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Without knowing everything

There are times when very few things seem clear in our lives.  I find myself in one of those times when I don’t even know what to pray for, let alone what to do about many things.  I suspect, though, that when we get to that point, that’s exactly where God can do the most in our lives.  When we don’t even know what to pray for, all we can pray is that His will may be done in our lives, and that we may have the courage to do it.

“Without knowing everything, we can know the truth.”  – David F. Evans

It has to be this way right now.

The past few weeks have been kind of tough.  It’s been a humbling time where I wish I could speed some things up or change other things entirely.

I’ve spent a lot of quiet time thinking, watching the snow fall and blanket the trees.  I’ve switched from my hurried pace and transformed into very slow, very quiet, very deliberate days.  My to-do lists have become very very short.  One thing that seems to make the cut each day is some time spent facing myself, rather than running from my thoughts.  In doing so, I think I’ve finally gotten the answer that’s been trying to come through for months:

“It just has to be this way right now.”

I’ve gotten that answer twice before.

The first time, it was after months of effort and preparation without a very great outcome, or at least what seemed like it at the time.  I was exhausted, sad, and defeated.  I can remember months of begging friends and strangers to come and help me out for just an hour, but for many (not all, bless their hearts), it was too much to ask.  For some, it was busy soccer schedules, for some, it was my high intensity that I’ve never quite learned to temper, for some, it was fear, but at that time, I hadn’t yet learned to love and face all of those things in us as humans.  At that time, I felt nothing but heartbreak, defeat, and exhaustion.  I can remember lying there, tears creeping out of my eyes as much for myself as they were in love and sorrow for the women in Congo I was trying to help.  I prayed there on my mat before ending the event I was leading, and the answer came quietly, “It has to be this way right now.”  It ended up being a turning point in my life that enabled me to do things based solely on my heart and soul, and regardless of what others thought.  What a gift that pain ended up being.

The second time, I was in labor in our car.  It was the last time I ever would be.  I remember it was night time.  I was tired.  It had been such a long pregnancy.  The little life in me felt so bright and important.  It was very late.  I can still remember in a muted way the lights in the darkness and the quiet sounds of the road, the feel of the blankets underneath and around me.  The upcoming delivery was so hard and the following months were some of the hardest I had ever known.  But in the car, when I could see the lights of the hospital in the distance, I can remember praying, and hearing those same words. “It has to be this way right now.”  Everything that has happened since then has so dramatically altered my life that I wouldn’t have it any other way, even though it has meant dreams left behind.  Those dreams placed on the altar have given me more of myself to find.

So I don’t know what this answer means right now.  But I know that right now, in these snowy woods, I am being blessed once again as things may not be happening the way I had planned or hoped.  But I know that it has to be this way right now.

Hope is a thing with wings

I keep looking at a picture on my phone this week.  All week, I keep turning back to it.  I took it months ago.

It’s a picture of a little girl, born in Congo, now American.  I went to her home months ago to talk to her mother.  When she saw my camera, she asked me to take her picture, and then she took mine.  She was so happy and so hopeful.

This week, I feel like I can understand why other people give up, and sometimes I think maybe I should be like other people.  It might be easier and I think it might make things a lot less painful.

I sat on my bed today, looking at this little Love again, trying my darndest to just give up, but it’s just not something I can do.  Hope lives in us and we have to let it.  We have to keep moving, however slowly, however small, and keep hoping.

My daughter left a quote on my bed tonight next to her latest Bob Ross creation:

“We put some dark in, only so our light will show.  You have to have dark in order to show light.”

-Bob Ross

That flame of hope can stay alive with the smallest flame, and the smallest flame can cancel out the darkest dark.

So keep hoping.

Little do we know

This morning, I woke early to a little body crawling into bed with me.  Excited and happy, our baby is six years old today.

She fell back asleep next to me, and as I held her hand and listened to her soft breathing, I thought about her little life.

Little did I know when I found out I was pregnant that it would be the most difficult pregnancy of my life.  Little did I know how much help I would need.  Little did I know how much that help would bless my life.

Little did I know that after that very difficult delivery there was an excruciating hospital stay ahead.  But little did I know how much help and light would come.  Little did I know that she would grow to be lively, healthy, and the light of our home.

Little do we know what the future holds.  The fear of what is coming can be paralyzing.  But little do we know the coming blessings.

I’ve felt somber lately, like things are coming maybe I’d rather not do.  But this little one reminded me this morning that help comes as much as trial, often more.  So I’m off to make birthday cake and start a new year.

Christmas night

This is the first Christmas that I haven’t been left with the feeling that a little something was missing.

Perhaps it was because I arrived at Christmas lacking so much. I don’t know. Somehow I’ve been changed this year.

Oh, how I lack. Oh, how He can change us!

“Although my memory’s fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior!”

– John Newton

Tonight, after I tucked six little angels in to bed, I came down and unplugged our Charlie Brown tree. As I tiptoed around wrapping paper scraps and games, my heart just whispered thank you.


December, above all months, is the sweetest and the most difficult of all.  I think we seek answers more earnestly, we yearn for promised light and peace.  Advent, after all, means “coming.”  We’re all expecting, awaiting.

I am a bit of a fighter.  I don’t always do well with sitting quietly.  I have battled and battled lately to move forward, and in doing so, have felt further back than I have in years.  It has broken my heart.

There is an advent calendar on our wall.  My mom made one like it when we were young.  I made ours years ago, when the kids were so small.  Every year it comes out, marking our journey to Christmas.  The sweet thing about it is the tiny, felt baby Jesus hiding inside of Mary’s felt tummy.  He comes out on Christmas morning to lie in the manger, and we’ve arrived at Christmas.

The other morning, at breakfast, my daughter looked up and noticed that the little baby was peeking out.  “I think the baby is trying to come out early!” she laughed.  I was quiet, but my girls started talking about what would have happened if the baby had been born early, before they got to Bethlehem, before they arrived at that horrible, holy little stable.

What if He had come earlier?  People had prayed for the Messiah for millennia.  How many times must they all have wondered why He was waiting?  What if He had come later, back home…no stable needed?  It’s impossible to even consider…He was meant to come just that night, and everything before and since is made right because the timing was just as it should have been.

In our lives, I think that we forget.  We forget that timing is divine and that it is right.  I am learning this Christmas that progress isn’t always pushing and pushing until a way appears.  Sometimes, it is waiting.  Waiting quietly until it is time for the next answer to come.

Doing the little things, the small things each day that make all the difference.

Because, after all, the small things are the big things.


You are what matters


You are the difference. You are what matters. They need you.

You are what gives them eyes to see. You are the voice they hear in their minds when they are seeking approval.

You are what they need.  No accomplishment, no activity, no team, no achievement will fill it.  Nothing, nothing, will fill that space but God. But God put you in it.

The girls have been sick for days. We all have. This evening, Matt took us all on a drive through the mountain and snow. Some air and light. We listened to The Christmas Carol. Scrooge’s chilly voice and snow draped trees surrounded us. We were coughing, we were in pajamas. But we were together. It was enough. It was us.

And I hope forever, it will be us.


“You can’t separate Bethlehem from Gethsemane or the hasty flight into Egypt from the slow journey to the summit of Calvary. It’s of one piece. It is a single plan. It considers ‘the fall and rising again of many in Israel,’ but always in that order.”

“Christmas is joyful not because it is a season or decade or lifetime without pain and privation, but precisely because life does hold those moments for us. And that baby, […the] Only Begotten Son in the flesh, born ‘away in a manger, [with] no crib for his bed,’ makes all the difference in the world, all the difference in time and eternity, all the difference everywhere, worlds without number, a lot farther than your eye can see.”

“Perhaps the joy [my parents] felt that day at my birth was to be inextricably, inseparably, eternally linked with my sorrow at their passing—that we could never expect to have the one without the other.”

“In this life no one can have real love without eventually dealing with real loss, and we certainly can’t rejoice over one’s birth and the joy of living unless we are prepared to understand and accommodate and accept with some grace the inevitability—including the untimeliness—of difficulty and trouble and death. These are God’s gifts to us—birth and life and death and salvation, the whole divine experience in all its richness and complexity.”

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). True fathers and mothers were all alike, I realized; coming up with the best gifts imaginable at what is often terrible personal cost—and I am obviously not speaking of material gifts or monetary costs.”

“I got a little refresher course in the plan of salvation and a powerful reminder of why this is “the season to be jolly,” and why any Christmas is a time of comfort, whatever our circumstances may be. In the same breath I was also reminded that life will not always be as cozy as “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” or an unending splendor while we stroll, “walking in a winter wonderland.” No, life will have its valleys and peaks, its moments for the fall and rising in the lives of all of God’s children. So now it is old Simeon’s joyful embrace of that little baby just before his own death that is one of the images I try to remember at Christmas.”

– Jeffrey R. Holland


When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

– Wendell Berry


The snow is coming down now, in earnest this time. I’m so grateful that it’s here, but the cold snowy season always seems to bring such sorrow in the world, as well.

I think that, in the snowy seasons, it’s good to look around for the evidence of blessings…the reminders that the way has been softened and made light, and that we are being watched over.

I’ll still kayak the rivers this winter, but I think my lake time is up. Sitting on the edge of the water recently, looking at the stickers on my boat, made me smile. It was a good summer. A long, hard summer filled with so many challenges…but so many blessings, too. The reminder has made me ready for winter.

So much ugliness, so much sorrow seems to flow over the earth right now. I feel like peace is gone. It’s time to look around, find the light, find the evidence of good, and shine it forth.


I am at a point in my journey through life that I can see that all of it, everything, has led to what I am doing and who I am right now.

I remember a point in my life when I was living in a place where I was so different from everyone around me. I was in completely different circumstances and I was embarrassed all the time.  I was so uncomfortable in my own skin. I couldn’t bear the feeling. I remember praying one night, pleading that I would be blessed with confidence and courage.

Well, He didn’t give me confidence. He gave me a heart willing to follow, and the journey of my live truly began.  As I have followed Him, I have come to understand who I am in His eyes. I am His daughter, and I can do anything He guides me to do.  I don’t have to prove myself to anyone.

The confidence and courage have come in amounts I never dreamed, and have led to a life I never could have imagined. All that once mattered has fallen away, and the light of who I truly am is shining brighter.


First snow and miles to go

Our first snow came this week.  It’s been lovely.

I think that living here year-round has taught me so many things, but the most important is that I can choose joy no matter the weather.

Some are happy about the snow.  Some are not.  Some wish it would stay, some wish it away.  The truth of the matter is that all of these things will happen in time, and if we spend all of our time while we have snow wishing it would shine, and all of our time while it shines wishing for snow, the sad truth is that we will never be tremendously happy.

Usually in life, we are waiting, even longing, for something.  But I think that, if we can keep living while looking ahead, we can be happy.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

-Robert Frost

Love is deep as the road is long

I haven’t written in such a long time, but I keep feeling called back.

This has been the year.  Everything has led to this time.

I could never have imagined how the wait with adoption would feel.  I could never have imagined how I would change, how I would learn, and what faith would mean now.

Trials have been greater, but inspiration is coming more clearly, quickly, and in focus.

The things that matter are more prominent, and those that don’t are falling away.

I can feel this little spirit who wants to be found.  I know it will happen.  I know it.



“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke


It’s strange to think that I was once rather frightened of water.


The past few years have led me to seek it out.


I’ve fallen in love with the flow and the pattern of the water.


It doesn’t fight the path set out for it.


But as it follows the path, it gently but drastically changes the world.


“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.”
– Alan Watts


It’s okay to be happy now.

This winter was long. It has been cold and deep, and for some reason, it seems to have held on tighter than some. I think when you’re waiting for completeness, the wait can seem colder and longer. It’s tempting to feel that you will never be happy until you arrive at that place.

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I’ve learned, though, that the real secret to life is to find a way to be happy now.

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Over the past few weeks, the girls and I have gotten out into Yellowstone again.

We’ve watched Old Faithful in a blizzard and set up our little camp stove in snowstorms.

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The colder it is, the more hot chocolate we make, and somehow, we are almost as happy as if the sun were shining.

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Things don’t have to be perfect or even close to finished. But it’s okay to be happy now.

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The sun is starting to shine this week and I think the snow may be almost behind us. The bikes have come out and many, many campfires are before us. But I am so grateful we smiled in the blizzards, too.

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Spring snow

Spring snow is something that always comes, yet always surprises, somehow.  After a long winter, once things have begun to melt, it seems that the time for snow is done for a while.  It always comes in earnest, though, surprising us with white mornings and deeper mud than the day before.  It can seem like a step backward.

I try to enjoy the weather we have while we’re having it, so today I visited the river.  The water was so silent, all I could hear was the bow breaking the water and little splashes of snowflakes on the surface.

Tonight I went out into the dark and the snow.  It was so still, it was as though I could hear every single flake land on each individual pine needle.  All of those snowflakes, all of those branches.  An uncountable number, yet all falling to just the branch they were meant to.  I could feel that God knew all of them.

As He knows me.





This weekend has brought back some strong memories.

This weekend three years ago left me completely devastated.  I had asked for a mountain to climb, and I’d been given one.  After the initial shock wore off, I found myself oscillating between amazement that I’d been given such an experience and total sorrow.  I did everything that year.  I wept and I laughed.  I feared and I trusted.  I ran away and I came home to stay.

The following three years, and every one that will come after, have been and will be shaped by that one experience and my choices afterward.

Now, three years later, I am amazed at where I am and what the Lord has given me.  In the past years, I have learned to want what He wants, to trust Him and to let go of the rest (even when it hurts).  I need to be writing these things again.  I find that often, when an experience is so personal, I sometimes stop writing on my blog for a while, because everything is just too close.  But I keep feeling prompted to write more, so that I can remember, and my children can remember.

So here we go.  Our newest journey is this: we’re adopting.  I can’t believe I haven’t written about it here yet. So much has happened these past months to change our family and to draw us closer than we’ve ever been.

I’m surprised by joy that this is our path.   I’m also floored by the ache and the sorrow of it all sometimes.  We’ve been going through everything that adoption entails for about ten months now, and we’re still searching and will continue to.  It’s hard to imagine that for many people, this difficult journey lasts for years.  It is the most humbling, challenging experience at times.  There are few journeys I have been on that have caused more fear, worry, and sadness.  But I know that it is also a journey that, in time, will lead to the greatest joy I’ve ever known.

A friend asked me the other day if I could change all of this and just get pregnant again, would I do it. My answer surprised me. I wouldn’t. Even right now, little one, when I ache for you and worry about where you are, and when I haven’t even held you yet. Because I know that I will give you everything I have and everything I am, but that there are parts of you that I cannot give you. Those things will come from your mom and they will be a part of who you are. I would never change those things about you, Love. I will cherish them.

I would never change my own journey, either, even remembering the pain I went through.  I used to beg for it to be reversed.  But if it had been, I would never know the depth of Christ’s love that I now know.  I wouldn’t trade anything.  Deeper pain leads to greater joy.

In the meantime, I will wait and hope and pray with all my heart. Though this journey is hard, I will gladly travel it to get to you.

So, sweet reader, if you know of anyone who is looking, please, oh please, send them our way.


I got up before everyone else the other day.  I got breakfast ready early and started to prepare.

Matt drove me to the woods near the river and backed up into five feet of snow.  I crawled out onto the bank and put on my snowshoes.  I pulled the kayak out of the back and pulled it behind me through the trees and snow until I reached the river.

I took off my snowshoes and strapped them into the back of the kayak.  I lowered it down into the water, then jumped in after it.

As soon as the water began to carry me away and the free air hit my face, I was home.  All was silent except my paddles in the water and the moose running ahead of me.  It was cold and perfect.

I floated down for a while and then turned to paddle back upstream.  Though the river was calm, it was a good deal of work since I’m out of practice.  My arms burned and my breathing was quicker.  When I finally arrived back to where I put in, the bank was too high to lift the kayak out, so I paddled around until I found a lower spot.  I got out in the mud and snow and lifted my kayak out of the river.  I climbed up the snow bank after it and put my snowshoes back on.

It was perfect.  I was happy every second.

It struck me…the whole morning was a journey.  It was a lot more difficult than simply waking up and dumping my kayak in the river.  Every step and every moment was something I really had to work for.  But I was overjoyed to do it, because I so badly wanted to be out there.

On how many journeys in life do I find myself smiling while paddling upstream or trudging through the snow?  Probably not too many.  :)  I’ve been on a journey this winter that has required a great deal of my faith, diligence, and choice.  I don’t think I’ve smiled about it too often.  But as I look back at this weekend’s journey through the water, I am reminded that journeys are worth the work, and hopefully I will start to smile more as I keep walking toward my life’s river.


Well, for all our waiting, December pummeled us with snow. Snow and cold and sorrow and joy.

I’ve been a little lost in it all. The month started with an absolutely exhausting and heart rending visit to the refugee center. I’m forever changed, again and again, by courageous people and my need to do better.


The month also brought the most sacred sorrow. I found myself in the ICU with a little boy I dearly loved, holding his hand and thanking him for how he’s changed my life. His funeral was the day before Christmas Eve.

In between, there have been other storms intermingled with the snow blowing outside. There is no way to say how much Christmas meant to me this year. It was such a sad and beautiful Christmas. I love my little life, and I’m so grateful for my little family. I don’t know how to say it eloquently, but I just do.

Divine delays

Our snow waited to really fall this year. We kept thinking it would come, that we’d have an early, hard winter. (Up here, that’s a good thing.)


But it just kept waiting.  Temperatures stayed warm and rain came, but any real snow was delayed.


When you’re waiting for something, something good, it’s hard to feel complete without it.  Part of you is missing, and if you let it, hope starts to drain away.  It’s easy to become consumed by what’s not there, instead of what is.

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But sometimes, heaven is found in the waiting.  Sometimes, delays are divine.

For in every delay, there is a purpose.

Finally, our snow has come in force, and we are getting blanketed in love from Heaven.

There are other delays, though, and they make my heart ache with a yearning to be done with this soul-stretching time.

But I’ve found that Christ is not in the destination nearly as much as He is along the path.  Joy is found right now, not in completion and settledness.  It is found in moments.

Small, fleeting moments of joy.  And the more I thank Heaven for them, the more moments I find.

I know that eventually, the snow does come.  Eventually, all is made right.  But until then, deep breaths, hope in spite of all else, courage, and a thankful heart.



Lately, when I would expect to find myself depleted, I find myself strengthened.


More and more, my life is a lesson in essentialism.


I can see more clearly each day which things in my life are essential, and which are not.  And those that are not are simply falling away as I press forward.


That is the only way that I have found to accomplish all that I must.  Some things simply have to go.  Some things just do not matter as much as others.  Some voices simply have to be hushed.


I used to think that there was no way to accomplish everything.  Now I see that “everything” means something different than it once did.


I am not worthy of the gifts of my life.  I am starkly aware of that lately.  I believe that is the next step in my life, to let not only activity fall away, but parts of myself that are frankly unworthy of the light I feel called toward.

Pathless Woods

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“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore…”
– Byron


I am so grateful for a life in which I feel called to act, to go, to move, to be, to rest, to listen.

I’m grateful for the road less travelled. I’m grateful for pathless woods that only One knows the way through, and that I am allowed the blessed privilege to travel.

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Secret Hiding Places


I’ve been in a hard place all week.


It seems like everything is about to change, and yet nothing is changing.


It’s always hard to both wait and progress, all at the same time.


Some days I am thankful for secret hiding places in the woods.


Here, everything is still, yet everything is changing.


Much like me.


Faith is a constant decision.


It cannot be based on how quickly things happen or when.


It’s all about finding the balance between never accepting mediocrity while being at peace with the Lord’s timing.


I can’t think of a better place to learn that than in my home in the woods.


Everyone should have a safe retreat, a place to go and choose faith again and again.


A place where wild things are allowed to grow and be.

Accepting Defeat

This summer we were considerably behind in our mountain adventures.

One mountaintop we’ve all yearned to return to was the one we’d climbed first, Mt. Washburn.


We’ve tried several times this summer, but have been turned back by blizzards, broken cars, and other trivial things. :)

This was our last shot before winter and we really wanted to do it.


Our favorite trail was closed, so we approached the peak from the other side.  Our hike started pleasantly enough, though cold and windy.


As we climbed, though, the wind became increasingly dangerous.  The snow and ice on the trail gradually became more pronounced until it was about knee deep for the kids in some places.


We came out from a switchback into an very exposed section.  The snow was deep and the wind was stronger than any I have  ever felt.  We were only a quarter mile from the summit.  We could see it in front of us, so close we could nearly touch it.

I made the kids sit down, pressed against the rocks for a moment.  We’d already climbed three miles and nearly 1500 feet in elevation.  We were so close.  But I closed my eyes to block the view of what I wanted, in order to hear the voice that I needed to hear, the one that was not my own.

It was just unsafe and frankly stupid to push forward at the edge of a mountain in that wind.  We turned back.  We were quiet.  After getting so close, we all felt defeat.


But as we came down, I watched my girls.  They had paired up and were holding hands for strength against the wind.  Whether we succeed or fail isn’t always the important thing.


Sometimes, it’s how we accept the defeats that come that matters.  We accepted it together, hand in hand.  We moved down to safety and made a snowman.

I pondered on the way down.  Our life is different than most.  But anyone who thinks that God has only one way to give us the experience we need, to become who we need to become, frankly does not know Him at all.


Feeling grateful for the way He teaches me.