Beauty in the Chaos

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Beauty in the chaos.

It’s my favorite thing about Asia. Well, that and the food and the weather and the people and the pace of life and the value of relationships and the really good coffee. All of those are my favorite. But this one is perhaps my most favorite.

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There is chaos and there is beauty. An American with virgin-Asia eyes would most likely see only filth, garbage, and broken roads. They would see the absence of road rules, or at least of any of them being followed. They would see peeling stickers on every cement wall along with dogs and chickens and children on the streets where we don’t think they don’t belong. It really can be chaos, at least where our Western preferences are concerned. And yet, there is so much beauty. Hidden amongst the chaos is a stunning and awe-inspiring beauty that leaves you breathless. The trick is, unlike the always-in-your-face beauty of the West, with its manicured lawns and perfect law-abiding drivers, the beauty here is often hidden. Only those with eyes wiling to slow down enough to see get to drink of its delight. The flowers growing over the garbage. The bird landing on the jumbled wires. The crooked smile of the elderly woman offering hot coffee from her make-shift shop on the side of the road.

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Of course, there is the obvious beauty as well—the gentle sway of the palm trees, the birds of paradise framing the doors of buildings, the put-together beauty of the petite jet-black haired woman sitting next to you. But it’s the hidden beauty I long to catch a glimpse of. I know that if I just open my eyes and see, if I look beyond the dirt and the poverty and pot holes that could be mistaken for a swimming pool—if I look beyond those, true treasure is found.

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And isn’t this really how life really is? Pain and hurt and dissapointment make their presence known every chance possible while the beauty goes unnoticed. The radio plays song after song about being sad, broken, and without hope. We put our mental playlist of tragedy and despair and unmet expectations on repeat, all the while the real beauty in life is there, hiding subtly, framing not just our doorways but also our experiences. The beauty…it’s there. Everywhere we go and in everything we do, God gives us glimpses of His goodness. He whets our appetite for the beauty of a sinless world that needs no light but Christ Himself. If we look past the garbage and the broken bottles and the dogs digging for a bite to eat, we will see beauty.

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And isn’t that what we as believers should be? Beauty amidst the chaos? The world lets out its cries of distress and hunger and horror and they long for the beauty. The world longs to find something beautiful, something poking out from underneath the chaos, something beautiful to frame the doorposts of life. They don’t know it, but they are longing for the light of Christ and the true hope that only He can offer. But where is the beauty they so desperately long for? Where are His image bearers? Where are those of us who have been summoned by a Great Grace to let our lights shine? Are we hiding under baskets or sitting as cities on a hill? I know where I spend most of my time—muffled light buried beneath a pile of self-centeredness and comfort-driven ideals.

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It’s been a year and a half since I have walked these dirty Asian streets and searched for the beauty. As the sun made its ascent over the acacia tree in the corner of the soccer field, I refilled my cup with bold Filipino coffee, its steam rising in the yellow light, and I stepped outside the gates of the guesthouse. Camera in one hand, coffee in another, I walked. And I looked. Just as the faded and peeling street signs boldly proclaim the names of precious jewels, the sights and sounds of this same-but-different Asian city boldly proclaimed its own precious jewels. As I saw the flowers and the birds, as I heard the rhythmic swishing of the brooms of the women clearing the sidewalks, as I breathed in the humid morning air, I was reminded of how much Asia reminds me of home. Not my home in America, but the home in my heart—the place that is filled with all sorts of sin and garbage and bitter disappointments and yet bears glimpses of HIs goodness, holding out hope for the life to come.
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Headed to the Philippines


Bags packed, passport dusted off, hotels and transportation booked. My babies have been held and kissed and told they will be missed. My heart is full of expectant wonder and trust in a God whose ways are not my ways and whose thoughts are not my thoughts.

For eleven days, I will dwell in what we hope to be our future home. I will see the sights, ask the questions, take the pictures. I will visit the ministries, experience the school, and drink in the beauty that is Asia.

It wasn’t an easy decision to leave my family for two weeks. It was so difficult, in fact, I purchased and canceled tickets multiple times. How does a mama leave her little ones and fly across the world?

Well, she does it because she has an amazing husband who encouraged her to go on behalf of the family. A husband who knows his wife’s heart speaks in real conversations with real people and with taking photos that show the world through her eyes. A husband who is more than competent and confident in caring for the little ones, making sure school gets done, putting food on the table, and having fun through it all. (And there is a big sister that will ensure little sisters’ hair gets brushed occasionally!) That’s why a mama of six can get on a plane with only one passport instead of eight, with a bag full of books and journals and dreams instead of sippy cups, diapers, and chewing gum. She has a good husband and a good Father.

As I spend this time in the Philippines, learning about what will — Lord willing — be our home starting next summer, my prayer is for a vision for how our family, with its unique perspective, personalities, and passions, will find its place in Davao. Our conviction and desire is to be serving full-time with Wycliffe Bible Translators and play our part on a team that longs to brings God’s Word to a world still waiting.

I’ll be visiting this space quite frequently while I am away. Come for a visit, will you?

The Moment My Life Changed

I still remember hearing those precious words for the first time: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). As a young girl, guilt over sin threatened to overwhelm me. I was utterly convinced that there was no way God could love someone like me. He may be good and loving, I thought, but those character qualities go out only to the deserving. But when I heard those words, the walls around my twelve-year-old heart started to crumble. The love I so desperately desired and sought after was right there waiting for me. God would take my sin and remove it so far from me that it could never be reached again. That was the moment my life changed.

What if I hadn’t heard those words? What if the condemnation and complete unworthiness I felt were never remedied by the power of God’s Word? That hot summer day, a new eternal life began, all because I had access to God’s Word.

I admit it…this road to working with Wycliffe and gathering a group of prayer and financial partners has not been easy. There are days when we have wanted to give up, to quit, to enjoy the wonderful life of church, school, and fellowship we have here in America. However, it doesn’t take long for us to be reminded that hundreds of millions of people have never had an experience like I have, nor the thousands of experiences I have had since. These people, the almost 1800 languages in the world, are waiting for God’s Word. They are lost in their sin, their condemnation, their feelings of complete unworthiness. I think about that moment back in 1989 when God’s Word breathed life into my heart, and I know we have to go. We have to do everything we can to ensure people are given the opportunity to experience the new life that God’s Word brings.

What about you? Can you remember some of the moments when God’s Word spoke to you in a way that changed everything? What would your walk with the Lord look like if you never read your Bible, never heard a pastor speak from the Bible, never read a book written by someone intimate with the Bible? You have been given so much! With over 400 English Bible translations to choose from and thousands of Bible-saturated books and sermons at our immediate disposal, we have been entrusted with a great gift. We have been asked to be stewards of God’s grace.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10-11.

How will you steward your gift? We invite you to partner with us in our Wycliffe ministry as we strive to steward our gifts to bring the hope of God’s Word to those who wait. What can you do?

1. You can pray for us. Above all, we need people committed to praying for us. We need prayer for strength, wisdom, perseverance, boldness, and trust.

2. You can partner with our Wycliffe ministry financially. We need regular, monthly financial partners to help us meet our minimum monthly budget (set by Wycliffe) and be freed to serve in the Philippines. Click here to become a monthly financial partner.

3. You can sign up for our newsletter so you can stay up-to-date on our ministry progress and plans. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.

4. You can pray about going. It doesn’t matter what your professional qualifications are. Teachers, pilots, doctors, nurses, IT professionals, accountants, translators, managers, and mechanics are needed all over the world to aid in the 2000+ translation projects already underway and to give hope for the almost 2000 projects still waiting to begin.

P.S. I realize that I have never mentioned in this space that our assignment with Wycliffe has changed from Papua New Guinea to the Philippines. We announced it in our newsletter, but not here. I apologize. Lord willing, we will be serving at Faith International Academy in Davao, Philippines.

O Fill My Cup


When we were younger, my sisters and I would sing a song. I don’t know where we learned it or why we sang it so much, but I know we loved it. I had actually forgotten about it until this summer when my younger sister and her family came for a visit and something prompted one of us to sing. A twenty-year rewind happened immediately:

O fill my cup,
O fill my cup, let it overflow
O fill my cup,
O fill my cup, let it overflow
O fill my cup,
O fill my cup, let it overflow
Let it overflow with love

O baby fill it up

Fill it up, and let it overflow
O fill my cup
O fill my cup, let it overflow
O fill my cup,
O fill my cup, let it overflow
Let it overflow with love.

A few weeks later, out on a walk on a cool morning, the sun’s rays peeked out from behind the trees. The birds sang their morning song and the dew sparkled on the grass. I felt full.

The only way to overflow is to first be full.

Being a mom, wife, friend, church member and (insert any other role you play) requires a lot from you. We live in a world full of needs and we have the ability and honor to play a part in meeting those needs. As a mom especially, the demands are never-ending. Someone always is in need something and we are the ones appointed to be the solution. It can render the strongest woman helpless and hopeless.

As I walked that morning, with the sky lit orange and the fresh pine-scented air filling my lungs, the song from my childhood once again came to mind. As I was emptying my heart and myself before the Lord, the surrounding beauty of creation was filling me. In forty-five minutes, my cup went from empty, to full. From empty, to overflowing.

Because my heart had been filled, it had the capacity to overflow onto others. My heart was more tender toward my family, my words were softer, my thoughts more honoring.

There is a difference between people taking from you and people receiving a spontaneous overflow. I would much rather have love and kindness flow onto my husband and children than have to reach deep within a depleted soul to find the last few drops of goodness and kindness. I spend a lot of my day reaching, but oh how wonderful it is to have my heart so full of God’s truth and beauty and wisdom and love that I can’t couldn’t do anything to stop the overflow even if I tried!

The trick though, mamas, is to find what truly fills your heart. A Starbucks addition or a Netflix binge might give the appearance of fullness, but they won’t last. Truly filling our souls requires a much more intentional breathing in deep of beauty.

For me, my heart starts to fill in a number of ways:

teaching/public speaking
being outdoors
reading (non-fiction)

I believe God created me in a specific and unique way with the honor of sharing some of the facets of His character. He created me to love His creation, to love the written word, to find joy in cooking for my family and for others, for moving my body and soaking in the joys of the grandeur of a sunrise and the meticulous details of a spider’s web.

For you, it might be music, painting, decorating, lifting weights, visiting the sick, walking your dog, going to the symphony. God created you in such a way that soul filling is possible and is necessary. If we want to meet the interminable needs of those we encounter, we must learn to fill. Learn to fill so you can overflow.

A few years ago a friend said to me, “When you have your camera and are taking pictures of nature, that’s when you feel close to God, isn’t it? That’s your time of worship.”

She was right. What she said to me started a process of me learning deep truths about who God made me. I began to see the correlation between the amount of heart-filling I had done and how I acted as a wife, as a mother. No longer did my long walks, obsessive photo taking, and love for making pretty food seem selfish (a notion that had previously filled me with much guilt). Instead, I learned that when my heart was full, only then did it have the capacity to overflow onto others.

What about you? What brings you into a state of worship, of awe, of heart-filling? What fills you so you can overflow? What do you do or experience that makes God look as magnificently glorious as He really is?

Go do it.  Go for that run. Attend that play. Read that classic. Stop wasting your time on the mirages of binge watching and social media. They might have their place, but soul filling isn’t it. Invite that family over. Bake that cake. Listen to that album. Collect those gorgeous autumn leaves. Fill your unique and God-created soul. Fill it with beauty. Fill it with grace.

O fill my cup, let it overflow
Let it overflow with love.

Me and King Dave


I did something a little bit different today. Some of my friends were politely asking me to do some more audio posts. I did one yesterday and then for some reason, after editing, it was silent. I took it as a sign 😉
Today, I have the written post below and the same post in audio format for those who prefer it that way. You can download or just hit the play button below.




I’m a little like King David: I think we share an emotional profile. Either we are literally gasping for breath in awe of God’s holiness and awesomeness or we’re gasping for breath, crying out to God, asking Him how long He will forsake us.  There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground — no slow and steady breathing — for me and King Dave.

I know I don’t want to change who I am (I am learning deeply about how to be content with who God made me), but the emotional pendulum swings that are part of my makeup can be exhausting.

I worry. I fret. I wonder, “What if?” And when I worry and fret and wonder, the emotion builds up and overflows in ways I am not proud of. It often involves avoidance and living in the pretend world of “tomorrow” — the fictional land where all problems get fixed, work gets done, and restitutions are made.

This week, the pendulum has swung…a few times. One minute I can be so confident in who God is and who I am and my faith in unshakeable. The next minute I sit, tears rolling down my cheeks, wondering where God is. I ask, “If He loves me so much, why I can’t see it or feel it?”

I was talking with a friend yesterday and I told her that the only thing that got me through this past year was the Spirit’s use of Scripture in my heart. It’s the only way I get through any day. When I am tempted to shake my fist and ask God why, His Words wash over my heart.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. —James 1:2

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? —Romans 8:31

I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. —Revelation 2:2-3

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. —Galatians 6:9-10

And on and on it goes.

Because my soul is fortified with God’s Word, the Spirit can (and does!) use it to fight for me, even when I don’t have the strength to fight for myself.

The sword of God’s Word is our only offensive weapon in this battle of life. If we want to win, we must not merely defend ourselves, but also truly do battle with the forces that work against us.

But we can’t do battle without our Sword. I could never fight the emotions and confusion and questioning that rages within me without a weapon. God’s Word, read daily and repeatedly and systematically is the weapon we need. It fights in the coldest storms and the darkest nights.

As we look toward the busy holiday season with all its festivities, beauty, and excitement, let me encourage you to look toward the Word of God, both the written Word and the Word Incarnate. The longer I live, the more convinced I am—in my heart as well as my head—that God’s Word is what each of us needs most. It’s what the world needs most. It is the answer to poverty, social justice, education, parenting, marriage, worry, doubt, fear, health, obesity, work ethic, finances, and love.  We sit at our computers complaining about politics on Facebook or we sit glued to the TV enamored with the charmed life with others while our Bibles are covered in a fine layer of dust, mirroring the much deeper layer of dust on our hearts.

I used to want to do great things with my life. I have so many dreams and ideas and hopes and plans. They aren’t bad, and I hope I get to do some of them someday. But I know, more than anything, my life is about getting God’s Word into people’s hands and hearts.

Many (1800+!) languages around the world wait for God’s Word to be written in a way they can understand. And that’s why our family is with Wycliffe Bible Translators, doing our part to ensure people have to wait no more.

And many people here in the U.S., with our 400+ English versions to choose from, cry out to God in the midst of battle for Him to come and rescue them while their weapon sits unused, unsharpened. And that’s why I won’t stop talking about God’s Word and encouraging others to find their sustenance in “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” I can think of no better way to spend my life than encouraging others to take up their sword and FIGHT!

 So what about you? Do you worry, question, and fret? Do you wonder where God is? Do you ask God what He is doing in your life and when He is going to come rescue you? I won’t say the battle is easy. Even with our weapon life is a tough, tough assault. But won’t you at least try? Won’t you at least use what you have?  He will fight for you. He will fight for me. Won’t we let Him?

Oh, and the photo? Well, this post was going to be about a walk our family took last weekend so those were the photos I had ready. But as often happens, I start typing and realize God has something entirely different to say through my words. I just go with it. 

All Things

Dwell on these words. Really let them sink into your heart.

That’s what I have been doing for the few weeks since I read them. I wrote them in my sketch book. I have looked at them, played with them, and created with them.

Anything you want to know intimately requires time. This is true of all things. If we want to know a person well, we spend time with them. If we want to know how to play a musical instrument well, we practice. If we want to know how to take photos, we spend many hours shooting and learning.

If we want to know God’s Word, we must spend time with it. For the past four years, I have been intentional with daily time in the Word. I have read and reread and then reread again. I want to know it well.

As much as I know and understand the importance of knowing God’s Word as a unified whole, I also see the need for me to know its individual parts. To spend time with them. To be acquainted with them.

And that is why I have been writing God’s Word. Each day I take time to grab some pens and my sketch journal and look at the words intently, individually. I write them, letting their weight fall in different places. I roll the words over my tongue, my hands, and my heart. I want to be intimate with the Word of God. When 1800+ languages don’t have a single word of Scripture in their own language, how can I not show my gratitude for God’s Word by spending time with it?

Back to a few weeks ago.

I read this verse. I wrote it down. I looked at it over and over. And I let it sink in.



This verse says that ALL THINGS are of Him. This means that ALL THINGS come from God. The things in the natural world, things manmade, things created and evolved and changed. ALL THINGS are of God. Without Him, nothing would be here.

This also means that ALL THINGS within us are of Him. Our personality, our gifts, our talents, our resources, our time, our health, our children, our dreams, our problems, our trials, our successes…ALL THINGS are of Him. ALL THINGS originate with Him. This is where true humility is birthed. When we recognize that not one thing is of us, only then can we be truly humble. We can’t let ourselves be fooled into thinking we did anything. The hard work that brought us success, even that is of God. The intelligence that brought you opportunities, even that is of God. The hours studying or practicing or preparing, even those are of God.


Not only are ALL THINGS of God, but also ALL THINGS are through God. Not one thing comes to you without it first going through God. Think of all you have: your house, your cars, your kids, your job, your friends, your time, your money. ALL THINGS come from Him and through Him. It ALL passes through the hands of God. You have it because He allowed it. This is also true of the things you do, all the successes you have, all the trials you encounter. They are from Him and they go through Him. Nothing goes from here to there without God being the middle man (and the beginning man and ending man, as we shall see.)


ALL THINGS are of God. They are through God. And they are to God. ALL THINGS we do or give or perform or build or create or dream or execute aren’t to anyone but God. I don’t use my gifts for others, they are for God. I don’t do my duties for others, I do them for God. And I don’t give to others, I give to God.  ALL THINGS are to Him.

That’s why we can give a little one a drink of cold water and have it count as love toward God. That’s how we can do all things for the glory of God.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ —Matthew 25:35-40

How—if we truly let these words permeate our hearts—can we not be changed? In our thinking? In our doing? In our giving? In our loving? In our grieving?

All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being —John 1:3

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. —James 1:17

Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. —1Corinthians 8:6

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. —Colossians 1:6

You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you. —Nehemiah 9:6

What do you have that you did not receive? —1 Corinthians 4:7


The Perfect Mom

Some mom moments are better than others

Some mom moments are better than others

I smelled the nail polish. I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from, but the scent was strong.

Yes, I had given my seven-year-old permission to paint her nails. Usually I would supervise an activity like that (due to the time it takes to get nail polish off of legs, arms, and other body parts.) But she is seven and she’s spending more time each day as a young lady rather than a little girl. I trusted her to do as I said.

I gave her one instruction: when you are done, put the nail polish away.

I continued making dinner. And then I saw it. The dark floors had camouflaged the evidence, but the leash hanging from the dog (no doubt thanks to the four-year old) made a trail of blue that was hard to miss. Nail polish pooling on the wood floors, the leash painting a series of blue swirls and whirls through the kitchen.

Nail polish. On the floor. With no top on. BLUE.

“KATIE!” I called. Er, um…screamed.

I was sick. I was tired. My throat hurt so much I could barely swallow. My husband was out of town and the rain hadn’t stopped falling in a week and the natives were restless. Of course this is the day the blue nail polish would decorate the house.

She came upstairs and I gave her the look, one she didn’t yet recognize.

I’ve gone to tremendous effort to stop any and all yelling in our home. I fail occasionally, but the truth of it is that God has given me victory over the tone and volume of my voice. I rarely yell.

Many years ago I yelled at one of  my kids for something. It might have been Alaina and she was only four or five. I yelled and I let my eyes sear into her. And what I got in return was a look of sheer terror. From my little girl who made a little girl mistake.

And in that moment, I vowed to learn to take control of my mouth. Yelling is not okay in our home. Not for me. Not for the kids.

And yet there are times, like when the rain won’t stop and my feet are cold and my husband is out of town and sickness has invaded our home and the blue nail polish is everywhere, yes, there are times the volume of my voice matches the frustration in my spirit. And shamefully, I let the words fly unrestrained.

With blue swirls around my feet and covering the dog leash, it felt good to yell. The sinful part of me wanted my little girl to know how upset I was and I was thrilled to let the emotions find a place to land. “I gave you ONE instruction!” my voice bellowed. Then, when the words ran out and the tears on my girl’s face covered her freckles, I couldn’t let enough be enough. We sat in silence as I made her watch me clean up every last bit of that nail polish. I scrubbed harder than I needed, just to make a point.

And in that moment, I realized once again why I need Jesus.

I’m not a perfect mom. Not even close. But that’s not the goal, is it? No one is the perfect mom. None of us get it right all the time. We can (and should!) work harder. We need to learn to love our children (Titus 2). We need to take control of our mouths and our spirits. I hope I am a better mom next year than I am now. I want to be better, but I have no hope of being perfect.

I let my emotions cool down, simmering slowly rather than a full-on boil. I finished dinner, fed the little ones, took some ibuprofen, gargled some salt water, and climbed into bed. A few minutes later, I paused my show and called for Katie. I didn’t say anything. I just pulled her under the covers with me and I stroked her hair while we watched. When our show was over and it was time for her to brush her teeth, I pulled her little body—her weight reminding me she isn’t so little anymore—up onto the counter and I looked into her eyes.

“Katie, you made a mistake. And so did I. But I want you to understand that the goal isn’t to never make mistakes. It’s just not possible. If we never made mistakes we wouldn’t need Jesus. And oh how we need Jesus! He died to pay for these mistakes of ours. We should try to be better, but until we’re in heaven, we won’t be perfect. You WILL make mistakes. You’ll make lots of them. Part of it is because you’re just a kid and the Bible tells us that foolishness is all tangled up in your heart. Part of it is your are just human, like me. You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to choose to do wrong. And mom will probably get upset. I don’t expect you to be perfect. It just won’t happen. But we have Jesus. He will help us make better choices and fewer mistakes and He has already paid for the mistakes we just can’t avoid. I’m so sorry for yelling. I was upset but I didn’t handle my emotions correctly, did I? I LOVE you. You know that, right? Nothing you do can separate you from my love just as nothing we do can separate us from God’s love. There is not one thing you could do that would make me stop loving you. Nothing. I might not be happy with you and there might have to be consequences, but that is not the same as me not loving you. You’re my girl and you always will be. Will you please forgive me? I was wrong. I made wrong choices. I’m sorry.”

Eyes bright blue and tears streaming down, she hugged my neck tight. And I knew…this is it. This is what this parenting thing is made of. Like marriage, it’s two sinners leaning into Jesus. Because without Him, it’s all just a big mistake. But with Him, we can offer love and forgiveness and say, “I’m sorry.” I will never be the perfect mom. But I have the perfect Jesus and He lives within me, enabling me to act like Him more each day.

My kids see it all. My good side, my bad side, and all the other sides I try so hard to hide. They know I mess up. They know I make mistakes. But they also know their mama will come to them, offer a sincere apology, and promise to love them always.

Maybe that’s what it means to be the perfect mom.

I Almost Forgot

©PreparingtheSoil | Almost Forgot


“…stop rushing to get the to do list done because it never leaves. The kids do.”

It was a rough summer. Even after I started feeling myself again, we had some other issues that took up most of our time and energy. The unrelenting North Carolina heat didn’t help matters much. The summer is mostly a blur as I try to figure out what exactly we did.


We’re normally a happy, do-stuff-together type family. We love to camp, hike, and be outside. We like to let the kids get dirty and have fun. We like days with no schedule, yummy-not-so-good-for-you treats, and finding critters that the kids beg to bring home as pets.


But this summer?

I almost forgot.


I almost forgot what it felt like to be me. To be us. To let the kids run free, get wet, and be kids. I almost forgot what it felt to walk a few paces behind my family as my camera captures the little moments I want to remember forever. I almost forgot what it was like to be intentional in just watching. Watching my kids love each other. Help each other. Encourage each other. I almost forgot about all the little ways they show their love and how blessed they are all to have one another. I almost forgot about the way their individual personalities shine through during unstructured play: the adventurous ones being adventurous, the introverted one enjoying the peaceful scenery, the little ones entertaining themselves with the same activity over and over (and over).

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On Saturday, though the to-do list was longer than anything that had any hopes of being accomplished, I knew we needed it. We needed time. Time together. Time outside.


We chose something close: the local river that runs through the county. An access point is just ten minutes from our home. We walked. We let the kids play. They got wet and dirty and full of sunshine. I watched them and I remembered. I remembered who we were and what fills our souls. I am so glad I remembered, because I almost forgot.

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Oh the bliss! May I never forget the little moments. The watching. The seeing who my family is.

 As another writer so eloquently mentioned:

“…stop rushing to get the to do list done because it never leaves. The kids do.”

Catching Up & Cake Batter Truffles


I appreciate all the sweet words from my last post. I am still feeling great and like myself again. Clearly there was something going on even if the doctors couldn’t find it. But it’s gone now and I am S.L.O.W.L.Y catching up on eight missing months of my life as well as trying not to fall too far behind on life now. Throw in a whole lot of moving and settling into a new home and you’ve got some long days and longer to-do lists. But I’m having fun and loving the old me!

One thing I did more of over the summer as I started feeling better was cooking and baking! I really love working with food. I love trying new recipes and I love sharing old favorites. We had a pot-luck type meal to attend a few weeks ago and I wanted to put together something easy since we were packing up our old house. My kids LOVE these easy and yummy (and not very good for you) cake batter truffles. They are the perfect choice for when you need something easy but you want it to look beautiful!


Cake Batter Truffles


  • 1 cup white cake mix
  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • dipping chocolate (white or dark)
  • sprinkles/topping of your choice


  1. In mixing bowl, combine first three ingredients. Mix well. If the mixture is too dry, add a bit more condensed milk. If too wet, add more cake mix. It should be a fairly firm and sticky texture that will allow you to roll into balls.
  2. If you're in a hurry, roll into one-inch balls. I use a cookie scoop for this to ensure similar sized balls. If you have time, put mix into the freezer for 10-15 minutes to make it a little easier to work with.
  3. Melt dipping chocolate according to package directions. With a parchment paper lined cookie sheet next to you, dip balls in chocolate and place on cookie sheet. After 4-5 balls, add sprinkles (you want to add topping before the chocolate starts to harden). Keep working until all the mixture is in balls.
  4. Place in refrigerator or freezer for 20 minutes or until firm.
  5. Wow your family and friends!

Happy and Healthy


Our bodies are an amazing part of creation! I am often in awe at the intricacy and creativity with which they were fashioned. Books about the functionality of our brain take up a great deal of space on my Kindle. We are fascinating creatures woven by a fascinating God!

However, along with the beauty of function and form, we are also faced with life in a fallen world, within which are imperfect bodies. These bodies are temporal and we can be confident in eternity we will have a new and perfect one. But for our time on earth, we are bound to the body we have been given, along with its many imperfections.

We get sick. We get hurt. Our bodies have the ability and tendency to separate from our minds and we can get locked in a chasm between what we want to do and what we are able to do. And it is in that chasm that I spent eight months.

During the first week of December, something in my body went wrong. I still don’t know what. I went from being myself — busy but happy — to being a shell holding a once-happy heart and a once-vibrant mind. For eight months, I woke up to and went to bed with the headache. My personality —  the things that make me “me” — was gone. Janet had disappeared and her shell was in pain.

I found little pleasure in my usual sources of joy: mothering, writing, baking, photography, hospitality. My spirit was strong and so I tried. But with each attempt the emptiness echoed louder.

A headache. Depression. For eight months.

During this time, I was acutely aware of a split between my body and spirit. My soul was strong and satisfied. My heart was happy and secure. And yet my body betrayed me. I knew there was something wrong. I felt I was watching my life from the outside, so desperately wanting to jump in and fix whatever was plaguing me.

I visited doctors, chiropractors, dentists. I took antidepressants and muscle relaxants and lots of vitamin D. I prayed. Others prayed. I spent time in the sun. I read. I researched. I sought counsel — medical, emotional, and spiritual. And yet, for eight months my imperfect body betrayed me.

And then.

Just as quick as it came on that first cold week of December, it lifted one hot week in late July. One day, I woke up with my headache and the empty shell of my personality. That same day, after God said to whatever ailed me, “Enough,” I went to bed pain and anguish free.

In a moment. In an instant. In a twinkling of an eye. The pain was gone. Hope was renewed.

That was almost six weeks ago, and I have not had one day of pain since. A week later as we were packing to move, I couldn’t find my medications. I have never tried looking again. I don’t need them. I am back. The real Janet, the all-too-intense, all-too-idealistic dreamer is back.

Happy, healthy, and even more dependent on the grace that is to be revealed.

His thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways are not our ways.

HIs ways are perfect.

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