In Stormy Political Seas, These are Words To Remember about Faithfulness

As far as colors go, gray might just be one of my favorites. I’m sitting on a gray couch beside gray arm chairs resting their feet on a gray area rug. I painted the clock on the wall gray. And, how’s this for timing, I’m wearing a gray t-shirt this very moment.

But when it comes to life decisions, ethics and even Theology, gray is a hard color for me to swallow. In the university setting, during an ethics discussion, I didn’t like it when I felt like we were in gray territory and there wasn’t a clear black or white solution at the end of an hour’s discussion.

In the years that have followed, I’ve since come to have a different understanding of gray areas. Gray has become a new color for me, so to speak.

Earlier this year, many of you might’ve read this post I shared about my word for the year: Faithful. This word was like a tiny whisper to my soul from the Lord, just nudging me to keep my ears open and my heart listening to what He had to say.

This year, I’ve come to realize faithfulness and perfection are not the same thing, and I don’t have to be so hard on myself.


I’ve learned that other people might not know what faithful looks like for me — so I don’t need to fear judgment or outside opinions. It’s the Lord first and foremost I’m called to be faithful to.

And this bullet shot out of a speeding train pierced my heart through while I was writing the Swim Your Own Race series a few years ago:

Your Race is in Your Lane.


Your faithfulness and my faithfulness are going to look completely different. But that does not mean we are not both being faithful.

I have friends who have never taken their kids trick-or-treating because they feel it’s wrong to celebrate Halloween. I have friends who make a big deal out of Halloween and see it as an opportunity to connect with their neighbors.

Will I give the one side a high five and tell the other side they’re ridiculous? Obviously not.

Faithfulness looks different for different people, because God has different plans for each of us.

Am I saying there aren’t cold hard black and white areas where I think there’s no room for discussion? Of course not. We had some friends over for dinner this weekend and were discussing their denomination’s stance on a particular faith issue. The husband of this sweet couple commented, “We try to speak where the Bible speaks, and remain silent where the Bible is silent.”

That’s wisdom worth taking notes on.

Thousands of years ago, do you know how Alexander the Great became the ruler of one of the largest and most expansive empires of all time? War. Battle. Great strategy and Physical Domination.

How did Genghis Khan found the longest contiguous empire in history? Think the Mongols took a vote? Think again. Invasion and domination.

In Ancient Greece, Athens was known as a city where people had voices, and political decisions were discussed in an open marketplace. Down the road in Sparta, strength and physical domination were the most highly valued prize. But the Athenians were on to something we still believe today: the idea that an uneducated mass of people can be very easily ruled over, even bullied, truly. But educated individuals, given the right to vote, can elect officials that will represent their ideals well. It was a novel idea in those days.

Today, my fellow Americans and I have the privilege of casting a vote to elect the officials that will rule over us. I think about a very dear friend back in Zimbabwe, where elections aren’t really true, honest or real. My Hero Hubs is a resident alien, (and a South African Cowboy Gentleman) he watches from the sidelines. We mustn’t take it for granted: the democracy we call a “unalienable right” is still in many places a far off dream, a hoped-for-someday privilege.

If we do have the privilege, we should not take it lightly.


Paul once wrote these words to the Corinthians to encourage them in their generosity:

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. {II Cor. 9:6-7}

Like the Corinthians in their decision to give, before we make a decision and fill in a bubble on a ballot, we should wrestle in our hearts before God. This soul-searching is the most important part of the process. The Corinthians would have had to consider whether they were being greedy or trusting God for their provision, perhaps how much they were able to give and still meet other commitments. Similarly, we must wrestle with what we value most — are there certain political ideals we want to hold most firmly to? Certain character traits we feel are the most important? Are we valuing the right things most?

At the end of the day, some Corinthians would’ve given one amount, and others would’ve given another. But those different amounts didn’t mean one was being faithful and another was not. Each decided in his own heart and hopefully gave as the Lord led him.

I’m sure I don’t have to spell out the parallel to you — based on what’s on our hearts, what ideals we value, what character traits we are looking for, we will perhaps come to different conclusions about how to appropriately mark a ballot on November 8th.

But there is a beautiful conclusion for all of this:

We can feel differently about issues and still each be faithful to what God is speaking to our hearts. God might lead one friend to choose not to trick-or-treat at Halloween, and another to be out in the community with her kids in costume.

We can all do different things, and still be faithful to what God is leading us to do.

The most important part of the process is perhaps the wrestling. The drawing near to your Creator and doing your best to bare your soul and hope to live your days with a clean conscience before God, trusting that you listened to the Holy Spirit to the best of your ability.

As this political race comes to a close, remember that you are swimming your own race, and your race is in your lane. Faithfulness will look different for you than it will for the person to your right or your left.

Fix your eyes on Jesus, friend, love and respect your neighbors and their race in their lane, and just keep swimming your race with faithfulness.



A Blue Period and My 2016 Reader Survey

They say it comes in different ways to different people. To artists like Van Gogh and Picasso, to authors like Jack Kerouac. It’s this place where it feels like a blanket of sad lays down on a life. It’s heavy and it’s confusing and it might make you question just about everything, including your self and your gifts. Do you still have anything to offer the world?

Jack Kerouac said, “I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.”

Maybe it’s a place most folks who tend to live life as a “creative” go through. I sat around a table with a few photographers last week and was amazed at how people working creatively in a completely different sphere can experience the same sufferings. Do you have anything worth giving?

Maybe for me, it was the “baby blues” that often come to visit when a new baby’s made an appearance, and they’re so full of joy and the world seems like a big mess. Maybe it’s the state of the nation I live in — looking at things and wondering how the heck this whole mess can get cleaned up, made right. The justice and the love and the mercy — how do we find them and live them? Maybe it was the four months I spent trodding word-by-word through Les Miserables. Maybe it’s trying to figure out how to do all the things I hope to do when there are all the things I need to do. But probably, all these things swirling together with a dash of discouragement and a whisper or two from the enemy of my soul combined to create my own little blue period.



Seems to me that almost every time God whispers something deep and purposeful to my soul, my enemy is likely to come with his own clever ways and ask, “Did God really say?” 

So I’ve floundered and failed and fallen short for what feels like ages but is probably more like a good solid handful of months. And I’ve wondered and worried and asked — what about the miserable? What about the racism? The rioting? The troubles nearby? And the ones I know of, so much like these, back in countries I love on opposite sides of the globe?

Do I really have anything worthwhile to say?

Did God really say?

On a beautiful Sunday morning in a community of believers, we sang these old words made new — a hymn from the 1800s, remade for this century:

Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal.

And I remembered those whispers from God’s heart to mine at the beginning of the year. He didn’t ask for the moon or a million prayers or my firstborn.

He certainly didn’t ask me to fix the world’s problems. He just whispered: Faithful. Be faithful.

And this is the truth that is changing the blue to a bright and hope-filled green for me: I can’t heal the world. On our own, We won’t heal the world. But heaven can. And if we’re faithful — if we will faithfully live out the radically counter-cultural love that God calls us to, we’ll pave the way for heaven on earth.

So these are the ways I’m moving forward right now. I’m asking forgiveness for my lazy, hope-less soul, and gratefully receiving new measures of hope, which are my own choice to take after all. And I’m asking, Lord today, today, help me to be faithful.

In a desire to start afresh with an eye toward faithfulness, I’ve created a little reader survey. Just 9 super simple questions, to help me understand what would bless your heart, and help you on your journey toward faithfulness, and ultimately, toward Jesus. I’m hoping to be faithful with the gifts I’ve been given, and to encourage you in yours, too. I hope you precious and dear readers and friends will forgive me for the ways I’ve been unfaithful, and pray for me, as I pray for you, to keep turning to Jesus and finding His will and His way. We will fall short, we will be forgiven, and we will keep going deeper into Him.

Will you please take a moment to take this survey? Your time and your genuine honesty would be a gift to my soul, friend!

I’m excited to start this journey afresh, and praying that in the days to come, it will bless your heart…

Be encouraged today. Earth has NO sorrow heaven can’t heal. And our part in the story? Is faithfulness.


Please click here to take my 2016 Reader Survey

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.