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Category Archives: Love Yourself



Last week a friend and I visited a museum downtown, there was a temporary exhibit on Light that we were both interested in, so we took the afternoon to do something a little different. I have never regarded myself as artistic or particularly creative, so for me viewing art and seeing light and color tends to be a flat experience, while some of those closest to me see technicolor and life. This recent adventure started off similarly; my friend kept trying to show me beauty and magic and I saw mirrors reflecting not much of anything.
But then, we walked into a separate room that contained various glass objects on tables scattered throughout. There was a young man sitting near the door, so I approached him and asked him what we were meant to see there. The guy lit up, he came from around his desk and walked us to the first exhibit and showed us that instead of looking at the object, we should focus on the shadow it created. The next one cast a great prism onto the wall behind it, and suddenly I saw what the artist wanted us to see! Lights from the ceiling were placed just right onto the glass pieces, which dispersed color all over the place. It was beautiful. For the first time ever, I found myself excited to go to the next table to see what else was in store for us!
It occurred to me that recently I have been more willing to ask the expert in the room what it is that I am meant to see, instead of relying on my own ideas and limited experiences. Sometimes I even think to do this before reading a passage of scripture, or listening to a sermon; God, what am I meant to see here? When this happens, fresh wisdom rains down, opening my eyes to what has always been, but I was previously unable to see. I really want to hold on to this revelation because when I am willing to be open and teachable, light shines through.

photo by Andreas Resch



2017 Reading List


I am trying to spend more time reading what I want to learn more about, or just what I enjoy. I took these off of my Kindle, it seems to be the only way I read anymore. For 2018, I want to read more, I have three books piling up now. If you have any suggestions, I’m open!

Life Giving

Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek – an interesting book that teaches the simple (but not easy) philosophy of ‘figure out your why and your how should follow’. He gives many examples of successful companies who have done this and succeeded, as well as examples of those who never found it. He does repeat himself quite a bit.

This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel – an intriguing fictional account of a family going through an identity crisis. This book opened my eyes to the issue of having a transgender child, or person in your life. It was uncomfortable and a valuable read to me.

The Kindness Challenge: Thirty Days to Improve Any Relationship by Shaunti Feldhahn– looking back over the year I read several books that deal with being kinder and gentler to those you love most. As Feldhahn always does, she fills this book with research and accounts to help you see that you are not alone. We tend to believe that we are very kind to our families, this books helps you determine the truth, and how anyone can improve.

The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming of Age Crisis – and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance by Ben Sasse – I have been following our Senator on Twitter for more than a year, so I was excited to read what he had to say about parenting. I was so pleased to see that he didn’t use his book as a political platform, but as a soapbox. His argument is that we don’t allow our children to work hard and enter adulthood, and freeze them in adolescence. He makes a great point, and has clear ideas on how to combat this epidemic in our society.

Dare to Respect by Tammy Oberg De La Garza – this author contacted me and asked me to review her new book. Honestly I did not expect to like it, the title alone made me want to push back. But I ended up enjoying this fictional account of a group of women who read the book and the various ways they accepted the challenge within their marriages.

A Family Shaped by Grace by Gary Morland – I was on the launch team for the writer of this book. It is a powerfully personal account of a man who had addictions and issues along with a wife and children, and eventually overcame the obstacles to even thrive as a father and husband. It is a very loving book with wisdom that anyone can benefit from.

Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff – this was one of the last books of the year that I read and I loved it! Acuff is someone I have followed for years and I read whatever he has to say, but this book gives a good, solid explanation for the reason we either never start our goals, or tend to stop before finishing them. He uses research that makes it so much more interesting and valuable to the reader. I definitely learned some key take-aways from this book.

Life Changing

Whole: Restoring What is Broken Inside of Me, You and the Entire World by Steve Weins– this is a wonderful book written by a pastor in Maple Grove, MN. The reader learns some key Hebrew words and their usage and is taken on a journey through scripture and the writer’s experiences to learn how to live a life the way God intended: whole. His explanation of being shalom to others is beautiful, and a concept that keeps resonating with me. This is a book for a longtime believer who may have lost touch with why we’re here and what we’re supposed to be doing.

Water to Wine: Some of My Story by Brian Zahnd – I read this book at the beginning of the year and I am not sure I’m ready to talk about it yet. Brian Zahnd is a pastor in MO who pastored a large congregation, until he had a crisis of evangelical proportions and changed the way that he saw the world and preached to his congregation. This book was the first of three this year that have radically changed my perspective. I’m grateful for reading it, but life honestly life was easier before I ever did.

Sinners in the Hands if a Loving God: The Scandalous Truth of the Very Good News by Brian Zahnd – This is the second of Zahnd’s books that I read this year, and this one also blew my box open, but not in such a big way as Water to Wine. To really understand the heart of the author, I would suggest reading them in the same order. Zahnd is seen as a radical in the Evangelical world, and not supported by everyone, and that’s okay with me. The chapter on hell is my favorite.

Life Zapping

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch – I can hardly remember this book. Cool concept, not cool execution.



It was the first semester of my freshman year in college. I lived a couple of hours away from home and was loving my independence, until an incident occurred that made me feel completely out of control. I was visiting a family member of a friend, the relative was much older than we were, and he isolated me and made some big assumptions and actions. The whole thing happened quickly and was so shocking that it took me some time to process.

I drove home to my parents the next morning, and told them everything, showing them torn clothing and bruises while gulping for air. My parents reacted in the best way possible:

  1. They believed me. There was no questioning of my motive, understanding or my memory of the events that had occurred.
  2. They supported me. My parents encouraged me to go back to my university town and go straight to the police. For almost a year after that, we were embroiled in pressing charges against a prominent person in my community. The court date was re-scheduled and changed several times and my Dad was there each time.
  3. They rooted for me. My family was understanding of the stress this situation put me through, and they encouraged me every step of the way, never suggesting that I should leave school, keep quiet or pretend nothing had ever happened.

The assault made my introduction to college much more challenging than I had expected, but it also gave me clarity about what was truly important to me; safety and respect. It is so difficult to convey the helplessness of having little to no say about what happens to your body, while simultaneously questioning yourself. Over time I changed my major to work professionally with survivors of rape, domestic violence and incest. I would never wish a situation like this on anyone, the fear and doubt that ate at me was sometimes paralyzing, but I learned from firsthand experience the importance of responding from a place of love with belief, support and encouragement.



Recently I was on the phone with our daughter Jessica, who lives in Maine and is attending Midwifery school, a three-year program that will allow her to be a certified professional Midwife. There has been no doubt in our minds over the last couple of years that our girl (no matter how old she will always be our girl) is meant to be a Midwife, and we love to hear her stories of struggle and triumph to be on her own so far from home.

We were talking about a Nutrition class Jess has been taking, and my assumption was that this would be one of her favorites because she has been passionate about using foods and herbs to heal and prevent sickness. After her first class I was surprised to learn that she was overwhelmed and not excited about the subsequent classes on the subject. After the second class, she was even more negative about the subject, saying they were expecting way too many details and going more in-depth than needed for pre-natal care. I encouraged Jess to give honest feedback when the class was over, suggesting that this was too much information and perhaps less time should be spent on the subject matter.

And then an interesting thing happened. Jessica attended her last Nutrition class and took the final exam. She said she knew she had done well on it, but was the last person to turn in the test. As she did so, her instructor opened up the conversation and invited my girl to ask questions. After discussing the test and talking more about nutrition, Jess had a change of heart; she decided that what was needed wasn’t less information, but more. She concluded that this subject is vital to the health of the pregnant woman and the baby, and that more emphasis should be place on this component, more time allotted in the classroom, not less.

I appreciate the fact that Jessica was able to see from another perspective and adapt to it, she has shown herself to be teachable in so many ways and not afraid to ask questions and learn more, so much more that she might conclude that she has been wrong on something. I want to be like my girl when I grow up; strong in opinions but flexible enough to change. There are so many times in life when we may think we have it all figured out, and it can be tempting to shut out all other possibilities, but doesn’t that really mean that we don’t want our way to be challenged because we might not have all the answers? I want to come to the table with my portion and be willing to share what I believe to be true, but open to another way to see the same thing. This act doesn’t take away from what I believe in the least, but can strengthen it or test it or change it.

I think my girl is right where she needs to be.



On the way home, taking a route that I drive 1-2 times a week and noticed something was different at an intersection. You know how you walk into a room and know something has been moved, but you can’t immediately put your finger on what it was? Just like that. I kept driving and it actually bothered me, it felt like it was important to remember and notice.

And then I saw it in my mind; an old house with a dilapidated porch rotting on the front, dirt driveway, no sign of life in the building but almost always a vehicle, maybe an old truck, was parked out back. Lots of junk and brush around the house, what may have once been bushes or landscaping. Then I remembered seeing someone walking towards the house one time. Man or woman? Had to be a man, no…..I don’t remember. But today this house, this structure was completely gone, as if it had never been there. In its place was a huge field ready to receive the grocery store that will be built there in the next few months.

As I put more distance between myself and this scorched earth, I tried to understand why it mattered to me. I have moved many times over the years, lived in 9 very different states, and each place holds so many memories. Each house was important. There are some that I haven’t seen in decades, that would be difficult for me to even find. But they are no less important, and neither are the memories made there.

I felt a strong need to remember that old house that was just torn down. It was so gone, there is not even evidence of the dirt driveway anymore. Nothing to show that it was just there. But I know that it was, and I am certain there is at least one family, if not several, who made memories between those walls. Yes, you mattered, and so did your time there.

Nothing that seems permanent in this world truly is. It can all be torn down, removed and replaced. But the very things that can seem so iffy – love, memories and relationships are what cannot be taken away. Just because life changes the details, doesn’t mean it never happened. I want to remember what is truly important and take notice, and feel the loss when something that was so real is gone.

Photo credit: John Clayton


Special Effect

superpower Have you ever noticed how some people seem to get the good seats every time? The best parking places, tables at a restaurant, or just the permission to go where others cannot? I am not one of these people, but I am married to one, and it’s a great perk to join in with a person who has access. People allow him to go behind the curtain, or upgrade his hotel room, or tell him about some great deal that is only available to some.

And then there are those who can simply suggest an idea and before long it becomes a reality. You know this type; excited and excitable, kind of a cheerleader who can motivate the hearts of others. A person who has influence tends to have people around them most of the time, just waiting to see what’s going to happen next. We have a child with this tendency and it is fun to watch the wake.This person is often successful in sales.

There is another type that seems a lot like one with access, but it is the person who is often let in to the hearts and minds of others. This one is allowed to speak into people’s lives because they have permission to do so. You will often find this type sitting off to the side of a large group, talking with one person at a time, either giving encouragement or saying hard things.

Finally there are the people who take command of a situation, who speak in proclamation, not in questions and make statements with confidence. People rely on the one with authority to take a stand and point the way, bringing clarity and either relief or frustration to those around them. This person is often polarizing because they have the ability to see all the issues and comment on them while others are still processing the situation.

Which of these tendencies describes you best? This isn’t really about personality, it’s more of the effect you have, and I believe these are areas of strength that we use all the time, but not always for good. Have you noticed that you are allowed information or special circumstances more than most? You probably have access. What can you do with it? Do you find that you need to be careful endorsing ideas publicly because others are taking notice? That sounds like influence. What can you do with it? Maybe you are the type who people open up to and share their deeper hurts or fears, even those you don’t know well. That would be permission. What can you do with it? Or perhaps others rely on you to lead the charge and speak for them. This could be authority. What can you you do with it?

We can use these super powers for good or for our own good, it’s a daily choice.

New Year, New You


It is that time again, the season to be thinking of all the ways to improve in life with New Year’s resolutions, when in reality maybe we need New Life resolutions. I don’t need lofty goals at the beginning of the year that will just make me feel bad about myself when I don’t reach them; I need attainable goals that I can set for a lifetime and keep. It reminds me of the difference between going on a fad diet and simply changing my eating for a lifetime. Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. Here goes:

I will strive to have daily time with God through prayer, reading, and believing that He is right along beside me throughout my day (LOVE GOD)

I will strive to take care of myself by being intentional with food, exercise and relationships (LOVE SELF)

I will strive to cultivate intimacy with my guy, respect and trust with my teens, deeper relationships with a few and wider relationships with many (LOVE OTHERS)

Who’s with me?

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And love your neighbors as you love yourself. Matthew 12:30

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