Category Archives: A Few Thoughts

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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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.”

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.

Why Yes, I Did Change My Header After Four Years…


It was time. It might change again. If you on a blog reader, just click here for a peek.

It matches the header on my photography site.


I plan to have more of a presence on both sites. After the craziest roller coaster of a ride this past year, we might just be coming upon some semblance of normal. We still have to move (it got pushed back a month), but I’ve been feeling better, I’ve been cooking a lot more, and I’ve been much more me lately.

Like most days, my Bible time today offered me fresh grace and hope and a reminder that He is always with me.

“He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.”

“Here my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed.”

“Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and You heard my voice. For You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the floods surrounded me; all Your billows and Your waves passed over me.”

We went through fire and through water; but You brought us out to rich fulfillment.”



It’s Been Four Years


It was 2011. I had been praying about my word for the year. Just as the calendar turned to January 1, God gave me my word: ROOTED.

A usual, I didn’t know what God would choose to teach me through it over the year, but I knew the context. Immediately, this verse came to mind:

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” — Colossians 2:6,7

At the time, I so wanted to be built up in Christ. I had deep longings for service, for opportunities, for His direction. Although I didn’t understand it then, He was telling me, “You must be rooted first.”

It’s helpful to think deeply for a moment on the purpose and function of roots. An agricultural society would understand the significance more readily than our culture that scarcely knows how to grow anything other than mold in the fridge (myself included!)

Roots serve multiple functions:

1) Roots anchor the tree. Without the roots, without the deep penetration into the soil, the tree could not survive. What we see when we look at a beautiful tree is only half the reality. The other half lies beneath, doing the work that allows the beauty to be exposed.

2) Roots take up minerals and water from the soil, transforming into life-giving sustenance for the tree.

3) Roots store food for use in later growth — in the trunk, branches, and leaves.

Over the course of the year, God showed me what it meant to be rooted. He taught me that the reason I so often felt beaten down was that my roots were shallow. I would let them grow for a while and then pull them up when waiting caused me to lose interest. He taught me that without being rooted, I could not be nourished. Yes, of course, I would survive temporarily, but wilting and dying was inevitable. He taught me that the more I rooted, the more I could store for when the heat and drought came.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream. and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield.” — Jeremiah 17:7-9

About halfway through 2011, my roots began to take hold. Beginning when I was twelve years old, God’s word fascinated me. I remember my spirit being quickened the first time and in the thousands of instances that followed, I had no trouble believing that God’s Word was truly living and active. However, wanting to read God’s Word and actually doing it are two very different things.

I’ve shared my story before, the most important resolution you can make,  and what my Bible time looks like on a regular basis.

But today, I am reflecting on what regular and systematic reading of God’s Word over the course of four years has done. Never has the benefit been more clear to me than over the last six months.

As I mentioned before, I didn’t expect the wave. And after feeling better for a few weeks, I certainly didn’t expect another wave to come crashing down. And yet, it did. Already weary from before, I scarcely had breath to keep going.

“If Your law had not been my delight, then I would have perished in my affliction.” — Psalm 119:92

I read that verse a few days ago and it was all very clear to me: had I not found my delight in God’s Word and intentionally rooted myself in it, I would have perished. Whether that death would have been physical, spiritual, or emotional…I don’t know. I don’t want to know. What I do know is that God’s Word has sustained me. Is sustaining me. It is my life. My strength. My song. My deliverance.

That is because Jesus sustains me. He is my Life. My Strength. My Song. My Deliverance.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and Word was God…In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.” John 1:1-5

As the wave recedes, I am thankful once again that I have rooted myself in the Word. I am standing strong with joy in my heart, even as I tend to my emotional and mental injuries. This is only possible because I have been well-nourished and well-supplied for the future.

Is it any wonder we have given ourselves to the cause of the Bibleless people? If I know the One Thing that can truly save and satisfy, how could I be loving to do anything but work to ensure everyone has it? And how could I be loving to not encourage those of you who already have it to saturate yourself in it? There is no alternative to growth, to survival. The 180,000 million people who wait for their very first word of Scripture in a language they can clearly understand need it just as much as you who have to blow the dust off your cover every Sunday.

Why not start today? Why not open those pages and let the living word of Christ penetrate your heart and spirit. Become rooted. There is nothing more beneficial you could do with your time, both for now and for eternity.

Off the Face of the Earth

©Janet Phillips_may18_2015_web-35

No, I didn’t fall off the face of the earth. Though at times, I wonder…

Jason and I had a week away together — our first whole WEEK away since we had our first child in 2003. It was wonderful. We kept it simple; we went camping.

We talked. We worked. We prayed. We planned. We rested. We walked. We took pictures. We remembered why we chose each other so long ago and why we still choose each other today.

©Janet Phillips_may18_2015_web-56


Being married is a good thing. It’s a hard thing. But it’s a good thing.

We’re now catching up on life and getting ready to spend some time with our dearest friends. It might be next week before I am around these parts again.

©Janet Phillips_may19_2015_web-14



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