The Healing Effect of Peaches

Every August this part of my story surfaces for me. And although it’s been four years, the grief lives in me, in different ways. I’m bringing this post up from the archives because I know so many can identify with this pain. You are not alone.


December 2013

It usually hits me in the middle of the night when the house is quiet and everyone else is sleeping.

It burns in my throat, and my chest gets tight so I can’t breathe.

The tears roll back into my hair.

I put my arm over open my mouth and try not to sob.

And then I start to get a headache, and I tell myself I can’t do this – can’t get a migraine from the grief.


On August 23rd, 2013 we cried because there was no heartbeat on the monitor.

On August 24th we cried as we said goodbye to our boy whom I had carried in my womb for 18 weeks.

In September I cried because my belly should have been big and round. But it was empty and flat. Well, as flat as it has been after having three babies. I couldn’t help but imagine it an empty black cave.

In November, I cried on my oldest baby’s birthday. Because a dear friend had her baby that day too. And I was fine. I was happy. So happy for them. But I couldn’t stop crying as I stood in the hot shower thinking about bringing them a meal, wanting to hold this brand new baby girl. Is it appropriate to ask for a private moment with the baby so you don’t have to bawl with an audience? “I just need a second with your 5-day old infant.” Probably not. Why do we insist on saying we’re fine when we’re not?

I held her. And I didn’t cry. In a way, the weight of her ministered to me. I sat by the fire with her mama and daddy, next to the lit Christmas tree, and held her warm heaviness. It was what I needed.

Like when her mama had written me four days after we said goodbye to Emanuel

So maybe this is a completely crazy thing to ask you right now, but for the last three days I’ve been canning peaches and praying for you guys. Today I just felt like I should ask you if you wanted to learn how to can peaches…

Can peaches. Do I want to can peaches? Sure. Will it be awkward? Maybe.

So we canned peaches. And at first we didn’t talk about it. But little by little, like the skin we pealed from 7 quarts of slippery sweet peaches, I let it out.


Grief is interesting. It comes and goes as it pleases with no care as to where you are or with whom you might be. Sometimes you think you won’t be able to hold up in a situation without losing it. And you’re fine. And other times it blindsides you, overwhelms you with no warning.

Like that time in the grocery store – my first time to the store a week after we came home from the hospital. I had just checked out, collected my bags, and as I was turning to leave, I passed a young mom with a newborn. You could tell it was a fresh one, tucked in the baby carrier. The floodgates opened. I ran to the car, and before I could stash my groceries in the trunk, I was all-out sobbing. Sobbing in the Northland parking lot. I just drove. And wept.

Holding each other up through grief is funny too… There is no one-size-fits all. I might need to talk but someone else might need to be quiet.

It’s not normal to ask someone to can peaches 3 days after they give birth to their stillborn baby. I would never have had the courage to ask. I would have pushed away the thought and convinced myself that it was a weird thing to do. But my friend asked. And I will never look at peaches the same. Peaches were a balm to my soul.

I didn’t know what to do with others’ grief before. I used to avoid it. I didn’t know what to say or do.

Here’s what I know now:

Make the meal.

Sit in the silence.

Let the person talk if they want to.

Ask even though it’s awkward.

Cultivating What Matters

This weekend I sent out a quick email asking the question – What are you struggling with the most right now? I’d still love to hear from you if you haven’t answered! (If you’re reading this from your email, just hit reply!)

The two big things that came back to me from that question are a bit what I expected, but wanted to confirm:

  1. We feel like we wear a lot of hats and it’s hard to keep everything going with energy and joy (ie. laundry, working outside the home or working from home, being a good wife and mother and friend etc…)
  2. We are tired and are struggling to stay well physically.

For sure these two things go hand in hand. And I totally relate with both. While I don’t have all the answers, I love exploring solutions, and trying new things. So, I wanted to talk about the first thing a lot of us seem to be struggling with. Breaking it down, I think what we want is to cultivate what matters.

Isn’t that right? We want to do the best we can with what the Lord has given us. We want to:

  • create a comfortable home where everyone has underwear and socks to wear :)
  • succeed at the work we do (whether at home or working outside the home)
  • have meaningful relationships in which we’re intentional with our time
  • fulfill our purpose

Ok, that last one is like, oh, no big deal… just fulfill my purpose! But I know each of us has been given special things to do – passions and dreams to follow, things the Lord has put in us. Maybe it’s serving meals at your church, making art, writing a book, taking action for those who have no voice… I don’t know what it may be for you, but I bet with a little digging, you would be able to uncover what it is!

But here’s the problem. Usually what is (or seems) urgent is what gets done. Not what is important. At least for me, what gets done in a day is what is screaming for my attention. So those things that are quieter, not so obvious, can be put off – do get put off.

Things like spending time in prayer or in the Word, playing a game with one of the kids, reading a book we’re interested in, learning a new skill or doing a craft we love doing. How do we accomplish the things that need to get done in order to function and also make time for things that matter to us?

Well, I have something I’m working on to help us accomplish everyday things and keep track of them… I’m kind of a planner and goal-setting nerd :) I’ll be sharing that soon and hopefully you’ll love it!

But for the other piece, I wanted to share another resource that I’m really excited about. It’s something that I’ve personally used and found transformative.

They’re called PowerSheets. They’re created by a dear woman named Lara Casey who is one of the most down-to-earth, relatable women I’ve gotten to know on the Internet! She’s a believer, a gardener, a businesswoman (founder of Southern Weddings magazine!), a mom, a fellow IF: Gathering host 😀 (you know I have a soft spot for IF: Gathering!)

Cultivate What Matters -


Lara just recently changed the name of her shop to Cultivate What Matters. And this is her heart for PowerSheets and the other resources they provide there. Instead of chasing perfection in our households, in our businesses, in our lives, she wants to help us chase PURPOSE.

I could tell you all about this with my words, but I wanted to SHOW you, so here is a short video about what this looks like (if you’re reading this in your email, click here to view the video!):

I’ve used the 6-month set of PowerSheets, and I’m looking forward to getting the yearly version in my hands! When I have been able to get what is important to me down on paper is has helped me so much in making decisions about what to say yes to, and what to say no to. What to focus on, and what to save for another time. I feel so much more settled and peaceful.

Here’s the exciting news!! The 2017 PowerSheets make their debut TODAY! (If you can’t wait, click here to check them out! It’s ok – I’ll still be here :) )

PowerSheets are different than a lot of goal-setting paths because:

  • it takes you through a guided process to put down on paper what matters to you, why, and helps you determine how to get there
  • there is a “tending” process where you check in on your goals, or what you’ve purposed to do daily, weekly and monthly
  • there is a 6-month and yearly option
  • the yearly option incorporates the seasons!! I love this because I appreciate being in tune with the rhythms of the seasons!
  • you get access to two private communities to join with others who are on the same journey!

PowerSheets -


A little more “official” details about them:

  • 12-month dated monthly workbook with January 2017 start month
  • 176 pages of inspiring quotes and worksheets
  • 2 pages of colorful stickers
  • Inside pages measure 7 x 10 inches, overall workbook measures 9 x 10 inches
  • Full color tabs and seasonal Goal Refresh pages
  • Sturdy, yet flexible spiral binding
  • Water-resistant, flexible cover with rounded corners
  • Free bonus materials, including a “Word of the Year” card, encouragement postcard, and inspirational desk card
  • Worksheets include the Goal Action Ideas, Monthly/Weekly/Daily Tending Lists, Relationship Tending, Cultivating Gratitude, Big Dreams page for big ideas, What Fires Me Up, Things I Want to Learn/Things I Learned, and more!
  • Includes exclusive access to the exclusive Cultivate What Matters community and PowerSheets Facebook Group

Who is with me? I am so excited to be even more intentional and purposeful in 2017, and I’m hopeful that this is something that will help us all! I hope you’ll join me!

Click here to take a look at PowerSheets! And I’d love for you to come back and tell me which you chose!

P.S. This post contains affiliate links, so if you do make a purchase you are supporting the blog at no extra charge to you :) I love this product and recommend it to serve you!

Being ‘There You Are’ People

I’m a missionary kid, so I grew up traveling around the country with our family, presenting the ministry in France and raising financial support. There is one event Mom and my sisters and I were invited to that I will never forget. It was a mother-daughter tea at a church. We all got dressed in our finest and showed up not knowing anyone. Instead of seating us with other women and girls from the church they placed us at a table all by ourselves. I remember feeling so uncomfortable and wanting to cry. Mom looked like she would burst into tears, but instead just smiled at us and tried to make light of it. We felt like outsiders. Like we didn’t belong. Like no one wanted us.


Have you ever felt like that?


This fall I’ve noticed a trend in myself. It’s not a new trend, but I guess I’ve noticed it more and have been able to mull it over a little more.


When we have been invited somewhere I get excited for whatever the event is, and then I get a feeling in the pit of my stomach that feels a lot like fear. Butterflies, but not the good kind. I wonder: Who will be there? Will I know anyone? Will I feel weird? Will I dress right? Will people think I’m (fill in the blank with any number of insecurities.)


Often I try to protect myself. Who can I invite to make sure I have someone to talk to? What can I wear to boost my confidence? Let me make sure my makeup is just right so I feel put together. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. There are a surprising number of times in social settings when I feel totally out of place. I feel like everyone else has a friend or at least someone to talk to, and I’m on the fringes. I usually feel like leaving right about then. Or crying. Maybe you can relate.


Whether it’s a birthday party, a business gathering, a church function or a family get-together, I think there are a three different ways we can go into a situation.


Self Absorbed

Here I am! Look at me! I’m the big deal! We can become so focused on setting ourselves up to look good and appear “with it” that it becomes all about us.
Philippians 2:3 in the New Living Translation says “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.”


Clearly, making ourselves the center of attention is not a healthy way to go into these situations.


Thinking We Are Nothing

No one wants to talk to me. I’m a nobody. No one wants me here. This is just plain unhealthy. These things are lies. If you have these thoughts in your head, capture them right away! Ask yourself if you are thinking things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8) and then remind yourself of what is true!


There You Are!

This concept was shared with me recently, and it’s also presented here: What if, when we walked into a room or prepared to attend a function we thought about others? What if we prayed about who was going to be there and how we could serve them and make them feel welcome?
What if, instead of saying “Here I am!” we said “There you are!”
 Wouldn’t that totally transform how we go about… well… everything? Isn’t this the essence of the second greatest commandment – to love your neighbor as yourself? (Mark 12:31)


This was an instant load off for me! The burden is no longer on ME to make sure everything thinks well of ME! There is freedom to be friendly, to reach out, to introduce myself and give myself in service to my neighbor – whoever they may be.


I genuinely feel like I can breathe better.


This past Sunday our family was at a local church in town that I had never been to. My husband was asked to bring the message as the majority of the congregation, including the pastor who is a friend of ours, were at a church retreat. I knew a couple of people, but not many, and I was transported back to those support-building years when we would visit a different church every weekend. I could see the anxiety in my kids’ eyes. What do we do? Where do we sit? Who do we talk to?


There was a young woman sitting on the other side of the room all by herself, and I had a feeling the Lord was nudging me to say hello. I’ll be honest, usually I would say “No way, Lord. She’ll think I’m stupid. She’ll think I’m presumptuous – a guest introducing herself to someone who comes here all the time…” But I couldn’t shake it. So I crossed the aisle. And maybe it was a little awkward at first, but it turns out… she was visiting too. And her husband was sick so she was there that morning because it was close by.


So you see… You just never know who you might bless… Who you might welcome… Who you might serve… when you say “There you are!”


What if, instead of waiting to be welcomed, instead of waiting to be noticed and brought in from the fringes, we poured ourselves out for others? What if we recognized that we’re all broken up, bruised and busted and we all secretly want to be known and loved?


As Ann Voskamp says, “what if instead of waiting for good enough things to happen to us we could be the good thing to happen to someone else who’s waiting?”


The Broken Way - Ann Voskamp
I was blessed to receive an advance copy of Ann Voskamp’s new book, The Broken Way, and today it launches into the world.

If you, like me and like, well, all of us, have been hurt or bruised or feel broken, I commend this book to you. Perhaps it can be a light on your path like it has been on mine.

Easy Peasy At-Home Dinner Date

Steve and I try to go on a date a couple times a month (carving out time for marriage is hard sometimes with everything going on!! But necessary… and fun!) but when we can’t get out we try to do something nice together at home.

Most of the time we end up eating dinner and picking a good movie. But one of the things we like doing together is cooking! Steve called me on his way home from town this weekend and asked if it sounded good to feed the kids and cook something for us as a date! He was in the mood for salmon, and I thought pasta sounded good with it so I sent him a list and we put together this crazy simple menu.

Do you know how easy salmon is to cook?? First of all, it hardly takes any time at all, second of all, it doesn’t take much to have an awesome-tasting piece of fish – salt and pepper, butter, dill, lemon, you’re done! Here is the recipe we followed.  Also, this made enough for us to eat it twice and still have a little left over…

This pasta recipe is fast and we really loved it! It’s creamy and garlicky and the perfect side for the salmon. Steve said:

All I can say is you need to make this more often. We need to figure out what else we can eat this with.

I made this easy peach cobbler from Trisha Yearwood with a jar of fresh peaches that my friend, Lisa, canned this summer! It made the dessert amazing.

We got the kids in bed and went to work! Since everything was pretty simple we ate in about 45 minutes. I’d recommend adding a vegetable, but we were just ready to eat, so… I think I might have been a little low on my fruit and vegetable count for the day… Oops. Do the peaches in the dessert count??

I’d love to get some more easy recipes from you AND ideas for dates – at-home or out on the town!

(P.S. pictures via the recipes linked to!)

The One Degree Experiment

I went for a walk yesterday, and I couldn’t get over the change in weather. It had been warm over the weekend here in Northern Michigan, and on Monday we got hit with frigid temperatures and wind. Today it’s all out snowing all over again. Personally, I don’t mind it – I love the drama of a good snow storm! But it got a lot of people looking forward to spring!

As I was walking through the quiet loop of our subdivision, big parka, hat and gloves on, it occurred to me that the weather lately mirrors how I feel in life right now. I feel like I’m stutter-starting. Like an engine that won’t quite turn over. Start-stop-start… stop. In basically every area.

It brought to mind a newsletter from my chiropractor’s office I had just read earlier in the day:

Some of you may know that our oldest son is studying to become a commercial pilot. I bet if we asked him that question, he would nod his head and emphatically state “yes.” When flying an airplane 1 degree can mean arriving at your destination or landing in deep water. The same principle holds true in our bodies. One small adjustment to our lifestyle can make all the difference in the end. It can make the difference between just getting old or aging well. (via Performance Chiropractic)

One Degree Change Experiment - - One change for one month, adding one more every month.

I’ve been thinking – one change is doable. I could choose to make one change a month and one change a month carried out over 12 months would mean 12 changes made in a year! That adds up. I’m also convinced that when we make one good change it bleeds into other areas of our lives. Which I need.

The trouble for me starts when I decide if I can change one thing I can certainly change two. And on and on.

So I’m just picking one thing in March. A one degree change. It’s getting five fruits and vegetables every day. need to do this for my blood pressure. I need to do a lot of other things, but like I said – I’m starting with this one.

That’s all! Then next month I’ll stick with that one and pick another.

Would you like to join me?

Here are some ideas of small changes you could make that could really add up:

  • waking up earlier
  • drinking 8 glasses of water a day
  • exercising 3x per week
  • reserving dessert for one day a week
  • setting a bedtime and sticking to it
  • reading a book (or increasing the number of books you already read!)
  • limit eating out
  • kissing your husband more (you determine what that means!)
  • go for a walk once a day

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Valentines Round-Up [Free Printables!]

We’ve had a lot going on over here. I just finished up with our local IF: Gathering and it dawned on me that this Friday is Morgan’s Valentine’s Day party for her classroom!! Of course today is a snow day – perfect day to work on them. BUT – I hadn’t bought valentines yet. Also, I’m not terribly crafty so I don’t have supplies hanging around. Except cardstock, a paper cutter and scissors… Besides that I’m not up for going out on the roads.

So, we took to the internet to see if we could find some cute free printables! I landed on this post from Pop Sugar, and while there are 52 different options, a few really stood out to me. I thought I’d share them with you in case you’re stuck at home with cardstock and no valentines!!

Click the images to visit the respective sites, and read to the end to see which ones we ended up picking! All pictures are from their respective posts. Check them out – I think you’ll love other things on their sites too!

Mustache Sucker Valentines – Erin // Strawberry Mommycakes for I Heart Nap Time

Mustache and Lips Valentines from I Heart Naptime // Valentines roundup on


Thumbprint Valentines – Kelly // Live Laugh Rowe 

Thumbprint Valentines from Live Laugh Rowe - Valentines roundup on


Cute Valentines – Catherine // Pumpkins & Posies  

Cute Valentines from Pumpkins & Posies - Valentines roundup on

Sweetheart Valentines – Kristin // Bunny Cakes

(She’s also got some adorable Easter ideas!!)candy_hearts_valentines

And while we’re at it… Here’s a little something cute for YOUR Valentine…

12 Months of Preplanned Dates – Lauren // The Thinking Closet 

12 Months of Pre-Planned Dates from The Thinking Closet - Valentines roundup on

And… drumroll……….. Here’s what we picked:

Valentines Round-Up [Free Printables!] -

In the end Morgan couldn’t pick just one!! So we did the cute candy hearts and the lips – what a riot, right??

On another note… I just started reading The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming by Sally and Sarah Clarkson, along with The Lifegiving Home Experience: A 12-Month Guided Journey and I’m so challenged by it right now. It’s broken into months, and the focus of February is on love – especially showing Jesus’ love to our family members even as we fully embrace Jesus’ love for us. There are so many ways I can improve at both aspects of this. They also touch on creating meaningful and memorable celebrations and traditions including special times of feasting! I’m thinking chocolate chip pancakes this Sunday!

All that to say – I hope today you feel the depth of Jesus’ love for you – no matter what you’ve done or how lost you feel He’s right there waiting for you and He is madly in love with you. Truly.

Coffee Date #2 – Writing, Books and More

Hey guys – it’s been a while, so I thought we’d have a coffee date to catch up and chill. You have your mug ready? In no particular order… I give you my ramblings.

Writing Is Hard

I’m just going to be honest here – I’ve been afraid to write. Afraid of not saying the right thing and not being amazing enough and not having a “plan.” (They call that an editorial calendar. That’s when I start breaking out in hives.)

Then I start wondering if I’ve said all I have to say. But I know there is more. I’ve tried to “think something up” to write about next and it just freezes me up. But this morning, I read this in The Right to Write (if you want to write but are afraid you should check out this book) and it freed me up:

Writing is about getting something down, not thinking something up. Whenever I strive to “think something up,” writing becomes something I must stretch to achieve. […]

We are asking it to do two jobs at once: to communicate to people and to simultaneously impress them.

So there you go. That’s exactly it. I really can’t impress you. I’m just here to share a little bit about what God is teaching me and what’s going on in life I hope that’s cool with you.

I’m not an expert. I have some ideas and some tips for helping life go smoother and I do love food :) I love Jesus and I want to serve him and his people but I’m surely not further along than many of you. So I’m just viewing this as a walk together. I’m doing most of the talking here, but I would love to hear from you in the comments :)

I’ve Been Reading

Oh yes – I’ve been reading a lot and loving it. If you think you don’t have time, just be like me and stick your book in the bathroom. Even if you don’t have any business to do in there you can hide for a little bit and *usually* not get bothered. 😉 You can probably get at least a chapter a day this way – he he

What have I been reading? Maisie Dobbs!! I just finished the third one, and I’m dying to start the next one but then I got The Lake House from the library… Anyone read that one yet?? I’m being like my mom and flipping ahead to see if I can figure out what’s going to happen next! So I guess I’m on a mystery kick – both of those are mysteries. I’m also finishing up Beth Moore’s book, Audacious. 

Getting Ready for IF: Gathering

For the last few years a small group of ladies and I have hosted IF: Gathering at our church. This year we got a bigger team together and we’re hosting in two churches in our city! IF: Gathering is a conference, a gathering of women in 1600 different sites and homes, in 44 countries, all asking the question – what would it look like IF we lived like Jesus. It’s happening February 5th and 6th by simulcast – so you can watch it wherever you are with the women in your community. IF has been instrumental in my life, and I bet there is a gathering taking place close to you too! If there’s not, you can sign up to host in your home or church (or wherever) too. You can check it out at We’re getting down to the wire and finishing up preparations for our gathering!

My Kids

My kids are fascinated with nature, and especially the development of chickens. We’ve talked about how chicks come from eggs, that it takes 21 days for a chicken egg to hatch, but that the eggs we eat aren’t fertilized etc.

So there I was – sitting in my chair in the living room, when in comes Taylor and heads straight to the hutch where I keep my books.

“Remember that egg we put in there?” she says.

“What?” I ask – thoroughly confused. Sure enough – she opens the hutch and collects an egg from the shelf. I just sat there with my mouth open – the questions flooding in – Is it raw? How long has it been there? What if it had cracked open?? Thankfully she had grabbed a hard boiled egg that happened to be in the fridge… I had to explain, again, that no amount of incubation was going to make that egg hatch. Especially since it had been boiled. Ahem.

Ok – your turn! What’s happening in your neck of the woods??


Learning to Choose Joy

Have you ever taken a personality test? I love those. I love any kind of “dig into who you are” tests. Meyers-Briggs. Yes. Random surveys in the mail? Yes. I don’t know – I just get a kick out of them. Anyway, the last one I really remember taking separated people into four different types (or a blend of those four types.) I don’t really remember much about the other three types, but I sure can tell you mine.

Melancholy. I think a lot, read a lot, analyze a lot. And I find joy hard to grasp. Because a lot of times I see the negative first – you know, glass-half-empty.

I’m super fun at parties. Ahem. Ok, to be fair, I do have a sense of humor, but in a real-life situation that calls for choosing joy over whining/worrying/imagining the worst case scenario, well, I tend toward the latter.

Here’s the thing – joy is a fruit of the Spirit. It is something we’re given when the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us. But we have the ability to choose it or to squelch it.

I usually squelch it. I definitely don’t seek or choose it. I’ve never written a post about joy… In fact, when it comes to joy, I need to begin with “Lord, please help me want to look for a reason to be joyful in this situation,” because it’s easier for me to whine and complain.

Enter Choose Joy, my friend Mary Carver’s book written with/about her dear friend, Sara Frankl. The best way to explain it is to quote from the inside flap:

Sara Frankl knew she had a terminal disease, but she didn’t let it stop her from living. In the face of immeasurable pain, Sara chose joy–again and again. Her unforgettable message of hope and purpose lives on, even after her death, in her words.
CHOOSE JOY is a compilation of the lessons Sara learned while she was dying, written in her own words and sewn together by her close friend Mary Carver. It is a reminder to see the beauty in life, even when it looks nothing like you hoped or planned.
In a world full of tragedy, choosing joy is no small task–but, as Sara knew, the importance lies in the choosing. Once you learn to make that choice, every day, no matter what happens, joy will come.

I’m kind of speechless about this book. I’m learning so much reading it that I don’t know where to begin. But I’ll try.

1) The suffering of others

This isn’t the primary point of Choose Joy, but it has opened my eyes to what people with chronic pain go through. It has increased my compassion toward those who are confined to their homes for one reason or another. It has made me realize that I need to look outside of myself and my little world more. It’s easy for me to get caught up in the details of my life, and I want to be more aware of people around me who need encouragement.

2) I coddle myself

I’ll just say it – I’m a whiner. Sara was in pain all the time. And as time went on she wasn’t able to breathe outside air without severe physical consequences. Her body just couldn’t deal with it. I complain because I have so much housework to do. Sara worked to find joy in her circumstances. Circumstances that were increasingly challenging. It certainly wasn’t easy for her, but she chose to do the work of finding joy:

I choose the joy. When something is going badly and I’m dwelling on it, I think instead of something for which I am grateful. I swear to you, it’s as simple as that. You just have to decide today, and again tomorrow. And before you know it, you’ll have an attitude of joy more than any other attitude you have at your disposal. (p. 27)
Most often than not, I just choose not to find joy. I choose to complain instead. I’ve got to stop being soft on myself and start working to find joy whatever happens.


3) Change is on the other side of suffering

Emotionally, a hole can be dug inside us so deep that it seems everything good has been excavated from our lives […] It’s in those moments that I pray for God to get me out of His way. It’s in those moments that I stop praying for what I want and start praying for Him to change my heart for what He wants. […] That doesn’t change my physical pain. It doesn’t change the loss. It doesn’t improve my earthly situation. But it does change the suffering. (p.38)
As many of you know, I miscarried two babies. Yet there was so much growing and changing and trusting that came out of that. Even though I have changed a lot because of both of them I have to confess that I have held back in the embracing joy department.

Books play a huge role in my life. And there are certain books that have been absolutely pivotal in my journey through miscarriage. Choose Joy is turning out to be one of them.

I believe joy is the next piece in healing and recovery for me.

Some might think this book is only for those going through intense physical difficulties.

I say this book is for everyone. Because everyone, at one point or another, will experience loss of some kind. It may be losing a job. It may be losing a loved one. It may be losing health. It may be losing the dream of what you thought life would be.

When (not if, WHEN) that happens, we get to choose how we will respond.

Sara’s life is an arrow pointing to joy.

Choose Joy is available for preorder now, and will be released on January 5, 2016.

How To Hear Him Better This Advent

Every time it snows, I wait for my opportunity. When the house is quiet and dark, I tiptoe into the living room and curl up mesmerized in the big front window to watch the flakes fall silently – blanketing the ground, trees, and houses, and muting the world. Is that a rabbit peering from the edge of the trees?

These are sacred moments. The blue light of my phone and voices competing for my attention are traded for the yellow light of the moon and hushed white clusters streaming to the earth – I sigh relief.

I feel small, and I remember One who made Himself small. Jesus who “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14.) I can hear him better sitting in this stillness. I wait in anticipation.

How To Hear Him Better This Advent - on (in)courage

In the quiet, I realize, and maybe you do too, that I have become full. And not in a good way. Full of expectations for this season, full of plans and pulls. Full of Facebook and Instagram – I just can’t seem to put them down. Full of myself and what I want. I’m so filled up that I can’t put anything else in.

When I feel like this, I know what I need to do, but sometimes I need someone else to confirm it. So if you need confirmation, you have it from me…

Keep reading with me over on (in)courage where I’m sharing my heart for Advent.

P.S. I think you’ll love (in)courage just like I do! Sign up here to receive free daily encouragement from the writers of (in)courage, right in your inbox!

Pursuing Jesus {An Invitation}

I’m a melancholy by trade. Ok, by nature. But man, if I could get paid for it…

There are good sides to this – I like to learn and study and think. I feel deeply.

The downside is I tend to see the “half empty” side of things easier than the “half full” side.

For instance – in January I made all kinds of goals. Does anyone else feel like 2015 went by faster than any other year in the history of years? Because all of a sudden it’s the day before December and I haven’t met any of my goals. Literally.

I came to this realization yesterday. After which I started making a mental list of all the things I hadn’t accomplished in 2015. And ended up feeling like a big failure.

Steve didn’t really sympathize, he just said “Well, maybe you need to make different goals.” And how I have three kids and I should keep that in mind when making goals. OR SOME SUCH RATIONAL TALK LIKE THAT.

Here’s where I came out after journaling, and making a written list of all the good things that were accomplished in 2015 –

1. I cannot compare

This is not new news. I’m constantly looking at what others are doing and wishing things worked that way for me. I KNOW I have my own marked race to run, but others’ races sure do look great. I’ve got to knock this off.

2. I can’t do it all

I made a gazillion goals in January. That’s not reasonable; it’s setting myself up for failure. I need to pick maximum three things at a time. Enough with this If You Give a Mouse a Cookie mentality. You know the one – if I’m going to try to wake up earlier to do devotions I should wake up even earlier to get some reading in. And if I’m going to wake up earlier for reading I might as well add extra time for journaling. And while I’m add it I should just try to work out in the mornings as well. And if I’m working out I need to eat better too. And don’t forget drinking more water… And then I end up doing nothing.

3. I want to choose what is better

This passage keeps coming back to my mind – Jesus is visiting the house of Lazarus, Martha and Mary. Martha gets upset because she’s doing all the preparations while Mary is sitting and listening to him.

41“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42

I don’t want to be worried and upset about many things. I want to choose what is better. I think that means learning to love Jesus with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I’ve been a Christian pretty much all my life, but I’m not sure I know how to do that.

So, I want to get reacquainted with Jesus. I’m not really sure what I’m doing in life right now – I feel torn in many directions. And I want to be pursuing what is best. He’s the best thing. I want to be pursuing Him.

Here’s my plan:

I’m going to be reading through the New Testament in six months using this really simple reading plan I found online. I’m also doing the IF: Equip Advent study (It starts today! There’s still time to join!) I’m going to jot down what I learn about Jesus in whatever I’m reading. I want to build a portrait of Him from my own digging in Scripture. I want to know for myself what the Bible says about Him – not what someone else is saying about Him. I mean, that’s helpful too, but sometimes, don’t you just want to find out for yourself? Whenever you’re reading this – you can jump in at any time.

That said, here are two resources I’ll be using as well:

100 Days With Jesus on Instagram (there are 25 days left!)

I love this list of names for Jesus taken right from Scripture, along with a definition of the name and a prayer thanking Jesus for being what the name means. It’s been moving to follow along.

{Activity} My Instagram Favorites - Day 20 - 31 Days of Fun and Inspiration -


The New Bible Commentary

This commentary has been so helpful to me in providing additional background and explanations I wouldn’t otherwise have picked up on. It’s easy to read and understand, and t’s edited by trusted theologians, including D.A. Carson – who happened to be one of my dad’s seminary professors (a little family trivia for you :) .)

New Bible Commentary

In the blogging world, one should have graphics and cool names for things and a “build-up” time and all… I don’t have any of that. It’s just pursuing Jesus.

And I’m just saying – if you want to join me, I’d love to have your company on this journey.