Resonance

My son plays cello. No matter that we owned two violas, he wanted to play cello. Over the summer he took lessons because I wanted him to have something to do while his older siblings scampered around to jobs, hiking trips, and places with friends in cars.

Hearing him practice is a delight.

Once, his teacher moved one lesson online and a weird thing happened. While he was playing a scale, hitting the notes just right, the teacher’s cello all the way across town began picking up the sound waves and resonating a note. Through air, wires, chips, internet lines, then back through chips and wires and air that note traveled and replicate itself in the other cello.

When you think about it, that’s pretty incredible. Sound and music is one of the ways its hard for me to get out from under believing in the existence of God.

That resonance is what got me. One note moved through the air from one object and caused movement in another object.

Today I read about Peter at the last supper and then at that fateful campfire where he denied his friend, his teacher, the One he believed was the savior of his people.

It struck me that Peter didn’t know what was in himself. He was so sure that he would be loyal, that he would never… That all others might but not him.

And then he did the thing.

And Jesus turned and looked directly at Peter in that moment. When Peter met His gaze, he remembered what Jesus said would happen, what Peter so confidently denied could ever happen.

We don’t know anything about that look Jesus gave Peter. In my humanity I see raised eyebrows with I-told-you-so vibes because that’s how it works with me. Those moments when something comes true that I warned a kid about it takes everything in me not to raise my brows and waft off a distinct vibe even while I hold back the actual words.

What’s even more interesting is the interchange a few hours before. Jesus says to Peter three astounding things:

  1. Satan asked to mess with all of the disciples to see what will shake out
  2. I (Jesus) personally prayed for Peter that your faith would not fail
  3. I predict you’ll come back

I mean, tons of questions here for me. Did all the disciples get sifted or just Peter? I assume Jesus said ok? Jesus prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail yet Peter did fail.

And! Jesus seems to know that Peter will fail or why else would Jesus tell Peter that “when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers”?

That kind of blows my circuits when I really think about it. Did one of Jesus’ prayers not get answered with a yes? Of course we know that in the end Peter did betray Jesus but he also turned back and strengthened others.

Did Peter’s response right after this affect what happened? Did Peter’s following confident assertion that he was ready to go with Jesus to prison and death reveal that Peter needed to know more about himself without which he would not be ready to strengthen others?

There’s so much we don’t know but so much to know as well.

For me, I hate that so much of ministering to people involves living out of weakness, failure and suffering. Why does it have to be this way? Why is it that to follow Him, I must see and embrace those aspects of me that feel like nothing but failure?

I believe it relates to resonance. That phenomenon where some chord strikes the chord of another.

Could Peter ever lead the way Jesus displayed to him without a colossal failure followed by repentance and then restoration?

I don’t think so. Peter’s failure led him to an experience of restoration that transformed him into the humble servant Christ taught him to be.

And I don’t believe I or anyone can connect with the soul of another without the experience of being fully known in that moment of failure and then fully accepted and forgiven there too.

Those who are forgiven much love much, right?

And so it is that embracing our weakness is the striking chord that resonates in the souls of others who also seek the truth.

Walking the Blind Side

I posted this almost seven years ago as we navigated my dad’s terminal brain tumor diagnosis. This week   did not permit much time to write. As I perused past posts, and I contemplated the surprising escalation of conflict in Europe too near where my brother and his family live, I felt it eerily appropriate.

We all walk blind in this world and must always learn to follow.


His plate sat there half full of scrambled eggs as he reached for more. I watched as he spooned some more on the right side. Then he ate the right side leaving a line straight up the middle. Eggs on the left. No eggs on the right. I turned the plate and it was like a magic trick.

The brain is fascinating. When signals don’t come from the eyes, it fills in the blanks, interpreting from what it’s learned. My dad doesn’t realize he can’t see his left side. That means walking into walls and furniture, knocking things over.

Now he often needs help on his blind side to prevent a fall or running into things. It’s a lesson in humility, I’m sure. For me it’s a lesson in service.

I’m constantly watching and adjusting on the blind side, learning his limits, walking the fine line between parent and child. Sometimes I tell him like it is, and he follows. Other times there’s no leading him anywhere, only hanging on for the ride. Like when he wanted to do a pre-op snow angel outside the hospital.

Walking the blind side is a privilege, but he’s a man not used to being guided. He’s led where he doesn’t want to go. Like Peter in the Bible.

When you were young , you would tie your belt and walk wherever you wanted. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will tie you and carry you where you don’t want to go. John 21:18

At this point we’re not tying him up. Its a tempting option when he’s home alone and inclined to test limits that are steadily changing.

He’s not the only blind person. I’m as blind as my dad about what’s next. My mom less so, but this is the first brain tumor in our family. We pray it’s the last.

None of us wants to walk this path. We’re learning and we’re taking faltering steps into unknown territory. I’m growing wary of what I can’t see ahead, like my dad.

Follow Me. That’s the big question, bound on this path, will I follow Jesus? Will I go where I don’t want to go, because that’s where He’s going? What does faith look like on this path?

I will walk the blind side again today and tomorrow and for a long time to come. At least, it will feel long. Doctors say it will not be nearly long enough.

God knows the path. Will I follow?

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Rest: Leaving the Land Alone

Lately I’ve been contemplating a sabbatical, the strange option in my job to take three months of restorative rest from the day to day responsibilities of caring for souls. In our hurried world, this feels so out of the ordinary and strange that I’m a bit embarrassed its an option.

Who couldn’t use three months to restore their soul in our world these days?

But I have this option and I’m figuring out if I should take it. If I take it, when do I take it? Also I must talk through that time with someone beforehand which is a good idea because taking 3 months away could be difficult. That’s like 3 months of being unmoored from a central part of my every day life…for what purpose?

The last thing I want is heightened anxiety for three months because I can’t figure out how to rest!

I looked back at some key passages today about rest because rest was a big part of what God’s people were to do after they came out of Egypt and oppression. I guess rest wasn’t really a part of their enslavement because it sure was hard for them too.

How fitting that candles, illuminating lights, are part of ushering in Sabbath rest for God’s people…

In fact they never really did rest the way God told them to and God had such a problem with it that he forced them to go on a long trip to a foreign, deserty place to rest for the few decades worth of Saturdays they missed.

But it wasn’t only Saturdays, one day a week, they were to rest. Every seventh year, God’s people were supposed to just… not farm the land. That is stunning. They trusted God to provide a double crop on the 6th year. Then, that seventh year they trusted God to provide enough from what came up on its own to feed them until the next year’s crops came to harvest.

Not surprising that they mostly failed to live that out. It’s pretty radical.

As I think about sabbatical for myself, I anticipate disorientation, doubt, identity crisis, and anxiety. I also expect surprise, identity formation, and trust to build as I notice the budding of new growth from richer soil of belonging to Christ rather than performance for Him.

It seems somewhat wrong to plan a sabbatical or feel that it needs to produce something. Isn’t that antithetical to the true meaning of sabbath rest? To just be?

But I can imagine my B.C. self standing in my fields that I chose not to work looking over at my neighbors fields all neatly furrowed and planted…and feeling mightily tempted to grab my plow.

To rest is so counter-cultural that I need support and encouragement to stand firm in waiting and trusting God to provide. I am most needy for Him to provide my identity apart from my usefulness and productivity in this world. Instead of seeing planning a sabbatical as striving to make rest productive, maybe it is more that I need to cultivate my heart and time for rest, knowing my heart will gaze upon the striving of the world and be tempted to define myself again on my usefulness.

Expecting new growth to happen in the sabbatical waiting is truly different than striving to produce that growth.

As my book mentor Eugene Peterson says,

“Maybe if they [pastors] would all go into the wilderness for three months, not read their emails, announce a moratorium on all conventions and conferences, take a deep, long, prayerful time of doing nothing–maybe some equilibrium might return.” (Letters to a Young Pastor, 140)

By equilibrium, he means a groundedness that is not rushing to fix every crisis while missing the opportunities right before us. To be present in the life and people God has for us in the every day is what Eugene senses that we miss when we do not take sabbath rests.

As I write, I realize I’m sensing the value of the gift of sabbatical rest more and more. Coincidentally, we are approaching 7 years in our current ministry assignment…

What is it about the number seven!?

I’m curious to know from my readers, what struggles do you experience with rest? How does rest provoke your soul?

Past Year’s Reads

Reading without caring about time remains at the top of my list of indulgent behaviors. When I can crack a good book and just read late, late into the night I know I’m relaxing.

I’m learning this concept of “Total Work” that we live under especially in the western world. A philosopher named Pieper wrote about how people are transformed into workers and nothing else. As I read about it, I realized how much I live in this reality of feeling like I always need to be productive even in rest. Reading is one activity that combats this tendency for me, especially reading fiction.

Every night I read fiction. There are so many books out there about our world and how to live in it (see that total work thing in play?) but fiction inhabits my nightstand as a means to just enjoy life. Good fiction hopefully!

So, what good books can I recommend these days? Oh so many!


A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens:

I ended my year with some Dickens, which I have not read for 20 some years. He’s just a lot, you know? But A Christmas Carol felt like an appropriate way to put my heart into the holidays. It did not disappoint or fail to convict either! If you haven’t read this one, I’m sure you can pick it up for a song at the used bookstore or on Kindle. Set it aside for Christmas 2022.


A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles:

How do you make a life within the walls of a hotel? Sounds a little too familiar, doesn’t it? The main character is sentenced to live out his days within a luxury hotel. He ends up leading a very full life within those walls, impacting many lives through some tumultuous times in Russian history. A delightful read.


Imperial Woman: The Story of the Last Empress of China by Pearl S. Buck:

This telling of Chinese history from the imagined perspective of the Empress enthralled me. Some of the themes of grievances are still in play today in world events. If you want to understand some of the tension between China and the west now, this is a more engaging method than some others. The loss of position and prominence for this empire and the efforts to regain a footing on the world stage explain so much of what we see in the news today. Maybe it can be seen with a little more empathy after reading this book.


Letters to a Young Pastor by Eugene Peterson and Eric Peterson:

Ok, this one is not fiction. It’s more a memoir but its so good I can’t keep it a secret.

Eric Peterson compiled these letters his dad sent him at his request to learn more about his dad’s interior thoughts on pastoring. Eugene fleshes out so very personally what it means to live out the unique role of shepherding others spiritually in this day and age when so much is so impersonal. Each chapter takes us into Eugene’s mind, heart, and struggles to form out in real time how to live as a “faithful failure.”

Every time I read the sign off at the end of each chapter, I think of my own dad who was also so proud of his kids and so invested in our lives and life work. Sitting with Eugene is a little bit like sitting with dad again.


The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles:

What can I say? When I read one book by an author and resonate deeply with it, I look for other books they’ve written. My kids gifted me this book for Christmas and I enjoyed it. An almost modern day hero’s journey, the story follows two brothers as they strive to make a life of their own in the world. Who do they need to keep in their lives? What does loyalty look like? It is a worthy read!


Beyond these books, I read quite a bit of suspenseful fiction of the unreliable narrator sort. Trying to figure out what the heck was going on was pretty entertaining for a good chunk of this past year. They are edgier and may keep you up at night but sometimes that’s pretty fun.

Was it good fiction? I’m not sure! The Death of Mrs. Westaway and One by One by Ruth Ware are my top recommendations in that category.

I’m stumbling back into writing on my blog so if you got this far, you get a gold star for plodding through my rusty, low bar attempt to just get words out again. Thank you!

Leave any book recommendations you think I should check out in the comments please.

Re-entry

We walked around the busy grocery store, my sister-in-law and I, carefully following our list and eager to escape back to the quiet lake house retreat. She just returned to the US after 2 years uninterrupted overseas. You know why, pandemic.

Grocery stores are among the most overwhelming re-entry experiences. The choices are different, the quantities are measured in different scales, and in America the abundance can be overwhelming. Choices become more difficult. Mentally tallying the dollar signs from the foreign currency taxes the brain. At some point, you just give up and dump it in the cart resolving to care another day.

America is the land of opportunity. The opportunity to have it your way. To customize. To choose. To never see the back of the grocery store shelf. To not have to rework your menu mid shopping trip because multiple things are unavailable. To not experience as many social restrictions or curtailed freedoms.

Except for this past year and a half.

In many ways, 13 years of life overseas prepared me well to encounter a lack of toilet paper, a reworked menu, an acceptance of social restrictions, and jumps through bureaucratic regulations. We signed up for difficulty when we made the decision to live overseas.

We painted a lot of things this last year, including our front door, a portal to a different place…like re-entry!

Life in lock down reminded me of some aspects of life overseas and I relished the time to jump off the treadmill of the busy American lifestyle so many warned us would come when we moved back to America. After 5 years of life on this side of the Pacific, we’d definitely become increasingly busy and committed. And not just us, but our kids had commitments on top of ours.

Jumping off the treadmill was a gift in many ways. I read through the Bible a couple times because I didn’t have to get anyone off to…well…anywhere. We spent a lot of time together as a family, something which I ached for as our kids got older and busier. It felt like a gift.

But we also lost friends, grieved the unfairness of life, felt guilty at times for having enough, wrestled with how to relate to others during a particularly divisive time in a country that we already struggled to fit into after 13 years living away.

Now life is picking up again. We are faced with re-entry in a wholly different form than ever before in our lives. Alongside an entire world, we are all wondering what we are entering.

Because its not really re-entry. Its entry.

I feel this push and pull about what is to come, what we are entering. I don’t want to go back to the insane schedule that challenged us trying to find time together as a family. But it’ back. The school extra curriculars are laying out time intensive schedules.

Everything is starting up and I’m feeling a little like my sister-in-law in the grocery store. Overwhelmed. Stressed. And feeling like I just need to dump some stuff in the cart of life and try to figure it out later.

But this isn’t cereal or potato chips. Its time and energy and cultivating a life in dependence to God in ever changing circumstances.

Re-entry and entry take time…mostly time to think, feel, and align ourselves with what following Jesus looks like in new seasons of life. And besides a world opening up…kind of…I also have a daughter a year away from graduating. That alone is catching my attention and heart.

Another sign that I am entering, not re-entering. My life will change drastically soon.

So maybe you can relate to me on some level with our current times or maybe not. I have a feeling that many of us may need a little more time to do things we once did so effortlessly before a global pandemic.

For those that have not experienced the grocery store scenario of the newly returned expat, let me tell you it’s ok. It’s normal. It will take time. It will make you angry, sad, confused, insecure, and probably many other things to navigate the new world with its new challenges.

But in all that unsettledness, I’ve learned that following Jesus is the surest foothold through rocky life transitions. Something that all that reading the Bible brought into focus this past year.

If you’re looking for a first step, I suggest the Gospel of John and reading about Jesus who pretty much shook up every life He encountered.

As always, thank you for reading my thoughts and musings! I’ve struggled to write this year in the midst of so much…well…just so, so much of everything. I resolved today to write and break the silence and I’m so thankful you got to this point in my ramblings!

For the love…

It’s all about Peter this spring. Peter, the hot headed follower of Jesus. The one who chopped off a guys ear. Jesus put it back on FYI and I have some questions about what that looked like in real time…no…slo-mo!

I would really like to see that in slo-mo.

I have expectations for heaven and one of them is slo-mo video recaps. It’s going to be so much better than the best tiktoks, right?!

So, Peter. I get Peter’s personality at times. I want quick fixes, zaps that would put everything to rights. Maybe not lightening but that would be cool sometimes. Expedient.

Peter got it wrong a lot with Jesus and Jesus doesn’t make sense to me sometimes either. He goes against all we think should be true about life and our world sometimes.

Like suffering, that makes no sense to me at all sometimes. The concept of suffering having meaning and experiencing joy in suffering just really stumps me. I avoid suffering unnecessarily. If I can be comfortable, I choose that path. Peter was suffering avoidant, too, and Jesus really called him out on that.

I mean really called him out! Jesus used the word Satan as I recall.

In 1 Peter, though, there’s a real change. Peter, the quick-fix, suffering avoidant snob is a different man. Now he’s telling Christians that were driven from their homes to rest secure as they suffer for their faith.

Old Peter wanted to call down lightening to resolve problems. New Peter is saying wait, hope, let suffering do its work removing the bloat and impurities from our lives.

Contrary to the positivity all around us today–Peter owns the suffering they experience, we experience. It’s real. He owns that its hard. He acknowledges that we cannot afford to be passive in suffering but we must be sober and alert and it matters what we do when we suffer. But just thinking positive thoughts doesn’t make it go away.

And more surprising, all this suffering and waiting and hoping results in something otherworldly–greater love. When we submit to the trials and the suffering, the goal is not that we become more with-it, disciplined, and productive people.

Peter says we become more sincere lovers of other people.

So, if you, like me, are chaffing under the weight of the things that are not right, under the displacement we feel in the world, Peter has got a lot to say to you too.

Old Peter is pretty fun to read about but new Peter. New Peter is the one I want to spend time with. He’s the one that gives the true filling of courage for hard times.

He has lived it. He loves. He became the shepherd Jesus charged him to become when Peter was coming out of his greatest failure.

So, as we live it too. As we face all our avoidant, quick-fix tendencies and live under our circumstances with that living hope inheritance with Jesus, we will be changed too.

And we will love. And won’t the world be better for it? And won’t Jesus shine?

Stepping into this New Year

As news unfolds this week, there is hope mixed with uncertainty and suspense. A vaccine is rolling out but cases rise as a new variant of Covid spreads. Just when I want to rely on the future looking a certain way, uncertainty prevails yet again.

New Year’s resolutions feel ridiculous after a year that upended so many of our plans. What do we do with this milestone this year? 

We recently saw the movie News of the World, which I highly recommend. Tom Hanks and Texas. Really, y’all, what’s not to love?

I read the book a couple years ago and loved it. The movie does it justice.

Its beautiful, heart-rending, and important. This year we can all identify with the losses of the two main characters. With the dangers they face in a hard, cruel world. And with the importance of relationship and connection.

It’s a must-see.

One main theme is about what to do with who we were and who we are now. Do we look back and hold it all or just keep moving forward in a straight line?

In some ways, a little of both is necessary.

While this year may feel like an anomaly, and hopefully it is, it still bears weight on what we are and what we will become.

It shaped us and will continue shaping us for years to come. Looking back on the past year has never felt so important.

Read on to see what that practice has looked like for me a couple years ago…


I hardly ever make it to midnight awake. Usually I roll over about midnight, disrupted by the rumble of a few fireworks, then drift back to sleep. The day dawns and I wake to find myself in a whole new year that feels just like another morning.

Except that most new years days I spend a chunk of time reviewing the last year. I took up this habit one year when we lived overseas and I spent a quiet, sunny morning going over Michael Hyatt’s 7 Questions to Ask About Last Year. I still remember the chair I sat in, it was that powerful.

Since that year, I look forward to reflecting every new year. Lest you be afraid this somehow leads to those resolutions, be afraid. Somehow, these questions and reflecting on the past year just naturally lead to revealing what’s important to take with me into the next year.

Maybe it’s also the coffee that kicks in about the same time, but I end up holding onto a few thoughts about what I want the next year to include, if it’s up to me.

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Remembering is a funny thing. I lived a lot of life this last year, and forgot quite a bit of it. Memory to me feels like I’m holding a bunch of groceries at the grocery store like when I think I don’t need a cart. I can only hold so much and my brain just drops things  that it can’t keep holding onto. Sometimes they are the right things, sometimes not. It can be startling what I forget and remember.

Why? Why do I remember some things and forget others? I’m not sure. But its a reality. Reflecting on the past year is a means to much grace and mercy. I look into the year and lay out the events and experiences before the Lord and myself and sift through them. Are there themes? Regrets? Disappointments? Joys? Always, yes.

This year, I stood back and looked and saw a year of great adventure and drama. As I sorted through it, I saw more clearly the reality I’ve felt as the year drew to a close. It was a roller coaster year…again. I’m ready for a little boring. A bit less adrenaline.

Extensive travel, romantic drama, medical issues, rich family time, and ministry to others defined our year. It was a good year. It was also a full year with lots of ups and downs, twists and turns. So many good things but also a few very real, hard, new things to navigate.

In the middle of it, it has been easy, maybe even necessary, to just pack experiences in my bag of memory and do the next thing that needs doing. The problem with that is that I need to look up every once in a while and see the bigger picture, the distances traveled, the goals ahead, the victories and sorrows along the way.

Like a rest stop on the journey, I need the time to reflect so I can acknowledge God’s hand in it all, and recognize that He has been with me the whole way. That He sees and He cares even if it’s not all worked out, resolved, or better. I can have joy when I look back and remember what He did work out too.

What distilled over the course of my morning was that…

  • writing is still very important to me. I regretted not keeping it up this past year. I need to make time to write.
  • exercise took a back seat for different chunks of the year and that was necessary. It is now important that it not stay in the back seat.
  • making peer friends in this season of life is challenging because of the many demands on life. I greatly value having good friends and I need to keep moving forward in cultivating friendship.

Notice there’s not a lot of specific goals. I don’t really have a word for the year. But, now I have 3 areas of life that I know are important to me that need some attention. It helps tie a tiny, imperfect bow on the past year and move a bit more confidently into a new year.

If you end of spending the time to go through this process, please share what came out of it for you!

On George MacDonald

Walking on Sunday nights and Monday mornings is exciting. Monday is big trash day in my neighborhood, the day when all you cleared out of your house over the weekend gets set on the curb for pickup.

Among the treasures I’ve accumulated from these piles are: a 6 person tent, a kids life vest, a trash can for the garage (ironic, right?!), and books.

My kids don’t like to walk with me on Sunday nights or Monday mornings.

On day, two whole boxes of books called me over to the side of the road. As I searched through them, I gleaned the giver was probably a professor with lofty literary leanings who was interested in Christianity. I picked up a couple C.S. Lewis books, one of which was a book of George MacDonald quotes compiled by Lewis.

The preface gripped me as I delved into the book back at home. C.S. Lewis admired MacDonald. Wow. Just that one fact drew me in deeper. Anyone C.S. Lews counts as a mentor deserves attention.

As I learned more about MacDonald and read his quotes, I met one who saw deeply into the nature of people across generations. George saw the world, the times, and the people in it with a lens honed in on God’s heart. He knows God and cuts through all the add-ons we tend to accumulate in our lives.

Its always surprising to me when a person from a culture and time period so different from mine can relate truth that transcends to the here and now. How do they do it? I think it has to do with the nature of truth, it transcends.

So, here are a few of my favorite quotes from a novel I read by George MacDonald entitled A Daughter’s Devotion. Doesn’t that sound so Victorian and romantic? In reality, it is like meeting a mature sister and her father and following their life of fath.

I hope you enjoy some of my favorite George MacDonald quotes from A Daughter’s Devotion:

Some will answer that you must have either distrust or self-confidence. "You must have neither," I reply. You must follow the truth and in that pursuit, the less one thinks about himself, the pursuer, the better. 
Let him so thirst after the truth that the dim vision of it occupies all his being, and leaves no time to think of his hunger and thirst. Self-forgetfulness is the healthiest of mental conditions. One has to look to his way, to his deeds, to his conduct--not to himself. In such losing of the false, or the merely reflected, we find the true self. (p.44)

But what is the use of the most powerful of medicines while they stand on the sick man's table? What is the mightiest of truths so long as it is not believed? The spiritually sick still mocks at the medicine offered; he will not know its cure. (p. 214)

In God alone, who is the truth, can creatures truly meet. (p. 267)

Jesus is the only man who is no exception. We are the exceptions. Everyone but Him is more or less out of straight. (p. 286)

Happy is he who has learned the gospel according to Jesus, as reported by John--that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all! Happy is he who finds God his refuge from all the lies that are told for Him and in His name!  (p. 220)

Love and marriage are of the Father's most powerful means for the making of His foolish ones into sons and daughters. But so unlike, in many cases, are the immediate consequences to those desired and expected, that it is hard for many to believe He is anywhere looking after their fate. And the doubt would be a reasonable one, if the end of things was marriage. But the end is life--that we can become the children of God. (p. 260)

All God's gifts are a giving of Himself. (p. 240)

We may spoil gratitude as we offer it, by insisting on its recognition. To receive honestly is the best thanks for a good thing. (p. 45)

For me, this photo evokes that idea I get with George MacDonald of seeing something beautiful from a long way off.

My 4 Holiday Best Practices

I’d love for my holidays to be magical and nostalgic this year like a Hallmark commercial but, in reality, I’m pretty wiped out and its still a few weeks until Thanksgiving break.

College students I talk with face longer than normal school breaks too. So many of us are home so much more, its come up that we’re a little nervous about more together time.

I’m not sure where you are as you anticipate the holiday break, but I’m already thinking through what might help my break feel restorative…or maybe just not totally suck.

So, here are a few lifelines I’m holding on to over the holidays in this very tumultous year.

#1: Read.

Fiction is always important to me. I read fiction every night. Lining up a few really good books for the holidays is a high priority on vacations and holidays. Good fiction helps me put worries and to-do lists aside at the end of a day and mentally unwind.

And when I say good fiction, I’m saying all fiction is not created equal. Remember that episode on Friends where Joey reads Rachel’s novel? He’s spot on. There’s plenty of good books out there that satisfy our God-given hunger for good stories.

Check out my top ten all time favorites!

#2: Ritual.

Ok, that sounds weird. I’m not into empty or evil rituals. I am into grounding patterns for my day that can reset my world a little bit. This is especially helpful when there is no outside schedule I laid out for me to follow, like during holidays when school and work are on a back burner.

One ritual I plan to keep is waking before my kids to a cup of coffee and reading my Bible. Another is taking a walk before it gets dark each day. These activities are not new and carrying them on helps me process through my days or prepare for them.



#3: Relax.

For the past few years, I’ve set aside one day of personal vacation before my kids are released on holiday break. On that day, my focus is to do indulgent things like watch a movie at 9am, wrap presents in the living room, and eat what I want to eat from a restaraunt even if I already have a sensible meal in the fridge.

Last year I assured my husband I loved and liked him and politely asked him to make himself scarce that day. He is so gracious and made himself scarce that day. It is a wonderful day. I’m looking forward to it this year so much!

Its my version of Treat Yo’self.

#4: Review.

I always spend the early hours of January 1st engaging my soul with some reflection on the past year. This year is one for the books, literally! If there was ever a year to reflect on, this is surely at the top of the list.

I know there are a few ways to do this so pick one that works for you. My favorite is Michael Hyatt’s Seven Questions to Ask About Last Year. Something about sitting in the quiet, remembering, grieving, celebrating, and recording my thoughts on my year helps me face the new one.

If you haven’t tried an exercise like this, consider setting aside some time to reflect and record.


Will more time at home be a gift after so many months of more time at home? I’m trusting that God always has more good in store for all of us in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.

I’ve enjoyed the Lord in each of these practices in different ways and I’m all about sharing the wealth! So let me know if you adopt one. I’d love to hear how it went for you.

Modern Fortitude

The word fortitude popped into my brain this week. Not a word I use much. Sounds rather Puritan and stuffy, not characteristic of the fun and spontaneous image I like to curate.

I love words but sometimes when they come to me, even I don’t know exactly why or by what path I retrieved them. Why fortitude? A word I rarely use. A word most people rarely use these days according to my brief internet search.

I’m not even reading Jane Austen right now. Jane is a likely person to use a word like fortitude, but I’ve been reading twisty, suspenseful thrillers the past month or so.

According to the internet, a bastion of truth, the word fortitude has gone from 0.0013% usage in 1840 to 0.00013% usage today. Its darkest days were the 1990’s where it dipped to 0.00006%. I’m not awesome at math but I know another zero after the decimal is a big decline.

It begs the question, was fortitude ever really popular?

Is it popular now? I’m not sure fortitude will ever rise to the best lunch table at the local high school, but current circumstances guarantee a rise in usage. Just this blog post should raise the graph line a speck!

So, what does it mean? I actually had to look it up. Even though I am using this word to describe what I need right now, I’d been going on intuition more than precise definitions.

For-ti-tude: courage in pain or adversity.

And, there it is folks. What we need for these times. This is what I am asking God for these days…courage in pain and adversity. Fortitude.

Because we are all in some degree of adversity having experienced radical changes in our daily life and behavior from how we greet people to challenges figuring out how to live and work the way we were used to living and working.

I think of the British with their reputation of the stiff upper lip. Is that what it means to have fortitude? Many times that is what is expected of those that display fortitude. Literally, they’re lip doesn’t tremble because tears are imminent.

They don’t cry.

Well, I’ve failed then. I’m not courageous in pain or adversity.

Ha. You must know me well enough, I hope, to know that I reject this flat, emotionless view of fortitude.

Fortitude, I believe, is equally displayed in the tearful, plodding act of living out the life God gave us for this day. This day, this year, it is a pandemic, political strife, relational divisions based on ideologies, and all the collateral damage that lies in the wake.

Its not doing just what your emotions tell you to do, but walking forward in life by faith that God through His Spirit can give you just what you need for what His path for you entails.

Notice, I say His path for me. Not my path for me though the sweetest days are when my path for me and His path for me are one and the same. Those moments, because lets be honest, they’re usually not days, are full of meaning and purpose and joy even as they can also be filled with pain and adversity.

So, yes, I am in need of fortitude, not the stiff emotionless upper lip variety but the continuity of courage that life always requires, no matter the season.

But when times are universally difficult, hopefully words like fortitude can give us a sweet reminder to rely on Jesus to provide the courage and hope we need to walk, often tearfully, through pain and adversity.