Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ron Weasley

He's easy to overlook.  He's the only character you can't buy as a single Lego.  His picture is the one in the crease of the magazine.  But he's a faithful friend.  He sticks through the bobbles and trials that come with years of friendship, and without him, the trio just doesn't work.

Like him, I may struggle with my role.  (Who doesn't want to be the hero? To have their own lego? To not be the "other guy" in the picture spread?)  I may not always feel like a hero, but I just may be someone's Ron.  And when all is said and done, I hope I can be like him and stick it out to the end. 

Yep, I kinda want to be a Ron Weasley.

Old Bay

I know I'm supposed to be the salt of the earth, but I think I would rather be the Old Bay.  There's no seasoning quite like it.  (And if you're from Maryland like I am...it just tastes like home.)  Old Bay stays with you. It warms your mouth and lingers long after the food is gone. That's the impression I want to leave with people.

That's how Jesus is with me.

Monday, August 6, 2012


I love the Olympics.  LOVE them.

I love the huge triumph. The crushing defeat. The fact that 1/100 of a second "is apparently a huge crapload of time." (Thank you Jimmy Fallon.) The heartwarming human interest story. The world coming together for 17 days. A parent cheering. A coach looking proud. A record broken. An athlete looking terrified (or proud or bold or happy or humbled). National anthems. Camaraderie between competitors. The antics of Mary Carillo. Familiar heroes. Emerging stars. Inspirational commercials. The Olympic spirit.

I love it all.

The 2008 summer games were a lot of fun because I could watch so many of the events live.  (Including my favorite moment from Beijing -- Jason Lezak's anchor leg in the men's 4x100 relay.  I'll never forget that.)  The 2012 games have been different.  Between the time difference, my lack of cable at home, and NBC's broadcast strategy, I haven't had the opportunity to watch many things (especially "headline events") unfold live.  So I haven't been as addicted to the TV during daylight hours.

But then there's NBCOlympics.com. 

A section on the front page that lists all the medal events of the day.  And as each event occurs in London, the page is updated in the USA.  Even more awesome, if it's an event like gymnastics you can open the event page and it updates after each competitor completes their routine.

Last week I spent a lot of time watching that page.  Counting down the hours and minutes to the events.  Anxiously hitting "refresh" every few moments so I could get the results as soon as technologically possible.

And let me tell you, when Michael Phelps won his 18th medal I screamed "YES!" just as loudly as I would have if I could have watched it live.  (When he won his 19th an hour later, I gazed at my computer quiet pride that wasn't any less keen because all I saw was text on a monitor.)

When Danell Leyva and John Orozco were vying for men's all around gold, I felt my heart drop just as much for their pommel horse scores as I would have if I had seen their routines on screen.  (Does it mean I watch too much when I can tell that much from a simple 13.5 and 12.566?  On second thought, don't answer that.) 

Those are just two examples.

Even though I knew I would get a chance to watch the video, even though I knew WTOP would inform me as soon as I got in the car, I felt...compelled...to stay connected to the web page.  If a race was scheduled for 3:37, I was hitting refresh every minute by 3:38.  (Every 30 seconds by 3:39). If the gymnastics scores didn't update every minute, I wondered what was going on. 

I just had to know!

Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.

It got me thinking.  When was the last time I felt that driven to connect to God?  Sure, the connection is there. But when was the last time I hit "refresh"? What if I was that passionate about being as up-to-the-second with what he was doing?   

How might my life change?


It was a warm summer night about a year ago.  I was house sitting, curled up in a chair reading. The window was cracked open so I could enjoy the evening air.  A few chapters in, my mind was torn from the drama on the page by the faint strains of music wafting through breeze.  After pausing to get a better listen, I realized I knew the tune.  It was a praise and worship song.  Curiosity got the better of me and I untangled myself from the pile of puppies that surrounded my feet to look out the window and see what was going on. 

It was such an endearing scene.  A group of people was gathered in front of the house next door. They had built a fire, and were just sitting around enjoying each other's company. Some people were sitting on the porch, others were gathered by the fire.  One guy had a guitar, and he was leading the song.  A few others were singing with him, even providing harmony at times.

Despite the song that caught my ear, it became quickly apparent that it wasn't a serious night.  The song dwindled to silence and a new one started.  One that quickly turned silly.  The main singer changed the lyrics (inserting names and jokes and such) and it quickly became a group effort -- equal parts singing and laughter.

I settled back into my chair and let the sounds of their friendship become the soundtrack of my night.  It made me think of memories I treasure -- Of a summer when we lost power at church camp and just sat around singing and goofing off.  Of impromptu moments in the hallways at Winterfest.  Of bonfire singing and smores at Arlington Echo.  Of late nights with "Mike and the Ferrantes" in a living room in Columbia.

They had no idea of course, but their fireside music filled me with hope.  To know that the cycle continues.  That there's a new generation of people that love Jesus, but who obviously love each other too.  That know how to have fun and not take things so seriously.  That change song lyrics and mix pop songs with praise and worship.  That stay up way too late and fill their nights with laughter and conversation. 

Faith. Friendship. Fire. ...hope for the future. (Passing the torch?)

Later, I learned that house is some sort of halfway home.  I don't know why, but that just makes the hope burn all the brighter.

Not Alone

It was a simple Facebook invite:  "The Worship Collective is meeting tomorrow to do a little manual labor! We are starting the build out of the South Street Chapel Project, and I'm looking for some volunteers who are willing to get a little sweaty doing some honest work then get some ice cream at Kilwins."

Manual labor and ice cream?  I was immediately in.

A day later, four of us made our way into the basement that will one day be an awesome chapel space.  We surveyed the situation (lots of "potential" if you catch my drift), geared up (dust masks have never looked so stylish), and got to work.

There's truth in the old adage "many hands make for light work."  By our powers combined, we were able to get the space all cleaned and ready for the crew who would come in later to lay the floor.  It only took a little more than an hour, but the room completely transformed.  I think we were all surprised at how quickly it all came together.

But the real surprise came later.

I don't remember how the conversation got started.  Maybe it just came out of the comfortable silence that happens between people who have just bonded over a shared experience.  But while we were perched outside of Kilwins enjoying our ice cream, I remember Rachel opening up and admitting,  "I feel like I've been fighting something and I just can't figure out what I'm fighting.  I don't know what it is, but I've just been feeling frustrated and angry and I don't know why."

You know what I felt?  Relief.  It was like she had just looked into all the stuff that was swirling around in my heart and put my emotions into words.  But as I was getting ready to tell her that, Casey spoke up and said, "Me too."

I don't know if I can describe it correctly, but suddenly we weren't just fellow workers. In the time it took to eat a few bites of ice cream, we became brothers in arms. Separately, we had all been struggling with the same thing.  Fighting a battle but afraid to speak up.  Because who wants to admit they're struggling?  Especially if they can't find a name or a reason for what they're fighting.  Besides, we're all normally fun, quirky, creative people.  People who are passionate about lifting the burdens of others, not adding to them with our own.

Oddly enough, the wisdom of Luna Lovegood came to mind.

Luna: We believe you, by the way. That He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is back, and you fought him, and the Ministry and the Prophet are conspiring against you and Dumbledore.

Harry: Thanks. Seems you’re about the only ones that do.

Luna: I don’t think that’s true. But I suppose that’s how he wants you to feel.

Harry: What do you mean?

Luna: Well if I were You-Know-Who, I’d want you to feel cut off from everyone else. Because if it’s just you alone you’re not as much of a threat.
(Order of the Phoenix)

Ironically, Rachel sharing her burden didn't make mine heavier. In some sort of reverse physics, sharing her burden ended up lifting mine and when I left for home that night, it wasn't just the room that had been been transformed.  Sure, my circumstances were still the same.  And to be honest, the battle still raged.  But suddenly, I didn't feel so alone.  My nameless fear had become a common foe.

And somehow that changed everything. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


I was getting ready to go out, and quickly throwing my outfit together.  (Jeans and a t-shirt. Very fancy.)  My eyes landed on the new "Team Tebow" shirt that I had draped over my favorite chair.  But I thought, "No, I can't wear that today.  It wouldn't represent the name Tim Tebow very well."

What does that say about the power of a name, and of a reputation?  I can't remember where it was I was headed.  But I do remember stopping and thinking about wearing his shirt.  Tebow's an outspoken Christian who takes his testimony very seriously, and because he's a well-known football player, he gets a lot of scrutiny.  I actually asked myself: "How might I hurt his message by wearing his shirt in a situation he might avoid?" and opted for a different shirt. 

Do I not realize my reputation is on the line too?  Why am I any less passionate about protecting it? 
Do I think I'm any less a representative of Christ?  His name may not be stitched into the fabric of my clothes, but it's inextricably stitched into the fabric of my life.

Conviction from a t-shirt.  Thanks Tim.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Pep Talk

This has been an interesting few months.  I've been thinking a lot about turning 30.  Looking forward to it actually.  I'm not scared of the number, or of the time that's passed or that's to come.  But I've been thinking a lot about what's important to me.  I want to travel light, and to only carry forward the things that add to the story I want to be telling with my life.  Overanalyzing?  Maybe.  But this is one case when I'd rather over analyze than to let myself get swept along by the currents of adult life.

Anyway, I started focusing on one habit at a time.  Eating. Exercise. Cleaning out the attic.  Fixing the house.  Returning to regular blogging. And when I'm focusing on that one thing, I do a good job.  But keeping the ball rolling can be a challenge.  Especially when 1) I tend to have very high expectations of myself and 2) life happens.

You know what?  It's awfully hard to get back on a wagon once you've fallen off a time or two.   I love the quote that says, “Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow.” I love it.  And I believe it.  But I'm also realizing that it's hard to actually give myself the space it takes to walk it out. 

Take something as simple as eating healthy.  Earlier this year, I adopted a very strict diet for a set period of time.  It was a challenge, but I did it. And it felt great!  ...then the "challenge" was over and my old habits started creeping back in again.  (I love you ice cream.  But I should love you in smaller doses.)  And now, even though I've tried to be strict again, I just keep falling off that wagon.

Sticking to things is difficult.  I guess that's what makes it so impressive when people do it. 

I think this is what I have to remember.  This is my advice to myself:  Keep trying again tomorrow.  These are long-term habits you're building.  On one hand, no one is judging you.  It doesn't matter.  But on the other hand, people are watching you.  It takes a sort of courage to say no to that ice cream. To find time for that run. To tackle that closet. To write that post.  It also takes courage to face those every day moments with joy.  So keep the ball rolling.  It's ok.  This is your life.  Fall down three times and get up four.  Try again tomorrow. 

*whew*  Thanks for letting me get that out there.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Giving.  That's the side of the equation that is most familiar to me.  I was raised by two truly generous people who didn't just teach me to give of my time, of my resources, and of myself...they modeled it for me every day.  They still do.

Like most givers, it can be very difficult to recieve.  I'll admit part of it is a pride thing.  I know I live a blessed life, and I want to be able to do things on my own.

So when God laid on my heart to send out a letter about the mission trip I'm going on with my mother, I really struggled about it.  I really struggled.  But the idea or impulse or whatever you want to call it just wouldn't let me go.  I finally convinced myself that besides just being begrudgingly obedient, I wasn't doing this for me...I was doing this to help my mom.  It's not about me.  It's about her.

See, I'm not receiving.  I'm giving.  *insert cheesy grin here*

I wrote what was in my heart, sent it out, and kinda placed it in God's hands. I was only hoping for enough to cover my mom's expenses. But her faith, and God's plans, were much bigger.

The money for the trip is due July 1st, but already we have more than enough to pay for the both of us. The both of us!  And more money is on the way!  Through the generosity of our sponsors, we will not only be able to go, but we will be able to bless others -- to sponsor ministers to attend the training that will be offered during the day and to give a gift to each of the orphanages we visit as well.

What God is teaching me:

The power of many, small donations.  I needed to see this because even though I'm a giver, I often feel guilty about only being able to give a little bit. But seeing the power of all the little bits is showing me that support is not really about me and what I can give. It's about being obedient and a good steward of whatever my resources are. By a whole bunch of little bits combined, stuff happens.  And the result is somehow so much more than sum of all the little parts.  "Every little bit helps." -- I thought that was just something people said to make be feel better, but it's not.  It's a powerful truth and I'm seeing it in action. 

The value of prayer support. There are people who can't give financially, but who are partnering with us spiritually through prayer. And it's something that I know in my head -- prayer means so much -- but now that I am on the receiving end of it, I can honestly say that prayer means so much. It doesn't matter to me that there isn't money attached. Knowing that people I care about are standing with me, believing with me, and investing in what God is doing...it's hard to put that into words. But it's a great lesson.

I don't think I would have learned it had I not been on the receiving end.


I have been learning how to look at the Bible with a Hebrew mindset.  It's been challenging my theology and deepening my faith. 

For example, was enlightening to learn how the Hebrew language is written.  Instead of letters representing sounds like they do in English, each letter is symbol and the meaning of any Hebrew word takes the combination of each letter to make a meaning.  As one translator puts it “each Hebrew letter is a picture so each word is like a comic strip.”

"We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." Isaiah 53:6

In my Western mind, I usually group iniquity in with sin.  The two are pretty much Biblical synonymns to me.  But the combination of Hebrew letters used to form the word “ iniquity” translate to the picture “that which your eye hooks onto, multiplies.”

It's a principle that can be good or bad.  For example, back before the bite of fruit Eve saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye.  Her eye was hooked and it all went downhill after that.  The writer of Hebrews encourages us to "run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith."  Whatever our eye hooks onto multiplies.  Iniquity is a picture of the battle that rages in our mind.

...and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

This is what clicked for me:  Jesus just didn't take on our fully realized sins, he took on everything back to the moment our eyes got hooked onto the wrong thing. It makes so much sense doesn't it?  If "you've heard it said...but I say..." took the meaning of the law deeper, wouldn't it be just like Jesus to take his sacrifice and provision just as deep?

This is going to sound silly, but when I realized that, I felt like I had just found a $20 bill in the pocket of my favorite coat.  I knew it would keep me warm, that extra gift just takes it to a whole new happy place.  Like I'd been struggling with how to pay a bill, when all along it's already been taken care of.

How great is this love that has been lavished on us.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Not too long ago, someone gave me an "Orgreenic" pan.  My benevolent patron raved about its non-stick surface that requires little to no butter or oil while cooking.  And while I would love to say my first Orgreenic cooking venture was was a tremendous success...

My new pan did not live up to my expectations.

I had envisioned two over-easy eggs sliding merrily onto my favorite breakfast plate.  Instead, I found myself salvaging what mangled eggs I could and scrubbing the rest off my "non-stick" pan.  In short:  It was an epic fail.

Now before you scold me about needing to "season" Orgreenic cookware before using it, please rest assured that I did.  (How does one season a pan? Coat the green surface with vegetable oil and keep it on medium to high heat until it starts to smoke. Then let it cool completely and wipe it with a paper towel, and it's ready to go. ...allegedly.)

Maybe I used the wrong oil.  Maybe I didn't let it smoke to the proper level.  But whatever happened, my pan didn't make it to non-stick status.

I was really disappointed.  The pan is totally usable, but it wasn't very "Orgreenic."  And that's what I was so excited about.  That special quality that made it different from other, ordinary pans.

And as I was scrubbing off that first pathetic attempt at an egg, I realized something:  I have something in common with my new pan. 

I've been messing up.  Missing the mark in a few areas that I didn't struggle with in the past.  Where once I confidently produced eggs perfectly over easy, I've been scraping away nothing more than a scrambled, mangled mess.  Somehow I lost my non-sticky-ness.  (In one area in particular, it scared me to admit just how bad things had become.)  Not Orgreenic at all.

Conviction chooses the strangest time to surface, doesn't it?

So now what?

I wrote the first part of this post a few weeks ago.  After drafting the story of the messed up eggs, I took a closer look at the directions and discovered even if seasoning is successful, it doesn't last forever. "To maintain the exceptional performance of Orgreenic, we recommend you repeat the seasoning process at least twice a year." So I tried it again. I went out and bought some new vegetable oil.  Then heated my pan over medium heat until it started to smoke.  (Which, by the way, takes a fair amount of time.  It definitely requires patience.)  When the smoke finally arrived, I took the pan off the burner, let it cool, cleaned it off, and returned it to the cabinet until I was brave enough to try to cook some new eggs.

I'm very happy to report that they were beautiful.  Perfectly over-easy and wonderfully delicious.

I think there's hope for me too.

Oh, the argument in my head raged for a while!   The guilt side of my brain shouted: "Once salt has lost it's saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It's good for nothing except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot."  But the grace side of my brain answered: "He that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out." "We recommend you repeat the seasoning process at least twice a year." 

Over and over, I've seen "where sin abounded, grace abounded much more." God's not in the throwing-out business, and I know he's patient enough to season me and bring out my Orgreenic quality again.  Restoration is somewhat of a specialty of his.

Oh yes, I'm certain there's hope for me too.

Bring on the eggs.

"Don't assume you're good soil." ~ Francis Chan, Crazy Love

"Until you're broken for your sins you can't be social." ~ Jimmy Needham, Clear The Stage

"You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows." ~ Psalm 23:5

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Mother. Myanmar. Teddy Bears.

In recent months, I've seen seen the power that social networks have to bring people together and cause real, positive change.  So please allow me the chance to boost the signal for this very special opportunity in my life.

I love getting the chance to describe my mother to those who have never met her. I usually open with the statement: “If God was going to create a teddy bear, it would be exactly like my mother.” She’s tenderhearted, full of compassion, and there’s nothing quite like her hugs.

She’s been using all of those things in her career as a nurse. In fact, most of the children who grew up with me going to retreats or summer camps in the region simply know her as “Nurse Stephanie.” (This is true of children who grew up after me too. She kept volunteering long after I had grown up.)

Last fall, my mom told me that one of the things on her “bucket list” was going on a mission trip. She told me that it had long been a desire of her heart to use her nursing gifts to help women and children in a third world country. She asked me, “If the opportunity comes, would you go with me?” Without hesitation, my answer was yes.

Long story short: A few months after she shared this with me, she was asked to join a mission trip going to Myanmar in October of this year. The trip has a few components, but the most important one to me is that my mother is going to have the opportunity to serve as a nurse in every city we visit. And I will have the distinct honor to serve alongside her.

This trip itself is an answer to prayer, but I would be so grateful if you partnered with me in prayer for this trip: for the itinerary to run smoothly, for the women and children we are going to serve, for my mother as she journeys to a strange land for the first time, for the two of us to grow through this experience.

And here it is: I’m usually too self-reliant to ask, but would you consider partnering with my mother and me with your finances? The trip costs $3,000 per person and the bulk of the money is due by July 1st. Donations are tax-deductible and can be sent to to WWCM (World Class Cities Ministries) at 6499 Wesley Ln, Elkridge, MD 21075.  Please indicate "Stephanie Leake Mission" on your donation. Any resources that go above and beyond our traveling expenses will go toward supporting the orphanages we will visit while in Myanmar.

The awkward part aside… thank you for reading. I decided to post this on my blog simply because I wanted to share the news. So whether it’s through your thoughts and prayers, or though your finances (or both), thank you for helping me help my mom. I am really looking forward to introducing a whole new set of children to her teddy bear hugs.

Friday, May 18, 2012


I stood there at the counter, watching the consignment store manager.  Because of a postponed yard sale, I had decided to try out the whole consignment process.  But one by one, nearly all of my clothes were relegated to the reject pile.  "Well....if these were a better brand."  "These just aren't in this season."  "Maybe if they were made of better materials..."

Better brand indeed.  Humph.  I smiled, thanked her for her time, and went to a place where I knew my clothes would be welcomed with open arms.

I drove straight to Goodwill.

And in that moment, a still small voice spoke to my heart:  Regardless of how you might label or brand yourself, in those times when you wish you were made of better stuff, when you are judged and placed in the rejection pile... take heart.  You were designed on purpose, and there will always be people who can be blessed by who you are and what you can give.

After all, what did that angel declare on a starry night so long ago?  "Peace on earth, Goodwill toward men."

It may be a silly thought.  But I hope it can be an encouraging one just the same.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. ~ Psalm 139:14

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


The first thing I do when I open my jar of almond butter?  Give it a good stirring.  Because if I don't, there's a nice little layer of oil right at the top.  And I'm not after just the oil, I want a rich and crunchy spoonful of almond butter.

Oil separation is natural in organic butters.  (Peanut butter, almond butter, etc.)  As they sit still in their jars, the nuts naturally settle to the bottom while the oil rises to the top. 

But it got me thinking.

About sitting still, and getting separated.
About the benefits of being stirred up every once in a while.
About the need to have oil blended over, under, around, and through all the parts of my life, and not just sitting on top.

I've always known I'm a bit nutty.
(I'm thankful for a God who stirs.)

"I will show you my faith by what I do." ~ James 2:18

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


I'm a notoriously light packer.  Maybe it's from flying on standby so much.  I never know what flight I'll be on, or what route I'll take, so I pack everything in my trusty duffle bag and backpack.  Perhaps I shouldn't call myself a "light" packer, because I can fit quite a bit in those little bags.  Carrying them through airports (or through cities--true story) can make them heavy indeed.  But I'm stubborn about it.  It's my stuff.  I'll carry it with me.

My stubbornness has come in handy a time or two.  Once, I had to bail on a flight because the pilot abandoned the plane.  He landed it, but then walked away and disappeared without a word, leaving a planeful of anxious travelors who needed to make international connections.  Thanks to my ability to read between the lines of the announcements, and to the kindness of the operations agent, I was able to grab my carry-ons and make a whirlwind drive by taxi to another airport where I caught the last seat on the last plane to my destination.  Whew!  (But that was also the trip where I discovered just how heavy bags can be when you have to carry them across a city.)

On one of my few trips when I knew both my starting point and my end destination, the first flight was too crowded for me to take both my carry-ons.  I was only allowed one personal item.  Everything else was checked through to the final destination.  I was super apprehensive about it.  But I had no choice other than handing over my trusty duffle bag.

Much to my surprise, it was glorious!

For the rest of the trip, I felt so light and carefree!  I had room.  I didn't have to wrestle with the overhead luggage bins.  I didn't have to carry things through airports.  I didn't have to sqeeze myself and all my goodies into tiny European bathrooms.  It was wonderful!  And when I made it home, my stuff was right there waiting for me.

We all have things that we are carrying with us through life -- baggage.  It's not an unfamiliar metaphor.  And we've all been encouraged to unpack our baggage, or to leave things at an altar.  But here's a new picture for you.  What if instead of seeing our stuff as "baggage," we pictured it as "luggage"?  After all, some of my most painful memories (my heaviest bags) seem to stick as close as the overhead bin, and get heavier the further I have to carry them. 

What if I made the choice to check my bags all the way through to their destination?  After all, at the end of this journey, everything I have (the good and the bad) is going to be laid at the feet of my heavenly father. Rather than carry it all the way there, I'll just send it through and leave it at his feet now.   

I guess it's the same principle.  But sometimes the mental picture makes all the difference.  And this one lit up my heart because while I don't know what route my life will take, I do know where I'm from and where I'm going.  I won't be leaving my baggage luggage somewhere for me to go back to. From now on, I'm sending it on ahead.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30

Friday, May 11, 2012


I was praying and got this beautiful picture in my heart. 

There's something special about light breaking through clouds.  Those beams of light just seem to automatically inspire a sense of triumph, awe, glory...hope. 

Did you know that they have a fancy name?  They're called "crepuscular rays."  In fact, here's the definition:

Crepuscular rays ( /krɨˈpʌskjələr/; also known as God's rays), in atmospheric optics, are rays of sunlight that appear to radiate from a single point in the sky, specifically, where the sun is. These rays, which stream through gaps in clouds or between other objects, are columns of sunlit air separated by darker cloud-shadowed regions. The name comes from their frequent occurrences during crepuscular hours (those around dawn and dusk), when the contrasts between light and dark are the most obvious.

It's totally ok if you skimmed through that.  I just love how they are also known as "God's rays." Because that's usually what I think about:  God's presence breaking through.  An "ahhhh" moment (the kind that requires a triumphant soundtrack).  The rain stops, the clouds part, and....ta-da!  Something glorious.

Here was my thought:  My life is little more than vapor.  A bit of cloud.  And though I want to do so much, or be so much, maybe the best thing I can do is just get out of the way and let God's glory shine all the brighter through my brokenness.  To let the hope I have inside my heart spread like crepuscular rays into the world around me. Cutting through the rain, the despair, the darkness...and pointing right to where the Son is.

"For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away." James 4:14
"He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:30

Thursday, May 10, 2012


There are messages in my inbox that are plagued by a specific kind of writer's block.  Those emails that I put off writing because I want to so desperately to say the perfect thing. 

Sometimes it's because I was the recipient of an epic update, or a heartfelt message, and I want my reply to do it justice.  I want to give a meaningful response, or share something semi-epic of my own.  But at the moment my brain can only handle "Hi! I exist." So I put it off.  Sometimes it's because I have something I really want to say, but I just can't figure out how to do it.  And it doesn't have to be something complicated.  It's amazing how hard it is to say simple things too.

Then it happens.  If my writer's block delays me long enough for a few other messages to come in, the email I really want to reply to is pushed down the line and disappears behind my preview pane.  From there it's out of sight, out of mind.  It could be days, or weeks, or months, before I stumble upon it again and think "Oh my goodness!  Did I really not reply to that?  I thought I had.  How did I miss it?!"

I could easily lose count if I tried to tally how many times this happens in my life.  Please tell me I'm not alone in this battle. (I'm pretty sure I'm not.)

The thing is, my friends don't care if I say the perfect thing. I don't care if my friends say the perfect thing. Letters don't have to be epic. In fact, simple messages are fantastic. I'm completely happy to receive, "Hi! I exist!" messages from my friends. All this pressure is self-induced.

And then it struck me that I also do that in my prayer life. 
How many times have I delayed talking to God (really talking to him) because all the other noise in my inbox drives his message down below my proverbial preview pane?  I want to say the perfect thing or impress him with an epic update.  Or I can't figure out exactly how to casually say the simple thing.  So I put it off.  Not that I'm not aware that his presence is there, or that his message is there.  But I let writer's block cripple the conversation.

But just when I was gearing up for a self-induced guilt trip, I was also struck by the reassuring thought that even if it takes days, or weeks, or months to get back to it...The simple, glorious truth is that God probably gets just as excited about my simple prayers as I do about those genuine messages. (Even the simple, "I exist" ones). 

I don't know if that all came out right.  But there you have it.  I'm challenging myself to guard my prayer life from becoming a cluttered inbox.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Easter Eggs

(A little past the holiday, I know.)

A month before the big day, the church sent out the call:  "We need to fill 10,000 eggs for the Easter Egg Scramble.  Take a bag home with you and fill them with your favorite candy.  Or...with whatever.  Wouldn't be awesome to open an Easter egg and find a big juicy steak? Mmmmm."

Immediately my mind wandered to the logistics--and health concerns--that would make steak a very bad Easter egg filler. (You would need a super sized, refrigerated egg to make it work.)  I understood the point.  We get older and we want different things.  But it's not always a maturity thing. (Yes, eating chocolate all the time would be bad.  It's good to graduate to steak and veggies.)  We get tired of the simple stuff.  We get bored with the blessings that we have, and always seem to want more.  (We also like to make things complicated.)

I pictured God presenting me with an Easter basket.   One of those colorful ones filled with goodies and topped with a bow.  But I saw myself as a teenager, trying to look happy about getting the present but secretly thinking about how cheesy it was, how I was so beyond that now.  "Oh.  Thanks."  And in my mental image God's smile melted into hurt and disappointment. 

Remember what it was like to be ecstatic about finding a little plastic egg filled with a little bit of chocolate?  Remember the simple joy of recognizing a beautiful day?  Receiving a hug?  Hearing your song on the radio?  Of simply being forgiven?

We ended up scattering 14,000 eggs on the church parking lot for the Scramble. (I belong to a giving church family.) You couldn't take a step without hitting one.  They were everywhere.  All filled with tiny little happy thoughts disguised as Hershey Kisses, mini Twix bars, Reese's Cups, and Bubble Gum.

We have eggs scattered all over our days.  If we're willing to look.

Keep it simple.  Enjoy the chocolate.

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. ~ Mark 10:14-15

Friday, April 13, 2012

Donald Trump

I enjoy watching reality/competition shows.  It all started with "The Amazing Race."  When I was house-hunting, my realtor and I became friends after we discovered we had similar educational backgrounds and interests.  (That may be a fib.  I think we became friends about 30 seconds after we initially shook hands.)  Anyway, he got me into watching "The Amazing Race" because he said he enjoyed watching how the teams of people work together, how they communicate, how they deal with stress, etc.  We were soon exchanging emails about the show:  our reactions, teams we liked and didn't, how we thought people had grown and learned (or not).  ...and that's pretty much the lens through which I watch all those shows.  Half interested in the competition at hand, but very interested in the dynamics of the people.

There's one show in particular that I watch, not really for the contestants, but for the judge.  Have you ever seen The Apprentice?  Donald Trump is something else.  Sometimes (many times?) his boardroom decisions seem petty and arbitrary.  There was one episode in this current season when he fired a contestant, not for doing anything wrong, but because he felt they should have been Project Manager.  This opinion wasn't shared by anyone else.  His teammates felt he brought a lot to the challenge, that he performed well and in line with his strengths.  But Mr. Trump clamped down on that one thought and wouldn't let it go.  It was fascinating to watch.  As usual, after the firing his asks his board room helpers if he did the right thing.  And they both said yes and came up with reasons, but I think it was pretty obvious that they were a little confused too.  Stuff like that happens all the time on The Apprentice.

As I was waging war against the bushes outside my house, I found myself mulling over this show.  While Mr. Trump certainly holds contestants accountable if they lose or under perform, his final decisions are all over the place.  And after trying to find sense, I had to simply concede the point.  He's not really choosing the best or the worst, he just wants to make it a good show.  He's creating a dynamic and a storyline.  And in the world of the show, no one else's opinion really matters.  You can make everyone happy.  But if Donald Trump isn't happy (for whatever reason), you're in trouble.  And if he is happy (for whatever reason), you're safe.

Jesus is a little bit like Donald Trump that way.  I can do everything right and make everyone around me happy, but if I miss that one important thing...it doesn't matter.  And on the flip side, everyone around me might be against me and think I've got nothing to offer, but if Jesus is pleased with what I've done...it doesn't matter.  He measures with different perspective, and with a different scale.  He isn't swayed by public opinion.  I certainly don't always understand why he does the things he does, or allows the things he allows.

But one thing I do know:  he's telling a story, and he knows exactly where he's going with it.



I don't know quite how to start this thought.  But since the point of "Five-Minute Fridays" is to write without backtracking or thinking...I suppose that's ok. 

When I read the word for this week, I immediately thought about how my world has been shrinking.  I don't go out as much.  I've lost touch with some people.  I've grown apart from others.  And most suprisingly, I think I've come to realize that that's ok. 

I used to think that having seasonal (or locational) friends was a bad thing. That it showed a lack of intention and sincerity.  And I spent a lot of time reaching out and trying to squeeze myself as deeply as I could into as many different circles as possible.  (Consequently, I would feel more than a little discouraged every time that it didn't work out.) 

Maybe about a year ago, I decided to just stop trying.  I took a deep breath and just said, "Good-bye."  And I've come to discover the beauty of a small world.  Don't get me wrong.  It's a little bittersweet too.  There are people who I think are amazing, but our paths just don't cross that much.  But that's just life, isn't it? 

I've discovered the refreshing breeze that seasonal friendships bring, and the everyday joys of being close to the people what want to be in my world just as much as I want to be in theirs.


Friday, February 3, 2012



Since I am composing this post on my phone, it won't be a long one. But thanks to the wonders of technology and the appropriateness of this Friday's word, I couldn't resist.

I am visiting some dear friends in Jinja, Uganda. Yesterday I had the opportunity to go out to a local village for a bi-weekly Bible study. My missionary friend brought along a Flat Stanley from a little boy in Michigan. We took pictures of him with all the kids who came to church. My traveling giraffe Haji joined in the fun as well. When that little boy gets his Flat Stanley back, I know he'll be super excited to hear all about Africa and the things his friends are doing here. But for me, it wasn't second hand or by proxy. From the red dirt covering my feet to the language barriers bridged by a smile -- for me, it was all very real.


Thursday, February 2, 2012


Because good things bear repeating. The scope of my resources may be different, but this is the kind of human being I hope to be.

I believe in Tim Tebow
By Rick Reilly

I've come to believe in Tim Tebow, but not for what he does on a football field, which is still three parts Dr. Jekyll and two parts Mr. Hyde.

No, I've come to believe in Tim Tebow for what he does off a football field, which is represent the best parts of us, the parts I want to be and so rarely am.

Who among us is this selfless?

Every week, Tebow picks out someone who is suffering, or who is dying, or who is injured, flies them and their families to the Broncos game, rents them a car, puts them up in a nice hotel, buys them dinner (usually at a Dave and Buster's), gets them and their families pregame passes, visits with them just before kickoff (!), gets them 30-yard line tickets down low, visits with them after the game (sometimes for an hour), has them walk him to his car, and sends them off with a basket of gifts.

Home or road, win or lose, hero or goat.

Remember last week, when the world was pulling its hair out in the hour after Tebow had stunned the Pittsburgh Steelers with an 80-yard OT touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas in the playoffs? And Twitter was exploding with 9,420 tweets about Tebow per second? When an ESPN poll was naming him the most popular athlete in America?

Tebow was spending that hour talking to 16-year-old Bailey Knaub about her 73 surgeries so far and what TV shows she likes.

"Here he'd just played the game of his life," recalls Bailey's mother, Kathy, of Loveland, Colo., "and the first thing he does after his press conference is come find Bailey and ask, 'Did you get anything to eat?' He acted like what he'd just done wasn't anything, like it was all about Bailey."

More than that, Tebow kept corralling people into the room for Bailey to meet. Hey, Demaryius, come in here a minute. Hey, Mr. Elway. Hey, Coach Fox.

Even though sometimes-fatal Wegener's granulomatosis has left Bailey with only one lung, the attention took her breath away.

"It was the best day of my life," she emailed. "It was a bright star among very gloomy and difficult days. Tim Tebow gave me the greatest gift I could ever imagine. He gave me the strength for the future. I know now that I can face any obstacle placed in front of me. Tim taught me to never give up because at the end of the day, today might seem bleak but it can't rain forever and tomorrow is a new day, with new promises."

I read that email to Tebow and he was honestly floored.

"Why me? Why should I inspire her?" he said. "I just don't feel, I don't know, adequate. Really, hearing her story inspires me."

It's not just NFL defenses that get Tebowed. It's kids who will die soon. It's adults who can hardly stand. It's high school girls who don't know if they'll ever go to a prom. For the game at Buffalo, it was Charlottesville, Va., blue-chip high school QB Jacob Rainey, who lost his leg after a freak tackle in a scrimmage. Tebow threw three interceptions in that Buffalo game and the Broncos were crushed, 40-14.

"He walked in and took a big sigh and said, 'Well, that didn't go as planned,'" remembers Rainey. "Where I'm from, people wonder how sincere and genuine he is. But I think he's the most genuine person I've ever met."

There's not an ounce of artifice or phoniness or Hollywood in this kid Tebow and I've looked everywhere for it.

Take 9-year-old Zac Taylor, a child who lives in constant pain. Immediately after Tebow shocked the Chicago Bears with a 13-10 comeback win, Tebow spent an hour with Zac and his family. At one point, Zac, who has 10 doctors, asked Tebow if he has a secret prayer for hospital visits. Tebow whispered it in his ear. And since Tebow still needed to be checked out by the Broncos' team doctor, he took Zac in with him, but only after they'd whispered it together.

And it's not always kids. Tom Driscoll, a 55-year-old who is dying of brain cancer at a hospice in Denver, was Tebow's guest for the Cincinnati game. "The doctors took some of my brain," Driscoll says, "so my short-term memory is kind of shot. But that day I'll never forget. Tim is such a good man."

This whole thing makes no football sense, of course. Most NFL players hardly talk to teammates before a game, much less visit with the sick and dying.

Isn't that a huge distraction?

"Just the opposite," Tebow says. "It's by far the best thing I do to get myself ready. Here you are, about to play a game that the world says is the most important thing in the world. Win and they praise you. Lose and they crush you. And here I have a chance to talk to the coolest, most courageous people. It puts it all into perspective. The game doesn't really matter. I mean, I'll give 100 percent of my heart to win it, but in the end, the thing I most want to do is not win championships or make a lot of money, it's to invest in people's lives, to make a difference."

So that's it. I've given up giving up on him. I'm a 100 percent believer. Not in his arm. Not in his skills. I believe in his heart, his there-will-definitely-be-a-pony-under-the-tree optimism, the way his love pours into people, right up to their eyeballs, until they believe they can master the hopeless comeback, too.

Remember the QB who lost his leg, Jacob Rainey? He got his prosthetic leg a few weeks ago and he wants to play high school football next season. Yes, tackle football. He'd be the first to do that on an above-the-knee amputation.

Hmmm. Wonder where he got that crazy idea?

"Tim told me to keep fighting, no matter what," Rainey says. "I am."

This article was emailed to me by a good friend. But you can find it here: http://m.espn.go.com/wireless/story?storyId=7455943

Sunday, January 29, 2012


This is an honest confession from a worship team member.

"Will you be there next Sunday?" asked Cherie. "There are a few songs that have a lot of violin in them. I'll give you a CD so you can hear. But I know you can take it and make it pretty like you always do."

Well, what I always do is try to hide up there on the chancel and just...worship on my violin. Sometimes it doesn't feel like much, but it's what I've been given. I don't usually use music. I just fill in as we go along. It's an offering from my heart, and a way for me to give back to my church family.

Playing what was on that CD certainly fell within my skill level. But for some reason, I found myself being incredibly intimidated. Maybe it's because I *am* a little intimidated by the talent of the other musicians. They're so good at what they do. I'm a renaissance woman musically, but they astound me with the things they do.

So I played my special part, and immediately sought affirmation from Eddie and Cherie. (After the worship team finished and exited to our room where we listen to the sermon.) "Was that ok?" "Did it sound right?" "Were you happy with it?" They quieted my fears, but I still resolved (to myself) to do better during the next service.

And again I played, and it went well, but I still found myself hoping for reassurance...or I'll be honest, for praise.

And then God spoke to me by way of a song. More precisely, by a guitar lick.

I'm not kidding! I was sitting on the couch in our little room, over analyzing how I had just played, and a song intro just popped into my head. It took me a few seconds to remember the first line of the song, but then it came: "For the praises of man, I will never ever stand..."

I sat there, convicted and humbled, and reminded that it doesn't matter. If I played just like a CD, or if I played something beautiful and new, or if I played as well as the incredibly talented musicians there with me, or if my playing impressed someone or made someone happy or anything else. Yes, I need to do my best, and approach every opportunity I have to play with excellence and integrity. But the most important part is having the correct posture of the heart. *Why* am I doing this?

Of course I like to know that I'm being a blessing, and I've been genuinely encouraged by different comments from members of my church family. But once that encouragement becomes something I seek -- a requirement to determine if I played well enough on any given Sunday morning -- my heart has changed.

It can be a fine line, but that morning I crossed to the wrong side. I confess. I let my perfectionism and insecurity get the better of me. I was hoping to get praise instead of giving it. I'm thankful for that still small voice (guitar intro?) for reminding me why I play, and who I'm playing for.

May these words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord. (Psalm 19:14)

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
(Psalm 51:10)

Saturday, January 21, 2012


A package came in the mail for me yesterday. It was a crown (or more properly, a circlet) that I ordered to wear on Saturday to the Renaissance Fair. My sister and I dress up every year, and I finally decided to accessorize my dress with some jewelry.

So I put it on for the first time, and I felt so regal. My sister and I stood side by side and checked ourselves out in the mirror and just couldn't stop smiling. We physically looked the same. Our outfits hadn't changed (I was in my business casual garb, my sister in jeans and a t-shirt)...but our demeanor had. Even now, I'm at work and I'm sitting a little straighter because I have a crown at home. I'm regal even if people here can't see it. Then it struck me... how is today any different from any other day?

As children of God, being adopted into his family....we are royalty. How would your demeanor change if you were wearing a crown? (Wouldn't it be cool if one came down from heaven as soon as you got saved?  All the girls say, "Amen!") The point is, remember who you are. Walk a little straighter. Remember all the resources you have at your disposal (and be a good steward of them).  Remember that even if you can't see it, you have a crown.  But most of all, be aware of the amazing love that wanted you to be part of the family.


A rediscovered thought from my old Xanga blog.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

House Call

"Those who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved." Usually when I've heard this sentence, I've thought about the act of calling out to God. Saying his name or whatever. But it struck me that the phrase "to call" also means to come and visit.

People used to "call" on each other. Young men asked a young woman's father if he could "call" on her. Doctors made house "calls." Thinking of "call" in this way changes the implications. Motivated by either need or desire, someone intentionally sets time aside to spend quality time with someone else. The afternoon visitor wants to simmer in the moment and maybe enjoy a cup of tea over news. The doctor comes to examine and probe, to get to the root of the problem. The hopeful suitor isn't rushed because they want to get to know the other person... because they're falling in love with them.

"Those who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved." Do I spend time with God? Do I let him probe and get to the root of my proplems? Do I try to get to know him? Am I purposeful...and unrushed about it?

Just a thought for today.

A rediscovered thought from my old Xanga blog.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


It's one of the most poignant and heart wrenching scenes of the final Harry Potter book. Harry stands at the edge of the forest, gathering his courage to face his final showdown with Voldemort.

He has known for a while that a lot was going to be asked of him. But now the true enormity of his task stands before him. He believes this meeting will cost him his life. Because now he knows he's more than just "The Boy Who Lived." He knows that he's more than simply "The Chosen One." And knowing the cost, he still chooses to make that walk.

His only request? It's as poignant as the situation itself: "You'll stay with me?" He asks to make that walk with the spirits of Lily, James, Sirius, Lupin...his loved ones...by his side.

[Abraham] said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. (Genesis 22:5-8)

I've always read this story and thought of what it must have cost Abraham. But today, I'm moved by the faith of his son.

After all, the passage portrays a shared faith between Abraham and Isaac. It says "we will worship." Isaac was committed to his relationship to God. Committed enough to travel three days away to worship together with his father. And he must have known it was a significant journey. Abraham knew the whole time. He knew. But Isaac gets to figure it out.

Have you ever had a moment when you realize you're in for more than you thought you originally bargained for? There's nothing quite like that feeling. Your stomach drops. The blood drains from your head. The world zoom in and zooms out at the same time. It's an epiphany of the most unique kind.

There's a choice to make in that moment. Maybe there's a way out. How committed are you? Do you believe in this thing as much as you thought you did? "Is this a hill worth dying on?" my old teacher might ask. Because if it's not, now is the time to bail.

If there's no way out -- if you're in-for-an-inch-in-for-a-mile, there's still a choice to make. Do be dragged along, or to accept the new insight and be driven by it. However scared you may be, do you take that step into the woods with commitment and purpose?

I wonder when Isaac's suspicions started. When he started to realize there was more to this trip than his dad was letting on. I wonder if he knew the answer to his question before he asked.

"Where is the lamb?"
"God himself will provide."

I wonder if it all clicked into place. If his stomach dropped through the ground. If a million thoughts and doubts and and questions and options raced through his mind.

All I know is this:  The two of them went on together. Isaac took one committed step after another. Believing this meeting would cost him his life. But having his father at his side.

"You'll stay with me?"
"I will be with you, even to the end." (Matthew 28:20)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Thanks to the wonders of the internet and the generosity of strangers -- and a whirlwind drive to Williamsburg and back -- I arrived at a friend's house on Sunday evening and gleefully unpacked an addition to my menagerie of musical instruments:  a shiny, new-to-me mandolin.  I picked it up, held it close, and strummed.

Woah!  ...I immediately cringed and stilled the strings.

It was pretty obvious that this little beauty had been waiting for action for some time.  (Translation:  It hadn't been tuned in forever and sounded it horrid.)  So I pulled out my tuner and started tightening.

And tightening and tightening.

The strings weren't hanging loose, but they certainly had a ways to go to be in tune. And for the lower strings, I wasn't too worried.  But as I got to the highest pair, I wasn't feeling very confident.

"Please don't break."  I kept saying out loud.  "Please don't break."

But even though I knew I was asking a lot from these little strings, I kept on tightening.  I was just so excited about playing my new mandolin for the first time.

And sure enough, as I nudged the highest string closer and closer to the right tone, it finally had enough and gave up.

I knew I should have let it rest.  Those high notes require a lot of tension.  And that's a lot of change to ask from a tiny string in one big push.

I knew better.  But I was impatient and tried to do it all at once.

There's a lesson in there somewhere.  About being out of tune and being tightened and needing to rest along the way.  Especially in the "higher things" and in the areas that have been out of action for some time.

Because if I expect immediate perfection and try to go all the way in one go, there's a real risk of ending up broken in the process.  (Not permanently broken. But set back just the same.)

Monday, January 9, 2012

One Little Word: "Fast"

Ever since a friend introduced me to the "One Little Word" challenge, I've found it a simple but powerful way to focus on an aspect of my character I wish to improve upon over the course of a year. 

In 2010, my word was tenacity.  Last year I didn't really choose a word, but over the course of the year one was given to me.  Generosity.  In ways that continually stretched me, I had choices and opportunities to be generous with my time, my space, my finances...with many things.  I'll have to write more about those sometime.  It's amazing, but consciously looking for ways to be generous (and being obedient to that little voice that tells you to give when you don't think you have anything to spare) will reveal just how much you have.

I'll be honest.  Being generous feels great!  And I was beginning to feel a little proud of myself.  But at the end of year when I was looking at my finances, I realized that some of my "generosity" was simply mislabeled obedience.  (After all, supporting my spiritual family by tithing isn't generosity.  It's what I do with the 90% that matters.)  I also realized that for as "generous" as I was, I was also pretty selfish too.  When I sat there and looked at how much money I spent on frivolous things -- on movies, on amazon.com impulse buys, on eating out, heck, just on fountain sodas -- I was disappointed in myself.

More than that, I was convicted.  This year, my word is fast.

Part of it will be fasting food.  (That's a spiritual discipline I haven't practiced in some time.)  But I want it to be more than about food.  I want to consciously forgo some of my selfish indulgences and refocus those resources to holy purposes -- to praying, to serving, to giving, to being Jesus with skin on.

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  ~ Isaiah 58:6

I love this verse for the opening phrase:  Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen?  Because fasting should be a conscious choice.  It's about focus.  About letting a feeling of lack drive an awareness.

And I plan to rock my singleness for all it's worth. After all, I am the sole custodian of my resources. Every time I forgo an meal, or step out of the movie line, or hit "delete" in my shopping cart...every time I commit to spend less here to leave extra room on the plate there, I'm only inconveniencing myself.

But I do *not* plan to be gloomy this year (Matthew 6:16-18). In fact, quite the opposite.  I want to continue in my rediscovered joy of generosity.  No one needs to know the details.  But I do feel that by putting it out there as my One Little Word, I'm giving life to this commitment.

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the LORD your God. ~ Leviticus 23:22

After taking a moment to assess, I realized how big my field is. How much good those edges could do. And how effective I am at harvesting every little bit to support my wants and needs. I'm so blessed. And I can honestly say I was generous last year. I truly was.

But last year, I found the edges of my field on accident.  This year, I want to leave them on purpose.

This year, I'm fasting.
This year, my life will be a little bit less about me.
And maybe this year, by being a little less, I can also be a lot more.

A quick shout-out to Marie (I'll be cheering you on!) and to Katie (I know you don't participate in one little word, but your blogging consistency is an inspiration in itself).

Friday, January 6, 2012



“Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow. ” ― Mary Anne Radmacher

I feel like this has been my life for the past few months. With the various changes and pressures swirling around my world, the best I've been able to do is to just try again tomorrow.

Even though I'm loathe to admit it, holidays make me feel lonely. I want to courageously walk out my singleness and remember that my life is filled with a great cast of characters. But when families hunker down and share all those special moments that families have, it's a reminder that I'm not on the same path. But that also reminds me that whenever I'm feeling down, it's usually because I'm focusing on me. But as Max Lucado would remind me, it's not about me. So the little voice in my heart says, "It's ok. You had a down day. But try again tomorrow."

The end of the year puts me in a self-analyzing mode. And I'm nothing but a perfectionist and overachiever. I made some stumbles this year, and I can start feeling very guilty about my fallibility. Truth be told, those critical thoughts roar in my ears sometimes. But then the little voice in my heart says, "It's ok. His grace is sufficient. Try again tomorrow."

Over Thanksgiving, we relocated my grandparents to Maryland to live with my parents. It's a huge thing, and I've found myself in an interesting place as an adult child -- seeing just how much my parents are stressed out, and wanting to do as much as I can (stealthily or overtly) to support them. I would be lying if I said it wasn't exhausting. But every day the little voice in my heart says, "You can do it. Try again tomorrow."

Which brings to mind the Tough Mudder -- this crazy 11-mile race I'm running later this spring. I'm intimidated, and I have to fight for every fitness victory. And when I have to bail out because I just can't complete what I wish I could, the little voice in my heart says, "That's ok. Try again tomorrow."

During my training runs I just keep telling myself, "One more minute. You can do anything for just one minute." And 50 minutes later, I've gone over four miles. And that's the secret, right? To just focus on the step coming next and remember I can do anything for one minute.

I can be joyful in the presence of my stresses for one minute.
I can make good choices with my actions for one minute.
I can take my mind off the hypothetical and celebrate my beautiful reality for one minute.

And when I can't. I can remember courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is just that little voice that says I'll try again tomorrow.