About the Things New Year’s Resolutions Won’t Resolve

If we took a poll, I’d guess on average 10 out of 10 people like the idea of a fresh start. At least 9 out of 10. And the start of the New Year feels like this ginormous blank sheet of paper, laid out before you and divided into 365 separate boxes (366 this year!) and the possibilities for filling those boxes are endless.

The goals pile up: fitness, rest, doing the things that you’ve dreamed of doing, saving up for something big, perhaps giving more… and everyone takes a deep breath and hopes they can stick with this thing or that thing they’re committing to, because at the end of these 366 days, something will be really different if they do.

But, for many of us, there are hard places in our lives right now and some of them won’t be solved with New Year’s resolutions. Sometimes it’s a diagnosis we’re facing. Sometimes it’s wanting to be at home with the kids but the finances won’t allow it. Sometimes it’s wanting to be out and working and you just can’t find anyone to say yes. Sometimes getting married and having kids seems like a dream that will never become a reality.


For different reasons, it can feel like someone else is holding the reins to your one very precious life — and you just hope and pray and trust that they realize how significant the impact their action or inaction will be for you.

So what do you do when there’s a place in your life that a good ol’ resolution won’t resolve?

How do you move forward when you feel like something or someone is holding the hands on your clock to keep it from ticking on?

Perhaps there are a million different ways to handle being stuck in a Valley of Postponement but I’d like to narrow it down to three simple encouragements for somehow moving forward even when you’re sitting still.

Do What You Can Do

Maybe you can’t make a resolution to change this tough thing you’re waiting to change. As the famous old prayer goes, “God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

Never forget to take a step back and look at what you can do to make a difference in your situation. Maybe you’re hoping for a promotion in the workplace, and that decision firmly rests in someone else’s hands. But are you putting in the effort, aiming to add the value that will earn you that promotion? Are you actively searching for that opportunity you’re hoping for? Rolling up your sleeves to do your part?

When facing challenging situations in the past, in addition to praying and doing my best to listen for that still small voice, I’ve occasionally asked myself a question that almost seems imbecilic: If one of my friends came to me with this problem of mine, what would I tell my friend to do in this situation? And then, I’ve been surprised at how quickly the obvious answer has come, and I’ve laughed at how complicated I’ve made it.


Be truthful with yourself. Are you listening to the leading of the Lord and giving yourself the best advice, or is a defeatist attitude enabling you to sit back and say “This problem of mine is 100% in somebody else’s hands”?

Put briefly: Pray, AND, Do What You Can Do.

Look For What God Might Be Doing

Once upon a time I was on a beach in South Africa, off for a peaceful walk by myself, puzzled over a worrying whisper of the enemy that had been troubling my heart for a few days. I stared down at the sand as I walked, and suddenly noticed a section of sand that looked like sand but somehow also looked different. I reached down and realized it was a little rock, lying on the sand, perfectly colored and speckled to look just like the coarse and speckled sand that covered that distant shore.

As I held it in my hand and thought for a moment, I heard the Lord whisper, “Just because you can’t see what I’m doing, that doesn’t mean there isn’t something there. It doesn’t mean I’m not at work. I am at work, even though you might not see it.” I’d almost missed that little rock that looked the same as everything around it — but there was something there, a tangible something, indeed.

Have you ever heard The Message version of those simple words from Jesus about not worrying? This shed a whole new light on the idea of trusting and taking it one day at a time for me.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” {Matthew 6:34, the Message}

Remember that change is still happening, God is still moving, even when you can’t see it or quantify the difference. Today, you are closer to the day when change happens, even if nothing in your life says so, simply because you’ve lived one more day.


Sometimes we can feel like we’re trapped in a situation, when truthfully we’re much more free than we realize. We can feel like we’re stuck in the mire, when truly, we’re on holy ground, and God is training us with our future in mind.

I worked in a Pawn Shop for a year after finishing my masters’ degree, and it seemed like a valley of postponement because I was dreaming of leaving the country to minister in another part of the world. Once I began to recognize that this was a God-ordained place where my Good Father intended to teach me something new, I started paying attention. Through the challenges, and in a place I never expected, I learned lessons incredibly important for my soul that became very precious to me in the season that followed.

Where we are at this very moment is often much more God-ordained than we’d like to believe.

So. You feel like you’re taking a look at the part your can play in the situation, but maybe you haven’t spotted a speckled rock on the shore of your challenges at the moment. Still, in this hard place, you can choose to keep looking, and even to trust that things are happening that you can’t see.

This is a good day for you to look for what God is doing today.

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this post, so I’m going to hit the pause button and return with a second installment and one more encouragement for how to move forward in places where a New Year’s Resolution just can’t resolve what’s happening for you. I hope you’re encouraged, and I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Look out for part two tomorrow!



Me and My Big Mouth

As bedtime was nearing and I was finishing up with the usual toothbrushing and face washing in the loo, one Hero of a Hubs already reading in bed, the thought occurred to me to complain about something. Nothing majorly offensive or utterly life-changing, just a passing comment made by a passing person that I didn’t particularly care for. (The comment, not the person.) It was one of those little comments that might get under your skin like a splinter — the choice is yours how to set about getting it out.

But as I prepared to walk out of the bathroom and open my mouth, another thought occurred to me: Why bother talking about it?

This thought was immediately followed by perhaps a much more significant one — a reminder of an acronym I’ve been repeating to our children of late, to help them consider whether some words that are inside their sweet little brains ought to come out of their sweet little mouths.

You may have heard the acronym for the word, THINK — in correspondence with each letter of the word, there’s a question to be asked about the thing you’re considering saying. Is it True? Is it Helpful? Is it Inspiring? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind?

Of course no sooner was this acronym flashing across my mind than I immediately thought to myself, Well, Mama, can you practice what you preach?

Belle and Duck

Let’s get right down to it before anyone nominates me for sainthood (giggle, snort): I am not yet in control of my tongue. I’d like to blame being caught up in a generation of folks who feel that anything that they feel particularly strongly about needs to be shared with the community at large, most often virtually, without anyone asking about it. Better translated? These days it seems we get annoyed about something and feel the immediate need to post a “Rant” about it on social media, perhaps in addition to complaining In Real Life.

Certainly there is a time and a place for many-a-feeling to be expressed. But perhaps it’s not as often as we think?

I kept my mouth closed, climbed into bed, and opened my Bible to the next section on my daily reading list — where I promptly found myself in Proverbs, reading and re-reading each verse, because it can take a while for me to even begin to comprehend the depth behind some of these verses that are barely the length of an average sentence.

Then Proverbs 29:11 greeted me, and my mouth hung open for a moment:

A fool vents all his feelings,
But a wise man holds them back.


I so often get this wrong.

I so often feel that my opinion about things is absolutely important and must by necessity be heard.

Now this is a different thing from actually experiencing some sort of hardship which you could use the help of a friend to get past — but how often would I do the world a favor by keeping my big mouth shut, spending some further time discussing the issue with the Lord in prayer, and then, only if necessary, choosing to discuss the matter, with great discretion, with an appropriate party?

Recently, I was upset about something someone said, and in discussing it with that person, overreacted and had a multitude of opinions to share with that person regarding how I felt about the situation. I didn’t slow down, I didn’t truly consult the Lord, and I foolishly vented all my feelings, with the idea that I might fully express how I felt, and then we could resolve the issue.

Proverbs 10:19 greeted me later that day:

In the multitude of words sin in not lacking,
But he who restrains his lips is wise.

Had I chosen to wait, to pray, to think carefully before responding, and be slow to just say say say, I would’ve avoided offending (and honestly, hurting) the person who offended me, and struck a better course toward fostering peace between us.

Last night, after I read that first verse (above), I paused to give thanks that the Lord had led me to show restraint. If the tongue is a rudder, the ship is the heart — and heaven knows that a tongue can steer a heart in many directions. I also asked forgiveness because I so often fall short — me and my big mouth — in honoring the Lord with what I choose to say and what I choose to refrain from saying.

I continued reading and sensed His confirmation that He’d been leading me on a path toward peace as I read Proverbs 29:20:

Do you see a man hasty in his words?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Truthfully, our words are so powerful, in how they steer our own hearts, and how they steer and affect the hearts of the people around us. With our furiously fast fingers and a quick click, we are instantly able to put our hearts, our thoughts, our opinions, and our words, out to friends and family so quickly, and even out there for hundreds, if not thousands, of people to read.

But we’re foolish to think they all need to be put out there.

Are we stopping to think whether or not we should speak or type? Perhaps this or that statement is True — but is it Helpful? Necessary? Will it Inspire others or encourage them to also rant, vent, or complain right along with us? Could we THINK a little more carefully about what is truly grieving us, and how we might better translate that into an inspiring message, if anything actually needs to be said? A word that helps with its kindness?

Just a couple days ago, Gmail officially added an “Undo Send” button to their Mail feature. It was an experimental feature available for some time, but now is a permanent option which can be enabled inside their Mail application. My sister is often hilariously observant about life and commented on Facebook:

Just enabled my “undo send” button on gmail. Somehow I don’t think 30 seconds is going to be enough time for me to realize I’ve said something stupid.

I read her words and thought: I am absolutely in the same boat. Guilty as charged, me and my big mouth.

We can’t very often ‘undo,’ ‘unsend,’ or ‘unsay’ the words we allow to come out of our mouths (or our text messages and inboxes). So the best option we have is to carefully consider them before they leave our brains.

As I read just a little more, closing up for the evening last night, I came across a word that gave me some hope. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 says:

But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.

Thank you, Lord — there is hope for me and my big mouth. There’s grace. There’s forgiveness.

And, if we can take heed and hear the Father’s heart as He encourages us to carefully consider our words before just letting them fly out of our mouths, we will be protected from giving so many footholds to the enemy of our souls. We’ll also be shielded from doing a bit of injury to ourselves, or to people we care about, in the process.

The Sermon in a Nutshell: Life rarely gives us a genuine ‘unsend’ button for our words — so let’s give plenty of thought to which ones we allow to come out.


Coming Up for Air

I know friends, I know! It’s been over a month since I’ve had the joy of sharing words with you. Now here’s the thing. I would like to make excuses based on the following list of tasks I’m handling:

  1. My awesome three small children
  2. My first ever garden
  3. Laundry
  4. I’m still (!) continuing to settle my Dad’s estate a year and three months after his departure
  5. The necessity that meals be made three times a day
  6. My joyful contribution to Quiver Tree Photography (I promise this list is not a complaint list! I love working alongside the Hubs!)
  7. Laundry

But really? Those excuses are not valid. It’s been on my heart to share a number of things here recently, but sadly, I haven’t been taking (making?) the time to do it. I’m excited to discuss my cloth diapering experience with you guys, to share photos from the last trip to SA, and to mostly just talk about God’s goodness — a topic I still haven’t gotten tired of.

But today, I’m coming up for air (because I feel a bit like I’ve been swimming under water and I need to see which way I’m headed…perhaps you can relate?) to ask you an important question. Which starts with an observation.  {And the reason why my list isn’t exactly valid.}

Writing is the thing that makes me come alive inside. I love to write. LOVE. And the way Eric Liddell spoke about how he loved to run, that when he ran “He felt the Lord’s pleasure” with him, I get that sense about writing. I sense that the Lord says write and speaks to me and through me when I do.

But then, hold up — you might say — why isn’t writing on that list up there, ya cottonheadedninnymuggins?

Isn’t that a funny thing? One important thing I absolutely believe I was created to do isn’t on my to-do list?

Here’s my diagnosis: The world does not always give us permission to do the things we love. Sometimes we even begin to feel guilty about taking time to do the things we love. Here are some reasons you might have for not going after something you love:

  1. It doesn’t make any money. (Often a major one these days among us capitalists, I think).
  2. It requires time that you don’t feel you ought to give it.
  3. It might require some monetary investment… and you feel like you just can’t do that.
  4. You’re afraid of trying to do it and failing.

That list could go on and on, but you get the point. We often feel like we need some sort of “permission” from the world around us to go after something we love. To take a risk and dive in to something new.

I once read a story (tell me if you can remember where) about a young man who was on a trip with his Dad and his brothers, and they were going to go hike up Mt. Rainier together. The views along the hike are breathtaking, and Seattle spreads out like a blanket in front of this beautiful peak.

When they arrived at the National Park’s Visitor Center, he got scared. There were (a few) interesting things to see around the visitor center, so, really out of fear, he excused himself from the hike and stayed at the visitor center. His Dad and brothers went on the hike, but he stayed behind and waited for them to return. He learned a lot about Mount Rainier at that Visitor Center, but fear kept him from truly experiencing Mount Rainier, and afterwards, he regretted the choice he made.

Is there anything in your life, right now, that you think, in five or ten years’ time, you’ll look back on and think, “Gosh, I wish I’d just made some time to ____________ back then”?

Trying to do something you love in a world that is telling you to just get on with being productive can feel a bit like hiking up a mountain. Scary for some, exciting for others. 

Know that the thing you love to do does not need to make money for you in order for it to be valid.

Lots of people enjoy photography as a hobby. They eventually decide to begin working as photographers, charging for photo sessions. They feel that they are validating their hobby, by turning it into a paycheck. But the truth is, they aren’t really doing what they love. They don’t necessarily enjoy working with people they’ve never met before or children or dogs. They find paid photo sessions incredibly stressful. They don’t want to quit their full time job to pursue photography, and they’re in this sort of limbo, where they’ve started turning something they passionately enjoyed into something to help pay bills, which has turned it something they no longer enjoy.

The truth is, sometimes photography can be a profession and still be a passion (we know this personally), but sometimes a person needs to have a 9 to 5 doing something else, to allow photography the space to be something they enjoy as a creative outlet when they’re not working.

For me, writing isn’t paying any bills (yet) but it makes me come alive inside, and I love it. So I should stop waiting for the world to give me permission to do something I love and believe I was created to do.

What is that thing for you? Is it screaming inside your head as you’re reading these words? Shouting “stop ignoring me, please!” perhaps?

Here’s an important truth:



via the awesome Jon Acuff

The world might neither give you permission nor encouragement to follow your dreams and do what you love. And it is likely it will give you resistance.

But the first step is acknowledging there is something you’re not doing that you’d really love to do. And the next step is to figure out how, even by tiny measures, you can actively work toward making that dream a reality.

So ask yourself: what’s it going to take to get me off the sidelines and onto the field?

Let me be one voice today giving you permission to give some of your time, your heart, your self to doing something you love.



A little over nine months ago, I was in my brother’s car. We’d left the hospital where my Dad lay unconscious, still breathing, but almost no longer with us. Russ was getting a bite to eat, I was getting fresh air, and it was hard to know what to say, what to think, what was going to happen over the next few days.

A song came on the radio that I’d heard several times before, but this time it began to haunt me. I felt like maybe it was a whisper from the Lord. I listened intently, deer frozen in headlights, but the lyrics didn’t yet mean anything to me — I was sort of numb with grief, so heavy-hearted. Grounded in the passenger seat of my brother’s car, and simultaneously lost at sea.

A few days later, I watched my Dad breathe the last breaths he would ever breathe, and I entered a journey of grief — so sudden, so unexpected, such a crevasse… a frightening abyss.

From time to time, I’d hear that song again, and be whisked back to that moment in my brother’s car. Sitting in the passenger seat — clearly not driving, not steering the ship, not in control of what was happening around me.

It took a while for me to not cry if the song came on… but still, I wanted to hear it, and hear it again.

The week before Christmas, for the first time, truly, I was deeply, profoundly, greatly surprised by joy again. I’d been out grocery shopping, and an international collection of reusable shopping bags scattered our kitchen floor. The Belle crawled in to inspect all the interesting things at baby’s-eye-level.

She proceeded to find a cupboard she could open and unpack. While she pulled things out here, I put things away there, and eventually I sat down beside her to repack the random assortment of boxes and bags she’d pulled to the floor. Once everything was packed away, still seated on the floor, I lifted her up over my head, and she squealed with delight at the fun of the moment.

I lay flat on my back on the floor for a while, lifting and tickling the baby, intentionally choosing the moment over the continual rush of what was tapping on my shoulder, the next thing on the to-do list.

In the moment, I was overwhelmed with joy, reminded of the gifts I’ve been counting in my heart and sometimes on paper. The simple convergence of a decision to be in the moment, to enjoy this little girl who’s changing every day, and a few giggles and laughs was enough to create such an overflow of glee in my heart, it spilled out in happy tears on my cheeks.

Grief has been a long and an unfamiliar road, and it’s a road I’m still traveling.

I still furrow my brow just thinking about the journey, even though I can see so many gifts along the way.

Last night I was joyful to say Goodbye to 2013. Along with a couple of million other Instagram users and Facebookers and social media addicts, I created a little “Flipagram” with lots of my favorite camera-phone images from 2013. {You can view it here.}


I selected a few dozen images, and then the option of choosing a song appeared, and instantly that same beautiful, haunting song came to mind. I searched and scrolled to find it, selected it, and listened again, as images from this past year flew by.

The song is called Home, by Phillip Phillips, and there was just this one lyric I couldn’t get past: what is this place that is going to be Home? Where is home? If God has something to say to me, what is He saying about where home will be for a girl who’s lost her Dad and now feels just a little less attached to planet Earth than I did a year ago?

But today was the day for it to finally hit me. If these are the whispers of Jesus — this God-whisper has the encouraging truth I was missing: whether we are here on Earth, or we’ve breathed our last and flown away some glad morning, the home we should all be longing for is in the Presence of God.

The Christmas we celebrate is so significant because of the coming of the presence of God, as a human on Earth.

The death and Resurrection we revere is so significant because it paves the way for us, though we are messed up and fallen and broken still, to find our way back to that home — that place where we most belong, the glorious presence of an incredibly loving God — there and waiting, arms wide open all along. Prodigals, come home and rejoice!

That first shower on New Year’s morning seems to be an epiphany moment for me always — and today was no different.

The melody was in my mind again. I could hear the God-whisper in those lyrics, and finally, my heart understood:

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave (wave) is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m gonna make this place your home

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m gonna make this place your home

This indeed has been a year where trouble has dragged me down. Where voices in dark corners have whispered fear that shook my very soul.

It has been a year of getting lost. It has been a year of being found.

And the glory of it all is learning, deeper still, to make the presence of God the home where I live always — in this life and the next. God has been the one to hold onto, who has rolled with me down this unfamiliar road. Me, in the passenger seat and out of control, wishing things could be different, mourning what was lost, disappointed at what happened, what was done and wouldn’t come ’round again.

What a promise it was — when He said He’d never leave us.

If there’s one wish, one hope, one resolute commitment for me in the year to come, it’s to constantly say yes to the God who wants to make His Presence my home.

Troubles might drag us down, but if we get lost we can always be found. Friend, know you’re not alone, and this year, make His heart your home.


How We Do Health Care

How We Do Health Care

Hey guys and gals — I’m interrupting the regularly scheduled 31Days posts (but not skipping a day — I will post again tomorrow!) just to share a bit about how we do health care. I started a post about this topic in February of this year… yes… but finally decided, with a nudge from the legislation of el gobierno, Okay, I’m getting too many questions NOT to write this post. (Otherwise I’ll be answering the same questions over and over, right?)

So with no more than eight months’ ado, here’s the skinny on how we do Health Care:

We are a part of a Christian Health Care sharing ministry called Samaritan’s Ministries International. {Not affiliated with Samaritan’s Purse or Samaritan’s Feet…} Their system is pretty simple and we love it, because it feels like we are a part of the body of believers in a great, tangible way.


{Image from a card I received from a fellow SMI member when my Dad died. Source.}


Each month, SMI sends a newsletter with the name of a person who has had a health care issue, explains the issue (not in great detail – that might be weird) and sends their address. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to pray for that person, and send your ministry “share” (your check) directly to that member who has a need. Our share is $370 per month — and (bonus for us) this amount does not change regardless of the number of children you have.

You send your share to a fellow member 11 months a year, and directly to the SMI offices to cover administrative costs 1 month a year.

So, for example, the month I started writing this post we were sending our check to a couple in Asheville — the husband recently had surgery for prostrate cancer. And when I submitted the doctor’s bills for the Belle’s pregnancy and delivery, we began receiving checks from other members with notes of encouragement and so on, to cover our bills.


When you have some sort of health-related issue, you simply pay the bill yourself (or wait, if needs be), submit the need to SMI, and then “reimburse yourself.” Or, if you’d rather, you can wait until the funds come in from your SMI submission, and then pay the bills. {Just keep in mind sometimes you get a nice discount for prompt payment, which is kind of better for everybody, if you can swing it. But sometimes it’s good to wait longer — it seems like discounts are sometimes easier to negotiate when you’ve taken your time about paying a bill. Hard to decide what to do sometimes! SMI folks can help if you’re in a conundrum.}


In SMI speak, Making a Claim is called Submitting (and Publishing) a Need. (An eligible need is “published” when it is sent to other members of SMI so that they send their gifts to cover your need.) Needs are only publishable if they are:

1) Over $300 (up to $250,000)

2) Not needs that you had before you became a member of SMI.

Because SMI is less expensive than most traditional health care options, you do have to budget for the fact that a routine doctor’s visit will not be covered, unless it’s more than $300. (But what doctor are you visiting whose routine visits are more than $300??)

But because SMI is not Health Insurance, you are considered self-pay and usually receive a very significant discount because of that. (i.e., the Belle’s $128 baby check-ups are often reduced to $58. Which to me indicates something is wrong with the health care system in general but never you mind.)


In many cases, you are able to negotiate discounts on health care costs. For example, by offering to go ahead and pay three different bills related to my pregnancy with the Belle, the company I needed to pay for the lab tests (or whatever) was willing to knock something to the tune of $600 off the total amount owed. When I submitted those bills to SMI, and indicated that I received that discount I negotiated, the $300 deductible was reduced to nothing. Better explained:

If you are able to negotiate a discount off your bill, that amount will come off the standard initial $300 deductible, and you’ll just pay the remaining amount you owe. If you negotiate a $50 discount, you’ll just pay $250 out of pocket and the remaining amount will be published by SMI.

I ended up paying about $0 for my pregnancy and delivery with the Belle.


On months where the total amount of needs being submitted is higher than the number of shares scheduled to be sent, the needs are prorated to cover as much as possible across the board. For example, SMI might only be able to publish 90% of the amount of your need. Members are then encouraged to send an additional amount if they are able to. You might be able to negotiate additional discounts if you haven’t paid your bill yet. One way or another (Keep Calm and Trust God) it generally works out. And if/when people do make additional gifts to cover pro-rated needs, SMI will touch base to see what happened and if you need additional funds.


In March of this year, my Dad, who had not been an SMI member for very long, suddenly had a heart attack, spent a week in the hospital in the Cardiac ICU, and then I saw him for the last time I’d see him this side of heaven and he was gone.

About $140,000 worth of medical bills were left behind.

Nearly $17,000 was knocked off his main hospital bill because he was an organ donor, which was awesome. (And guys, please consider being an organ donor. It blesses me to know that a woman with three grandchildren received a kidney transplant when my Dad died — something positive out of something so hard.)

But, for you non-mathematicians out there, we still owed… 100,000 + 3700 + 4,000… um, a LOT.

When the bills came in, I gathered them up, filled out the necessary paperwork (which by the way is impressively little) and submitted the need to SMI.

Needs are usually published around 30 – 60 days after their submission, and it took me a while to get everything together (the hospital actually took a long time to send the main bill???). So, in September of this year, my Dad’s need was published and hundreds of checks began to arrive in our mailbox in the days that followed. Many of them complete with beautiful cards, prayers and notes of encouragement and Scriptures — and WOW did it mean a lot to me.

The knowledge that so many people had prayed for my family was very powerful, very meaningful. The checks have been deposited to the Estate’s bank account, and I will be paying the bills in the days ahead.

Because the need was such a large amount, even though September was a month where they needed to prorate needs, SMI decided to divide my Dad’s need up and publish it over two months to make sure we got the full amount. Which was HUGE. And just blessed my soul.

To me, it is absolutely evidence of the body of Christ in action.

Every time I called SMI to get their help in the process of submitting needs after my Dad’s death, someone ended the conversation by asking if they could pray for me. EVERY time. It was such a gift, and though it often brought me to tears, it often overwhelmed me with the knowledge that the Lord was with me through that very challenging time.


This is by no means a comprehensive explanation of SMI. You’re welcome to ask questions in the comments but I would love it if you would first visit their website and especially check out their detailed FAQ page.

Here’s my little Pros & Cons breakdown:

The Pros:

  • It is not as expensive as health insurance, and we love the “vision” of Christians sharing with one another as they have need.
  • They cover almost any medical needs, except for ones that existed before a person became a member with SMI. If there are large needs that existed before the person became a member, they will often still send out “Special Prayer Needs” and ask members to give something if they would like to and are able to help.
  • As previously explained, the first $300 of any need is to be covered by the member, so if you have a $75 doctor visit, you’ll be paying that out of pocket. But, if you submit a need over $300 and you’re able to negotiate a discount, the discount you negotiate will reduce the deductible. (And when you explain to a health care provider that you are self-pay, they often have a discount — even $75 bills have been reduced for me just because I’ve asked about this.) Since we negotiated multiple deductions for my pregnancy and delivery, we haven’t had to pay anything.
  • They give you a monthly prayer guide, so you are praying for other SMI members with medical issues around the world each day. It is a beautiful connection in the body.

The Cons:

  • It can sometimes take time for the need to be submitted and for you to begin receiving shares. So this could either affect your cashflow or you could have a special savings account just for medical expenses… or you could use a credit card if you willing. Or you can just wait to pay the bills… we have had some of our bills reduced just because we took our time about paying them!
  • Not having coverage for smaller doctor’s visits can be a bummer if finances are tight — but budgeting for this when possible should make that okay.
  • It is probably easier to pull out an insurance card than to have to keep track of shares and submit medical bills. (But remember — convenience often comes at a price and I think our country is feeling that price right now. )
  • If there are more needs than shares in a particular month, your need might be “pro-rated” and only be covered 80-90%. In this case, they often encourage people to give a little extra to help cover things.


Overall, we have been EXTREMELY happy with SMI. It is perhaps a little less “convenient” than health insurance, but since it seems like the health insurance system is a mess that’s only getting worse, and we are very happy to be doing it this way – probably saving a lot of money, and participating in a church-minded way of bearing one another’s burdens as we are encouraged in Scripture.

You can check out their website at www.samaritanministries.org to find out more about how they work. And if you do sign up, please let them know Caroline Collie referred you — one of our monthly shares will be discounted as a result, and since I spent a gabillion hours trying to write all this in a blog post, that would be awesome!



Ears Wide Shut

Ears Wide Shut

I occasionally marvel at the incredible ability my children sometimes have to hear something coming out of my mouth but not listen to a single word I’m saying. We might be in close proximity, or I might be calling from the other room — somehow they are born with an in-built ability to completely tune out the sound of my voice once they reach eighteen months or so.

I was contemplating my own listening patterns this morning, however, and realized my children and I have something in common. Sometimes I sense the still, small voice of the Lord whispering something to my heart, but I want to keep doing what I’m doing, so I don’t give it any of my attention.

Over the weekend, I was busy getting a bunch of stuff done around the house that needed doing. My Mom had come over to help and we were knocking out laundry by the basketload, I was scrubbing tubs, she was changing sheets — it was a very busy morning, but it felt so good to be getting so much accomplished. During an eager floor-scrubbing session, I sensed the whisper of the Lord, almost one of those taps on the shoulder that you feel in your heart. It seemed like an invitation to sit still for a moment.


I’m sad to say I kept on working. My Mom was helping, I was eager to get stuff done, perhaps I was afraid the Lord was displeased with me and didn’t want to hear what He had to say. But looking back, and knowing how good and sweet His words are, how full of life, I realized it was a missed opportunity.

I forgot that, in my case, (I can’t always say the same for my children), communing with the Creator of the Universe is a privilege not to be taken lightly.

Sarah Young points out in Jesus Calling that “Kings who reign on earth tend to make themselves inaccessible; ordinary people almost never gain an audience with them.” But how glorious is it that the Lord, though King of the Universe, is totally accessible to you and me, and is with us wherever we are! (p.281)

And Isaiah 55:3 says,

Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you the unfailing love I promised David.

God’s invitation to come includes promises like rest for the weary, an easy burden and a light yoke, grace, mercy that’s new every morning, compassion that never fails.

I wonder what marvelous gifts from the Lord’s heart I’ve missed, all the times I’ve decided to close my ears and just “do what I want to do.”

In the case of my kids, the number one solution I’ve found to the ears wide shut problem is often asking them to look at me. I usually say, “[Kid name] look at my eyes.” I wait for them to stop what they’re doing and change their gaze to meet mine, and then I am able to communicate with them whatever it is I want to say.

And perhaps there’s a very good parallel to hearing from the Lord. That still small voice can’t be heard if your own voice is shouting, your own heart is beating loudly from exhaustive efforts, your own hands are working and making a din of their own.

Sometimes, He does whisper while we work. But sometimes, we must be willing to come with ears wide open, to put down the  dishcloth or the iPhone, the expense report or the dirty laundry.

He’s asking us to Be Still and Know {Ps. 46:10} and if we can’t be still, then we won’t know.

Have you sensed that gentle nudge, that shoulder tap, the warm sense in your chest lately? Don’t be afraid to stop what you’re doing and turn your gaze to meet that of your Creator. Put down what you can for a while, and let the eyes of your soul rest on His.

Listen, and you will find life.