Dear Father –

You have provided mountain tops and valleys throughout my journey. And no matter what or where, more often than not I seem to forget that You are at the center of everything in my life. It’s not that I don’t love You. It’s not that I don’t know You are there. It’s just that in the midst of everything my heart and mind drift away… and focus inward. And it’s easy. I can even look like I’m centered on You on the outside, but on the inside I’m seriously self-centered.

But You know my heart, don’t You? And little by little You’re getting to me. You knew when You called me to a church where communion was offered EVERY Sunday that I wouldn’t be able to resist You, didn’t You? You knew that a message series on pride would hit me right between the eyes, didn’t You?

You know I want to run. You know I don’t want to do it anymore. You know I’m tired. You know, don’t You? You know my next step before it happens, and You know exactly where I’m at.

Yeah, You’re killing ME. And I think that’s exactly what You’ve planned all along. I do want to serve You. I think… Can I serve you and still bring ME along? No? Well, I’m not sure how that works then, but I guess I’m gonna learn cuz at the rate You’re going there won’t be much of ME left soon! And that’t a GREAT thing!

Letting go little by little, Your daughter

Fall has always been my favorite season. When I was a little girl I couldn’t wait for new school clothes, new friends, and a new teacher. As I got older, it seemed as if it was always the season for new beginnings. And since 1994, being involved with Dare 2 Share, it has also meant the opening of a new student conference tour season – the fruition of months and months of hard work and planning.

Almost always these “new beginnings” are positive. But this season has brought some transitions that hold a bittersweet place in my heart:

  • Ministry friends move on – More than one close friend I’ve done ministry beside for years has been called to a new mission. But Carol Ann’s departure this month has hit me the hardest. I have been serving beside this wonderful woman for over 6 years and I can’t imagine doing ministry without her. I know God is going to use her in amazing ways to directly serve those in need in her new role. So how can I argue with that?
  • Rick reaches 50 – My incredible husband has spent half his life with me! That in itself is remarkable. I am SO thankful that his MS is stable and he remains in pretty good health – but my heart is broken because he continues to struggle with his job. He is the most loyal person I know and has weathered a lot of company ups and downs but is daily reaching the edge of his tolerance. Pray for God’s wisdom for him, it isn’t easy for a 50-year-old to embark on a new career.
  • TJ is getting ready to graduate – Tim has worked so hard! And although he has changed schools and majors, his degree fits him well. A bachelor’s in broadcast production with minors in interactive and digital media. Well done, son! He is a gifted writer and editor with an eye for understanding the audience. I am excited for him and nervous for him all at the same time.
  • New mission at Dare 2 Share – We are finalizing a new mission statement and with it will come more focus. I can’t tell you how excited that makes me! We have gone back to our “roots” so to speak and I truly believe the change is God-ordained. Now comes the hard part of shedding away those things that don’t fit – and while I recognize that this is necessary for us in many ways, it is still a fairly painful process.
  • New church home – We decided to begin worshipping at Northern Hills Church. We love the format, the people, really just about everything! Except the drive, that is. It’s 30-40 minutes on a great day, but it’s worth it. We have met some new friends and it’s been exciting but I feel the “tug” in my spirit as my connections with old friends has trickled away to virtually non existent. I miss them terribly and wish I could be in two places at once.

Transitions are always exciting because they bring the new and unknown, the fresh air of change. Bitter and sweet.

Yesterday I took some time to catch up and ended up watching a talk my friend, Doug Fields, gave at last year’s National Youth Ministry Convention. I was at the convention but didn’t have the opportunity to hear him. I was surprised by his vulnerability as he talked about how deficiant he felt when it came to caring conversations. He spent some time laying out what he called “faith blockers” and I quickly began to resonate with what he was saying. It’s a great talk for anyone in ministry, so if you have time check it out.

As Doug was summing up he brought the audience’s attention to Isaiah 40. Oh yeah, I thought to myself, I’m familiar with that passage. It’s the one that talks about the Lord’s sovereignty – “our everlasting God.” And as I moved into the next thing for the day I found myself humming the popular Christian worship song as well.

But for some reason the passage was on my heart again this morning. Could it be that these past few weeks of feeling worn out and weary were getting to me? As I opened my Bible I acknowledged my emotional state of being of late. Then I dove right in.

I prayed and meditated on the whole passge for some time. I read it out loud to Rick. And as I looked down at the words on the page again, something jumped out. In verse 31 it says, “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.” New strength. Wow! NEW strength! Then I remembered that our God isn’t constrained by time like we are. He has the ability (and the desire) to constantly renew.

I am so encouraged that no matter where or when or for how long I am tired and weak, I just need to trust in Him and He will provide NEW STRENGTH. So my prayer is that when I am tossing and turning during those sleepless nights or wrestling to solve a problem or make an important decision during the day – that I may rest on this truth and be renewed.

For years I’ve struggled understanding the verb “abide” in the Christian vernacular. I’m not sure why. The word makes sense to me in other contexts. For instance, I am a “law-abiding” citizen! So this morning I happened to be spending some time in John. John 15 to be exact.

I know the Lord has got a lot more “pruning” to do as I continue to strive to remain in Him. But my desire is to be a Christ-follower that is not only faithful, but also fruitful. He has promised that if we remain in Him our joy will overflow! I know that I must consistently spend time with Him in order for this to happen. For me, it’s too easy to fall into a busy routine and focus on other things. That’s when I catch myself too… reacting to a crisis in the flesh, forgetting to put people before projects, forsaking balance in my life, feeling depleted and empty at the end of the day.

What an encouragement it is that Jesus considers us a FRIEND! I know I can go to Him any time, anywhere in oder to get centered and remain in Him.

My quest continues and my studies have led me to Proverbs 9. God paints a picture of a beautiful banquet, in a beautiful home, with a beautifully set table. And the invitation to this feast is sent to all, even the simple. The host of this wonderful meal? Wisdom. All we have to do is show up and partake.

But wait… later in the chapter it looks there’s another option available too. Yep, it’s wisdom’s counterpart, folly. Her feast sounds interesting, maybe even a bit more tasteful. Hmm…

As I study further and read through the notes in my Bible it’s clear what the passage is trying to say. Folly is offering a sort of heigtened “fast food ” experience that could get me into trouble. Ever eat something that tastes super good but then later you pay for it? I think that’s the point here.

Folly appeals to your senses, your emotions – where wisdom appeals more to your head, what you know to be right if you’d slow down and think about it.

I want to eat at wisdom’s table, how about you?

I don’t want to miss it when it comes… the gift of wisdom, that is. So, I decided to try and understand exactly what it would look like. The Bible says wisdom from above looks like this:

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:17-18

Pure, peace loving, gentle, and willing to yield to others. Interestingly, my Bible also references Hebrews 12:11 where it talks about discipline not being pleasant at the time, but afterward that there is a “peaceful harvest of right living.” And as I have studied here and there about Soloman (he was the “wisest man ever to live” you know), it becomes pretty clear that even though the wisdom is given you must still make right choices. Solomon made some good choices and some bad ones.

So, last week I was supposed to meet Rick somewhere at 6:15. I told him I would leave the office at 6 and could be there by then without a problem. Well if you know me then you can guess pretty easily what happened next. I didn’t leave on time and he called my cell at 6:14 to tell me the place we were to meet was gone. I missed his call and then he didn’t pick up when I tried to call him back. Long story short, I drove around and finally went home. He was pretty disappointed and told me that my priorities were messed up (I consistently get home late, so his complaint is justified). I listened and held my tongue, then went upstairs to “cool off.” I was angry and felt like he was trying to punish me.

I came very close to getting into the car and running away. My desire was to try to punish him somehow since that’s what I felt he was trying to do to me. But I didn’t. Something (maybe wisdom, I don’t know) stopped me and as difficult as it was to swallow my pride, I confessed to him that I knew I’d blown it. And he was right… my priorities are messed up.

I love my husband and thank God for using him to remind me of what is right. Maybe the gift of wisdom is delivered through people too, what do you think?

“How do I look?” Women around the world have been asking their spouses this for years. Smart men have figured out the art of avoiding the question or, even more difficult, how to always give a complimentary answer. For Rick and I, we’ve never really had strong opinions about each other’s attire. It’s been a fairly easy area of our 25 years together.

Recently though, I found myself having a strong opinion about one particular item of Rick’s wardrobe.  And to make matters even a bit more complicated, it happended to be something that was given as a gift. But at the risk of offending this good-intentioned gift-giver (who I love very much), I decided to share the story anyway.

The “not-so-liked” offensive article? A long sleeved button-up shirt with big turkeys and pheasants and maybe even some other fowl that can be hunted and killed spread out ALL over it! Yes, my Cabelas-card-carrying husband loves it! So much that he decided to wear it (along with shorts mind you) last year at a leadership staff get together we were hosting! Personally, I think he was just messing with me since I have such strong feelings about this particular shirt and he knew that if he waited until everyone was here and then came down with it on it would cause a reaction… and it worked!

It bothers me that I really dislike this shirt so much. It also seems as though my dislike has helped Rick to love the shirt even more. I keep trying not to care… but it’s not working.

Then, as I was receiving counsel from a friend, I learned that this is not uncommon. She too had some strong feelings about a few of her husbands wardrobe choices. Then I talked to another friend. Yep! She too had some issues. Wow! Maybe we should start a support group! Or at least a website to share photos so that other women like us won’t feel alone.

So whether it’s sweater vests, plaid shirts, old t-shirts, dirty baseball caps, falling apart tennis shoes, or a turkey shirt… take heart – you are amongst many other women who feel your pain!

Yesterday I woke up to a gloomy, overcast morning. And because of the stress I have been under the past few months, all I wanted to do was close my eyes again and curl up in a ball under the covers. But for some reason, I’m not sure why, I got up and headed to the gym. I remember thinking as I walked in the door, “This is good – maybe a little exercise will jolt me out of this mood.” So I hooked up my iPod and hopped on the eliptical.

Only minutes after I began I heard it. The beautiful song by Alison Krauss, A Living Prayer. Her angelic voice to a soft melody singing… “In this world, I walk alone, with no place to call my home… But there’s One who holds my hand, the rugged road through barren land.” The lyrics began to paint a picture of a Savior who never leaves and always provides strength. “The road is steep… eyes to see… strength to climb.” I closed my eyes and tried not to cry.

I can still hear the chorus, the words so eloquently capturing exactly how I felt, “In Your love I find release, a haven from my unbelief. Take my life and let me be a living prayer, my God to Thee.”

How can my life be a living prayer? Why do I allow my unbelief to consume me? I know that His love is a haven, a place to find release. I just need to run to Him, spend time with Him. I get caught up in wanting to control – circumstances as well as people. That is when I feel the road getting longer and darker and harder.

A living prayer? Yes –  moment by moment, by depending on Him.

Rick and I took a roadtrip this weekend. We were headed to Steamboat Springs to attend my nephew’s birthday party for the day and decided to take the scenic route. For those of you familiar with Colorado by-ways, we went north on I-25, up through Ft. Collins and through the Poudre Canyon. It was beautiful. The leaves were turning and the weather was perfect.

Like many other road trips, we were also listening to a book on tape. This particular book wasn’t one of our favorites, but it did have an interesting plot and provided an interesting insight about the word “sincere.” We wouldn’t have thought much about it except that the very next day, as we were visiting a friend’s church, the pastor brought up the same thing in his sermon!

I honestly believe that coincidence is God’s way of trying to get through to us sometimes, so after the sermon I began to really think and pray about what He might be wanting me to learn. Let me try to explain…

My understanding is that the word “sincere” was first used as a description of a statue that was perfectly made. The etymology of the word meaning “without wax.” Apparently many statues contained wax where the sculpturers covered up flaws and mistakes. Sincere meant that the art was in its purest form.

How sincere am I? How many times have I written “sincerely” at the bottom of a letter without really understanding what that meant? Are my motives always pure? I’m thankful for this reminder to consider my words and actions more carefully and to listen more attentively.

Without Wax,


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