Slowing down

The pace of our life has been changing over these last few months.

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It is easy for me to get down on myself when I’m not accomplishing all that I feel I should be.

This is when I’m grateful for being outside.

The simpleness of the sharper air, the crisp bite of pine…these serve as simple reminders to focus on the most important things and let the rest go for now.

No amount of rush and accomplishment will replace the quiet in our woods and our home right now, and who we are becoming in them.


It’s taken me a long time, but I am so glad that I’ve finally learned the secret to being happy in life.


It’s to be grateful for each season in its time.


There is always something different to look forward to, to wish for, to hope for.


Always some change we wish would come.


Always a past we yearn to visit once more.


Being grateful in the moment is where the joy is found.


Though life is in a great state of flux right now, I find myself relatively quiet.


Deep contentment is settling on me, as I see that all of the paths that were unsure have led to this very sure moment.


Autumn is always a time of change for me, and this year is no different.


The weather seems to remind me constantly of this.


One day there is rain.


The next, snow.


The next, golden sunshine.


“The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives, but everything to do with the focus of our lives.”

-Russell M. Nelson



First snow

And just like that, life changes.


It’s snowed here all day.


We have plenty of autumn left, but it will blend so gently with winter from here on out.


This marks the beginning of the quiet.

The snow falling outside of my window naturally slows my heart.


This is beginning of the season of light and warmth.

I love our life, our traditions.


Like Santa leaving new slippers on the day of the first snow.


Like warm fires and cocoa and blankets and movies.

Somehow, the snow tucks us in and makes us safe.  I feel a peace today that I have been seeking for days.

I’m ready for the change.  Different seasons help different parts of us grow.  They each seem to come just at the right time.





Summer has gone, and I’ve not even written.



This summer has been an intense spiritual experience full of more love, friendship, faith, and choice than I have ever known.



It’s been a summer spent in the water.



Interestingly, I’ve always been afraid of water until now.



This summer, I’ve found answers, light, and peace, while facing some of my deepest fears, which have had nothing to do with water at all.



I keep thinking of Peter, when we was told to “launch out into the deep” and let down his nets.  (Luke 5:4)



I committed to myself that I would do that, some time ago… And I have.



What I’ve found in the deep has been more incredible than anything I could have imagined.



Without the water, there is no life.



I know I’m not being too specific, though I hope soon to be.



I can feel Heaven smiling down, saying, “I told you there was more to the story.”



I’m so grateful for the courage to wade in.




I’ve learned more about faith and miracles lately than ever before in my life.


I think about Peter so often these days, from the Bible.  He wanted to be with Christ so badly.  Sometimes he was afraid of the process or the price.  But there was never a reason to fear…for Christ was right there with him.

I look back on the past two years and see how I’ve run away and come back home.  The horizons of my hopes were pushed back, so far I could not see them.  Storms have shown me His perfect mastery and brought me home, to a better home than I could have imagined.

Only now am I truly beginning to see.


Grief and Joy


Of all the things my many Congolese friends have taught me (and there are many), one of the greatest is the blessing of mourning with those that mourn. They’ve taught me why, and how.


I’ve learned from people who have lost absolutely everything that there really is nothing you can say.  And that’s okay.


Being there is what counts.

Why do we so often hide our grief?  A brave face may be one of our biggest downfalls as a western society.  Grief and joy are intertwined.  By sharing them both, we rise again together.

Wild wind

With the coming of spring, and then summer, the wind changes.

I can always feel it, usually on a certain day.

The wind is no longer bitter, driving me inward, but wild, calling me out.

This time of year, I cannot keep my feet from searching, and the warm wind calls my heart and reminds me that there is so much to do.  So much.

Rivers to swim.  Mountains to climb.


It’s spring.  We’ve still got plenty of snow, but the air is warmer and the snow is melting a little more each day.  Our roads are a mix of lots of mud and lots of ice.

Though I always mourn the passing of winter, the loss of quiet in our little mountain, I cannot help but feel the thrill of an earth returning to life.

The small patches of earth that are showing through are wild with the smell of possibility.

The sun shines longer and more insistently, telling me each day to be brave and get ready for new mountains.

The cranes have returned and their wild call echoes through the pines.

Water rushes in the rivers as the melt is progressing.  Soon the park roads will open again and we’ll see the waterfalls bursting their borders.

My own heart is beating with more courage and new determination, to overcome all that I once was and to become a new and reborn person.

I always see my children differently this time of year.  Their little hearts quicken, as well, and new purpose comes into their eyes.  Our winter has hardly been a sedate one, but somehow, spring asks more of us.

What a miracle it is to have daughters.

Our oldest is nearly 13.  It’s almost like having a new baby again.  I find myself wanting to watch her all the time, because she seems to grow and change with each passing day, even minute.  I am so proud as I see her try new things, but I love the moments when we are all tucked safely in together at night.

“Spring work is going on with joyful enthusiasm.” – John Muir



Today has been a sober day.

It’s my little girl’s birthday. She’s six. It was a wonderful day…absolutely perfect.  She was so happy, so full of life.


At the same time we were celebrating, our good friends were saying goodbye to their six-year-old son. His battle with cancer came to an end tonight.


The stark difference shocked me and has made my heart ache.

Tonight, as my daughter was praying, she enthusiastically prayed for help to carefully get the crystals out in her new crystal mining kit she’d gotten for her birthday from her grandparents.  It was such a sweet and pure prayer.

In that moment, I knew, I absolutely knew that her Father heard her prayer.

The same God who had His arms wrapped around my aching friends had His arms wrapped around my innocent and carefree child.  He is simply there.

I don’t have a lot of words tonight.  I just wanted to say these things, and remember that moment.  I wanted to remember my God, my kind Father, who is always there.  He is there when we are happy.  He is there when we are sad.  Somehow, He is always, always there.  I just want to say tonight that I absolutely know that.

“Innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.” – Moses 1:35




The other week, I posted a picture on instagram:


It was a picture the girls had taken while they were out trying to discover what animal some tracks in our yard belonged to.  It’s bothered me ever since.

The picture + the caption made it seem like we had had the most perfect, ethereal day tromping through the woods and learning constantly.

The truth was something different.  We had been having a terrible day.  We were all grumpy, the house was a mess, and I was overwhelmed by inadequacy.

So, we decided to start over.  We knew we needed light and air.  We put on our snow clothes and went outside, leaving the mess behind.

That is how it became a perfect day.  Choosing to start again and discover what we could become next.

The winter is waning.  Our spring is coming early.

The light is growing each day and the snow is beginning to melt.

We are sad at the quiet of winter passing.  But it reminds us that life is so fast, so fleeting.

There is no time to waste on being less than we could be.

I am nowhere near the person I want so badly to become.

But I am better today than I was yesterday, and if I keep moving, I know I’ll catch glimpses of her every once in a while.


Pure souls

We are blessed to know so few truly pure souls in our lives, but when we meet one, we know it instantly, don’t we?

We have an angel on earth in our home.  She has changed us all and taught us gently for eight years.  Her little heart is so pure that her face radiates light.  There is no mistaking it.  For me, it is not possible to look into her eyes and not want to be better.

It is she who taught me that life is more precious than we understand and that we have so much to do.  She was the hand of heaven reaching down to lift me to something higher.

This weekend, she did the same thing again.  She was baptized, and after all of the work and preparation and planning, in the end, I was an awed bystander at the light beaming forth.  This little soul who talks to birds and calls them to her, this little spirit allowed to be with us, changed us all this week.

She audibly gasped as she came out of the water.  It was like witnessing the birth of a nearly perfect being.  I didn’t think she could become more special than she already was, but somehow, in her light, I am changed again.  I don’t deserve her…what a perfect example of mercy.

Life is so short.  There is so much to do.  She has taught me that there is power and help to do it.  She has taught me that heaven is so close we can touch it, and that those who seek will indeed find.

The real work

Christmas has come, and is gone.

All of its light filled me and spilled over.

It was the sweetest Christmas we have ever had.

Christmas may be gone, but now the real work of Christmas begins.

I feel lit inside like never before.  I feel certain, for the first time in my life, that I am finally doing what I absolutely am meant to do.  It is at once a deep thrill and a peace that passeth understanding.


Christmas is just days away.

The snow has fallen and fallen, blanketing our woods in feet of snow.

Magic and light live in our trees.

It’s Christmas in our cabin.

My heart aches with the blessed emptiness it has been given this time of year…that cavity carved out by sorrow that has become a receptacle of light and the love of my Savior that only deep sorrow allows us to find.

I thought that once I visited the refugee center with the girls, I would feel more at ease in my heart.  I thought that I would rest more, knowing I had done all that I could.

Instead, I found I’ve only just begun.  A new chapter of my life is starting and I am filled with the knowledge that my purpose is becoming more clear each day.  As I walk towards the light, letting the scales of my own will fall away, I find that I am becoming lighter.  I am no longer walking.  I am running.

I’m taking this Christmas time with my family, celebrating the child that delivered me.  But after that brief rest, I am coming back, stronger than before, and I will never stop moving.

Light over darkness

I’ve been trying for a couple of days to find the words for our visit to the refugee center.

I wish I could have taken each one of my friends (the ones who are are so afraid or angry right now) with us. This isn’t the first time I’ve visited a refugee center. I’ve met lots of refugees. But this is the first time I’ve visited them when they are being made to feel so unwelcome in our country. For that reason, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

The girls couldn’t wait to meet people. Though shy, they each had questions that they wanted to ask. Though these pictures are only a small snapshot of our experience that day, and though it is only representative of a tiny handful of refugees served by the CSIRP, I want you to see these people.

My girls made new friends. They met men from Iran who told them of the beautiful mountains of their home. A friend from Iraq had tears in his eyes because children from America wanted to meet him to find out what he was like, instead of listening to what was said on the news. He told them of the two rivers of his country, and about fishing. Friends from Congo told them about cassava and green bananas, carvings in wood, and the good people that filled their country in spite of the extreme violence. They met a whole family born in refugee camps and new friends from Sudan. They learned where Eritrea is. They learned that snow is new to a lot of people. :)

The girls filled that conference room with boxes, boxes of things donated by YOU, our friends. Words can’t express our gratitude. All of your love filled the room and overflowed. I am without expression. (There are some of you I will tell some special stories to.) Tonight, many children will unwrap presents that will be given to them at their first American Christmas party, because of you. Words escape me…you are wonderful people!

These people love America. They love it. They love America more than I do. I have never known what makes people say that they want to come here and change us. They are so thrilled that there is a country like America.

One of my new friends said this: “America is a place to heal and to forget the terrible things in the world. I hope Americans thank God every day for this wonderful country. It is a place of peace. The people have such kind hearts. I can sleep here because I know I am safe. I couldn’t sleep in my country. God blessed me by sending me here, and I love America very much. I think that people are afraid of us only because they are blessed to live in a place where they don’t have to be scared. And it is such a blessing that there is a place where people aren’t afraid. I am so happy for them that they have always lived in this place! I am so happy that, by the grace of God, I live here, now.”

So for all of you who fear our new neighbors so very much, please know this: you are wrong. I’m sorry to put it so bluntly, but you are wrong. And those who are opening your hearts to new friends: you are RIGHT! You are so very right.

For the love of everything, please. Don’t get your information solely from people who want to make you afraid. Don’t get your information solely from people who will benefit financially or socially by telling you to believe something that in your heart cannot sit right. Be brave. Open your door and step outside. Be open to considering more than one idea.

Love thy neighbor. Faith over fear. Light over darkness. Love over everything.

He is here

Our baby Jesus is missing.

We’ve found everything else.  The lights, the stable, Mary and Joseph.

But baby Jesus is missing.

As I’ve looked for Him all week, I’ve cried quiet tears about how appropriate it is right now that He is the one that is missing.  Peace is gone from the earth, and the whole world seems mad.

As we have looked, I have let the girls put things where they want and lights and glitter are everywhere.

The stable has moved all over the place and most of the girls have spent time with their other little toys in it.

As I have watched each of them be drawn to the stable, I have been struck.  He is not missing.  He is there.

He is in little hearts, aching for Him to be found.  He is in the glow of the fireplace and the laughter and the lights.

He is in the warmth of our happy little cabin, and though it is unfinished, somehow, His love completes it.

He is in the stable, where little hands have played for days.  He is in the hearts of the people who are working miracles in our lives.

He is here.


A lot has changed, and I have felt like I’ve been floundering in deeper water, unsure of exactly what to do, and overwhelmed by the tide of meanness and sorrow and just plain ignorance in the world.

I went to the woods by myself.  I hiked about a mile and a half on the trail, and then I left the trail and plunged into the deeper snow.  I went further into the woods, aiming myself at the river I knew was back there.

The snow was falling and the world became white and silent.

Finally, I reached the river and I sat in the snow and listened to it go by.  Water in the silence of the woods.

I prayed…I spoke out loud to God and asked for His help.  Then I laid in the snow and closed my eyes.  The snow was falling harder, and I let it fall and cover me like a blanket.  I breathed deep and slow and listened to the sound of each tiny, perfect snowflake landing.

I did not feel the cold, only the assurance that I have always had help and that I already knew the answer.  It was time to stop being afraid and move forward.

When I rose from the snow, I felt like myself again.  My eyes were restored and I laughed aloud.  I know the Lord, and He knows me, and whatever crazy thing goes on in this world, He will help me to play my small part as best as I can.

“And I…did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things.”

-1 Nephi 18:3


Choosing love

“In the name of what?”

As I have watched what has happened to America following the attacks, I have been stunned.  I feel like I am screaming in the corner, begging so many of my friends to have sense.  As the frenzy has turned us ever further from love and ever deeper into fear, I, too, feel the need to scream of our country’s actions, “Not in my name.”

In spite of the fact that Paris has allowed even more refugees to come since the attacks, the American world is going crazy and I feel like a tide is washing over me, and though I haven’t given in to the fear that so many are feeling, I have felt an overwhelming despair at what is happening.

I keep thinking of my friends in Denver.  Refugees who always calmed me and helped me see the bigger picture.  Mamas.  Women with more strength than I have ever had.  I miss them.  I wonder how this is making them feel.

As usual, my girls are pulling me back from the dark.

When we told them about what was happening, they instantly leapt to action.  Children are wonderful.  They do not despair.  They move.

The girls asked where our nearest refugees are and what they could do for them.  They started putting lists together, doing research, making fliers, and knitting scarves.

They chose love and action, not despair and fear.

Home for the


The faith of a child can still change the world.

Choose love.

Giving up

Good-bye, autumn.

Each fall is a thrill for me.  I am never so happy as I am in the fall.  The air is cool, the mountains are quiet, and the leaves give their last gift and fall.

Fall always seems to be the time of my greatest growth.  It seems to be the time that my heart is ready and I turn more fully.

The past two years have been more important than probably any years that came before them.  Like the leaves of a tree, all of myself that I knew has fallen away and left the bare trunk of me exposed to myself.

I have been surprised this autumn as more has been asked.  I say that as though a demanding overlord has required my payment.  That is not it at all.  I have found that my heart is unable to rest.  I have yearned to be more, to be the best of myself that I can possibly offer.

As my heart has become more willing, more has been required of me.

I have been led onto paths of great uncertainty and paths that have required all my faith, both figurative and literal.

As I have given up things that have been so dear to me I didn’t know how I ever could, I have been amazed at the result.

Where I expected to see an emptiness after something has been given up, I have instead seen a glimpse of what it covered up…a small window into a deeper, more pure version of myself.

I have climbed mountains and sought the Lord, and I have found Him.

Changes are coming and they are more beautiful than what I held onto.  My heart bursts with Love for a Savior who is helping me give up.  I am no longer sorry for what I have given up.  Instead, I am so grateful that it was asked.

And now, I boldly welcome the winter that my heart has waited for all along.

Thank you for the comments, emails, phone calls, everything…I’ve been absent from my blog during this time of change and I am so grateful to all who have checked in.  It means more than you know.  :)

Faith and Fall

“There is at least a punky spark in my heart and it may blaze in this autumn gold, fanned by the King.” – John Muir

Fall burst in all its glory a little early this year.

There are times that I feel that autumn was made just for me.

Each year, my heart quickens and seems to both settle and pound at the burst of color and cool.

Perhaps it is because I am an autumn baby, but I feel like I am reborn each fall.

The lower sun illuminates the mountain gold, and the air becomes cooler.

Rain falls with more purpose.

All animals, from the largest bears to the smallest chipmunks, are at their most active right now, preparing for the long winter ahead.

As our wildflowers are dying and our mountains are preparing to sleep under a blanket of cold, I am coming to life.

Autumn always calls to my heart to wake up and be more.

But this year, it seems to be calling me fully back to life.

I feel more of a sense of purpose and drive than I have ever felt.

Faith is what has changed everything.

Faith that though there are long, cold times, there is so much life and it is worth living.

There are things to do and we will have help to do them.

Faith is a choice, but once that choice is made, the help to make it comes.

Now pardon me while I revel in being the mother of absolutely gorgeous children.




The woods are getting quiet again.

Nights are getting cold, making the quiet sky bright with stars.

Matt and I have been doing a lot of stargazing.

It reminds me of two years ago, when we first moved here. We would sit under the stars in awe, grateful every second that we had chosen to make our home here.

“When one is alone at night in the depths of these woods, the stillness is at once awful and sublime. Every leaf seems to speak.”
-John Muir

Ode to the end of summer (in photos)

Summer here is nearly over.

The leaves are beginning to turn and the nights are getting cold. Autumn is breathing its way in, and with it, my heart is pounding with the anticipation of all the change that is coming. So, as we have felt our summer fading, we have been using up every spare second. My sister has been here, and that has helped us enjoy it even more.


On the mountain

“Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear.”

C.S. Lewis

We spent the day in the holiest mountains of all.


This is a place I have often come to literally lay my burden at the feet of the mountains…the Lord’s feet.


For me there has been no greater courage, no greater faith, than to accept the pain He has given me, and then to have the faith to give it back and allow Him to use it to change me.  Accepting the grief was the first step.  The second was having the courage to let it go again.

It was in this holiest of places that I first knew I could still feel joy.  Today I hiked and sat and waded, soaking both the rain and the sunshine in, thanking God for bringing me to this place.


“You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you.”

– C.S. Lewis


Ever since I had my first baby, I knew I wanted our family to be different somehow.  I feel like every minute of my life since then has been spent striving to create the family I dreamed of having.  I have been so imperfect.

Somehow, in all of the imperfection, there is still always the ability at the end of the day to make it right.  “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong” are as important to us as “I love you.”

Our oldest was gone all week at camp.  I felt her absence keenly, and I think she felt ours.  A family is a fragile thing.  It should be handled with absolute care, above all things.  All things.

I feel such deep contentment being back together, and lately, I feel the most incredible peace I’ve ever had in my life.  I feel like I am finally seeing the incredible result of two people who love each other and their family so dearly.  I feel so grateful for the tremendous work of creating hallowed walls, where lovely, delicate seedlings are growing together, making ready someday to spread their peace and joy.


We climbed a mountain yesterday, one we’ve planned to climb since the beginning of the summer.

(This girl…first one up and first one down, driving us all the way.  The most amazing 5-year-old in the world.)

Climbing a mountain is like climbing to God.  You see the top and you long to be there.  You feel in your heart that you are ready for whatever it will take to get there.  So you climb.

The first part of the journey, though your heart pounds and your legs start to warm, seems so doable.  You find your rhythm and the top seems to get nearer.  You feel like you’re going to make it even sooner and easier than you thought.  It hasn’t been easy, but you’ve been tough enough for what it took to get that far.

But then, after a long while, you hit the switchbacks.  Switchback after ever-steepening switchback.  You can no longer see the peak, except perhaps rare glimpses when it looks further away than it ever did.  Many turn around at this point.

You consider it.

But still, you long to be there.  You know that if you just keep going, you can make it.

Depending on the mountain, there are moments when you just want to sit down and weep.  It seems nearly impossible.  You’ve surely gone far enough by now.  Your legs are burning and exhausted and you are gulping for air.

At times you meet people on the trail, coming down from the summit of the mountain.  They’ve been where you long to be.  They’ve paid the price to be there.  Though you wish you could sit with them and have them tell you about it so you’ve felt you’ve been there, you know it can’t work that way.  They can’t take you there, but they can offer encouragement and tell you that it’ll be worth it to keep going.

One kind man coming down could see the tired on our faces.  We were close, but not there yet.  “When it gets really rocky, you’ll know you’re almost there,” he said.  And he was right.  Rocks that seemed to pierce our feet caused us pain and gave us hope.

So for now, I just want to say, if you’ve been counted worthy of a mountain to climb, and it seems like the going is rockier than it’s ever been, maybe it’s because you’re almost there, where you long to be.

There is literally no feeling in the world like arriving.  The relief, the peace, the triumph.  The ache of your legs, your back, your lungs.  The view, the perspective.

Always, we sit there for a while, at least an hour.  How I wish we could stay.  But eventually, for now, we have to come down.

Coming down with the new load of what you’ve gone through and what you know can be nearly equally hard in some places.  But the load can be exactly what you need to give you the traction to move forward.

And can I say a few things about triumph?  We waited to climb this mountain because one of my daughters was afraid.

She has a very real fear of being caught on the mountain in a thunder storm.  Though we carefully plan with the weather, she has struggled to trust that we would be safe.  Rather than forcing her, we have waited while she worked through her fear and learned to trust me.

Even so, yesterday took all the faith she had.  Watching her finally overcome her own fear and climb that mountain was a profound moment in my life.  I think I spent more time watching her reaction and process from the top than I did looking at the view.

There is no joy like the triumph of climbing the mountain you feared your were not strong enough to climb.

This wee babe climbed her first mountain yesterday.  She’s been carried up before, and walked parts, but yesterday, she climbed by herself.  It was a sacred thing to witness.

We ended the day, swimming in the river we love, where steaming water from the earth meets with icy mountain water.  We rested our weary muscles and were new people, with the new perspective we had gained.  This is why we do hard things.  This is why we climb.  We grow stronger.  We become new.  We are never the same.