had extra time to savor quiet moments to breathe deeply while approaching my days with less intensity. An added bonus -- we made time to reconnect with our family and hang out with friends. One evening we took advantage of a snow recess day to share dinner with our neighbors and play Catch Phrase with six teenagers. The smiles were easy and the laughter was generous as we cheered each other on.

Maybe, we all needed a respite from our normal routines. I know I did.

Some things are different & some things are just the same!

Another year has come and gone. Its always a bit odd for me when something comes to an end. Whether I am finishing the last few pages of a journal, trying to squeeze in one more adventure at the end of vacation, or the closing moments of time shared with family and friends there is sadness and joy.

Sadness rolls over my soul as the treasured time is coming to an end YET I also feel joy as I am grateful for life, places of respite, and a bounty of family and friends. I like the way Dr. Suess and my friend Judy puts it...

Don't cry because it's over.
Smile because it happened

The first hours of this new year, we enjoyed breakfast at my parents --in the house I spent my growing up years in. I think I am still in those growing up years and will likely always be. The table is larger and now includes our own children.

Here's what I am thinking about right now... some things are different and some things are the same.

We've all grown older and look a bit different. We've each faced challenging circumstances and we've been blessed beyond words. We've laughed hard and we've cried just as hard. We've welcomed new family members and we've said goodbye to others. Life has been good, not perfect, but good.

Today, I am smiling because IT (all of it) happened.

Here's just one picture of one of the things that made me smile this year -- a trip to Milwaukee to celebrate my daughter's 18th!