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.