The Speckled Goat's "Tops" of 2016

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It's hard to believe another year has come and gone.

Usually, I'm one of those flakes who starts projects and doesn't finish them... but this marks yet another year that I've been consistently writing here. Which is in part surprising, and in part shows me that I'm pretty blessed to have found something that I am passionate about.

And I'm glad that you, my loyal readers, find my words encouraging and valuable.

It's been another great year, so let's do a little review!


Blessings this Week: 12.23.2016

Oh this week.

Oh, oh this week.

The fun of seasonal work means that the busy comes all at one time. Crashing in on my sleep, my rest, my peace, my wholeness... and eventually, my contentment.

But I'm finding blessings. Lots of them.


White as Snow

The first day of December dawned bright and clear.

And brown.

Everything was brown. Dry, dead, and brown.

It wasn't at all typical, either. Colorado in December usually means knee-deep snow everywhere. Cold, crisp, and white.

This winter has been slow in coming. Unusual. Strangely so. And for a tourist area that depends on snow, it wasn't good. You could feel the tension in the air.

But finally, weeks after the snow typically arrives in full force, we had our first snowstorm of the season.


A Home for the Holidays

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Half-asleep from the ten-plus-hour drive, my little family pulled into the driveway around eight o'clock in the morning.  Our silver car was trailered behind us, filled to the brim with boxes and suitcases, and a menagerie filled the back seat of the truck- a dog, three fish, and an extremely grouchy turtle.

The sunshine seemed almost offensive because of how tired I was. I resisted the urge to just walk into the house and find a bed and crash. Instead, I turned to the dog (who had slept most of the way, lucky jerk), and said cheerfully, "We're home!"

"Home" has been a very fluid concept for me, these past five years.

In five years, we've lived in an apartment at the Bible Camp where we worked, then a house at Camp, then briefly in our camper followed immediately by crashing at a cabin at Camp, then finally in our own little farmhouse... and now up in the mountains in my brother-in-law's spare bedroom.

Lots of work, so many boxes, plenty of stress.

It's been an adventure.


Blessings this Week: 12.09.2016 and 12.16.2016

This December-in-Colorado thing feels suspiciously like July in Iowa, except for the temperature and the snow, of course.

Things are really getting busy around here- crazy busy, in fact- and while I'm pretty used to insane seasons at work, I'm not used to winter being so intense.

My head tells me that it's a good thing to be so busy- it means a successful business, happy customers, people who have the opportunity to experience God's beautiful creation in a new way- my heart often says something different. It's easy for me to get overwhelmed or discouraged, burnt out by the busy.

And that's just another reason why I count. I have to remain thankful to fight back the entitlement. I have to be grateful to keep from feeling sorry for my busy self. I have to find the gifts so I recognize the blessing in the busy.


12 Days of Christmas Cookies

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My dress was scratchy and my tights were bunching up uncomfortably around my toes, but it didn't matter. It was the most wonderful party of the year.

The annual family Christmas party.

This wasn't just any Christmas party, and even my seven-year-old self knew it. This was special.

The first notable thing about this specific Christmas party was the number of people in attendance. My mother is one of seven children, my grandmother is one of eleven... and this party included the entire family. Little tiny Italian great-aunts as far as the eye could see.

Besides all the hand-waving and kisses on the cheek, putting all those little Italian women together in one place meant that the food. was. incredible.

But my favorite place to be was next to the dessert table, where my grandma had carefully arranged The Christmas Cookies- an assortment both colorful and delicious, ranging from traditional Italian pizzelles to Hersey-Kiss topped peanut butter cookies to sugar cookie cut outs.

It's twenty years later, and not much has changed-- the great-aunts have gotten even shorter, the number of people has grown a little as all my cousins and second-cousins and people-I'm-related-to-but-don't-know-how get married and have families of their own, and now I get to pick out my own tights... but my favorite part of every Christmas party is still the cookies.

This year, I want to add some new contenders to the platter with these twelve holiday cookie recipes from around the interwebs-- all sure to be a great addition to any family tradition.


O Come All Ye Family

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I open the passenger door, and, careful not to get that nasty salt-mixed-with-gravel-dust grime on my skirt, settle into the car.

I take a deep breath and turn to my husband.

"Okay, let's do this thing."

And we're off to the family Christmas party.

Let's just go right ahead and be honest about it.

The holidays bring out the crazy in every family.

Whether it's grandpa's slightly inappropriate remarks, or an old rivalry between cousins, or the sister's boyfriend that no one really likes, tension is almost as plentiful at the dining room table as the mashed potatoes.

Family is... complicated.

The holidays bring tension in family relationships.


What I Do with Christmas Cards

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... And... with the first red envelope in my mailbox this morning, my favorite season of the year is here.

It's Christmas card season.

There's been this trend lately of people just not doing Christmas cards.

I get it. I do. Christmas cards can be expensive, time consuming, and with everyone and their grandmother on social media, it seems a lot easier to put up a Facebook picture and be done with the whole thing.

But I just can't help myself. I love Christmas cards.


Understanding Came Upon a Midnight Clear

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When infertility is an issue, family gatherings and holiday parties can be minefields.

The questions. There are always questions.

When will you two have a little one?

You look so nice holding a baby... when can we expect one from you?

Don't you want kids?

Honestly, they almost always mean well, but knowing that doesn't help in the moment.

Good intentions don't keep me from, say, choking on that sip of sparkling cider, my face turning as red as those holiday napkins, and then hurrying to hide in the bathroom to cry. Not that I've done that. <ahem.>

The truth is, as well-meaning as they may be, the majority of the people asking those baby-related questions just don't understand.

They can't. They haven't been there.

It can be so tempting to just grin and bear it, put on a mask and hide my true feelings. Sometimes it's a bit of survival, too.

But when I'm not really being myself, really being transparent, I'm also not letting anyone else in.

It's different when it's with my sister, though.

My sister and I are very much alike, and she's kind of my go-to person when it comes to dealing with some of the holiday family drama. We are similar enough that she really understands a lot of the struggles I'm dealing with, because she's been there.

That kind of empathy is important- it creates a special relationship. We can be transparent with one another, because she gets it.


Blessings this Week: 11.25.2016 and 12.02.2016

And so I missed it.

Yep. I didn't put up a blessings post on the most thankful week of the year, and I've been totally slacking on the blessings posts this month...

But you know? It's just the season I'm in right now.

We all have seasons. For me, this season is about intentionally finding the blessings even in hard things... and maybe that means fully living them first. The daily quiet gratitude I'm fighting for... maybe it needs to be deeper, even more personal.

And that's okay.


The Little White Church

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Gravel crunched under the tires as we pulled into the small parking lot. I don't even know that you could really even call it a parking lot-- it was more like a little dirt patch right by the road.

The church was adorable- like something off a Christmas card-- traditional white clapboard, the quaint steeple pointed to the sky. It looked like it had been transplanted, amidst all the close-together houses and long-neglected businesses. Everything around it needed paint, and the crisp whiteness of the church looked out of place.

I'll be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect from this tiny little church in this tiny little town.

Don't get me wrong- it's not like rural Iowa is bustling- but what kind of congregation could come out of a one-horse, run down village like this?


O Come, O Come, Unexpected Immanuel

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Our honeymoon was months in the making.

We had shiny, slick paper brochures and Pinterest boards. We had circled must-see spots on crinkly, weathered maps. We knew just what we wanted to see, and when, and how long we wanted to stay there.

Finally, the day of our departure arrived. Trevor and I packed the car with our sleeping bags and tent and clothing, filled it with clothes and food and our big plans.

And you know? Lots of things happened that were... unexpected. Surprises, if you will.

The rental car broke down outside of Salt Lake City and we had to switch vehicles- which meant a trip into the city we hadn't planned and a delay that wasn't part of our schedule. We'd expected to camp at the Grand Canyon, but a snowstorm made that impossible and we had to find a hotel at the last minute. We'd allotted too much time for some places, and not enough time for other places.

In spite of all of our planning, surprises still popped up.


The Advent Devotional Wish List

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Ah, Advent.

Can you believe that we're only one short week away? I can't. It came up quickly this year.

One of my favorite things about Advent, though, is the books. Yes, I might overdo it with Advent devotionals, so I've limited myself to just one a year. And this year it seems especially tough.


The Love of Money: finding security in identity

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Frugal. Thrifty.

That's the nice way to say it.

But I've also been called stingy, a cheapsake, a scrooge.

I may have avoided buying groceries before winter break in college and spent two days eating brownie mix and milk.

I just might mend my husband's shorts over and over until I'm putting patches on top of patches.

I know how to stretch a penny, how to feed a bunch of people with one box of Hamburger Helper, how to comb through thrift store racks for specific items.

I'm kind of proud of it, actually.

And I don't think that there's anything inherently wrong about being cautious with our family's budget. Being intentional about how we spend our money has allowed us to go on vacations and make some pretty awesome memories.

But it can definitely go too far.


Blessings this Week: 11.11.2016 and 11.18.2016

As I take the time to reflect over the past two weeks, only one word comes to mind. Overwhelming.

Just... overwhelming.

And it's not terribly surprising, given what's been going on these days- new jobs, new home, settling in, flying to Chicago, saying hello and hugging goodbye, building and changing and growing.

But even more than all that, amidst all this hard stuff, I'm overwhelmed by the blessings. God is so good.


Preparing the Way

I know preparation.

For four years, I served in the office at a Bible Camp- processing registration forms and preparing, always the preparing, for a new group to encounter the love of Christ.

I sent emails, gathered details, prepped rooms, made door signs and name tags, printed schedules, coordinated with leaders. When I wasn't actively serving one group, I was preparing for the next one. Always, always preparing.

Most of the time, I enjoyed working to make the best possible experience for our guests.

I'll be honest with you, though. Being the prep person is not glamorous. It's often thankless, unnoticed, and unappreciated. Serving well as one who makes the way for others requires the right attitude. I don't usually have very much of that right attitude. I get bitter, tired, worn out, grouchy and impatient. Serving and preparing requires humility.

As we think about preparation, I can't help but think of John the Baptist. After all, he was the voice in the desert, crying "Prepare the way of the Lord!" And like any great servant, John's preparation was marked with humility.

I'm honored to be guest posting today for Kris Camealy! This post was inspired by her new Advent devotional:  (affiliate link) Come Lord Jesus: The Weight of Waiting.

DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging habit, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. You may see a full disclosure by clicking on my "About" page. I will only promote products that I use, enjoy, or take a shine to. All opinions and reviews are my own and are not influenced by any compensation I may receive.


Planner Update: Or, "Oh My Goodness, I Got a SmartPhone"

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I love my paper planner. For real. But last month, I got a fancy smart phone (and joined the 21st century!), and to be honest, that changed some things. Like the ways I plan. I use apps, now. (WHAT?)

I didn't really expect it make a difference for me- especially since I was so staunchly opposed to getting a smart phone in the first place. The ability to get pictures of my (adorable!) nieces and nephews sent right to my phone tipped the scales in the favor of upgrading. Well, that, and the fact that my "dumb phone" finally bit the dust (after five years! I know!).

But honestly, having a smart phone has changed the way I do stuff.

And so, in the interest of full disclosure, I want to tell you about the apps I've started to use, and also the things I still (still!) use my paper planner to accomplish.


Stuff : how identity changes our values

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In middle school, I desperately wanted one thing. I wanted it so much that it consumed my thoughts, brought jealousy into my heart, and became the scale with which I measured all the people around me.

I wanted an Abercrombie t-shirt.

Nothing fancy, just something (anything) that had those magical words, "Abercrombie and Fitch" emblazoned across the front.

Looking back now, it is a little silly, but the power of that t-shirt really captivated my pre-teen mind.

It wasn't the shirt that I wanted, really. It was the status.

See, all the cool kids, all the popular girls, had Abercrombie clothes. All of them. And I, well... I did not. Those name brand clothes were expensive (still are, I'd assume), and my family didn't make fancy clothes a financial priority. I had lots of clothes. But they just didn't have that glorious brand name.

And heavens, I wanted that brand name. Because if I could wear that shirt, then I could be "in."


Blessings this Week: 11.04.2016

We've been here in Colorado for a couple of weeks, now, and I still can't get over the beauty of this place.

This beautiful rainbow and the fog over the mountains

My husband who called me out of the house to come and see it


Faith and Baseball: or, Why the World Series Was a Big Deal

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Image Source: Kansas City Star

Last night, the laundry sat in a pile in the middle of my bed. The soup I made for supper was left to congeal in the pot still on the stove. I was busy. Busy glued to my laptop, and the seventh game of the World Series.

I'll be honest, I am not the most faithful Cubbies fan. I don't watch every game. I don't even have a Cubs cap anymore. And I've really never been much of a sports-watcher. That's why my poor dear husband - who isn't a sports guy himself- was a little confused by my instant dedication to this game.

Thankfully, he's patient and he's also used to me flaking out on my housework and getting emotional about people I've never met. And he's also very good at reading between the lines. He knew it wasn't just about a baseball game. And while I didn't have to explain myself to him, thinking about why this game resonated with me- with so many of us, really- made me realize that baseball is a lot like faith.

Maybe this is something that the sports lovers know already, but for me, watching the Cubs win last night was an almost religious experience. And I think it just may be because God designed us this way. He designed us to long for...


Worry : how insecurity can be reshaped by claiming identity

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I finished writing the fourth page of the note with a big sigh.

"Okay. Don't let me forget to give this to them," I said to my husband.

He looked up from his game and smiled, amused.

"Don't you think it's a little overboard?" he asked, stifling his laughter. "It'll be fine. It's only a week, and he's a dog."

When we "adopted" Bear in December, I had no idea how quickly he'd find his way into my heart. For that matter, I didn't realize that he'd also uncover a deep-seated layer of my own insecurity. 

We were headed on vacation for a week, and Bear would be in the care of some friends from church. While I had no qualms about this wonderful family watching our dog, I did feel uneasy about what they'd think of him. I was worried about what my dog would say about me. 

I'm not crazy. I know that Bear can't actually "say" anything about me. But his appearance, his care, his behavior, could really say a lot about who I was as a person. So I worried.

I'm honored to be guest posting today at His Endless Love!

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Blessings this Week: 10.28.2016 Edition

It's been quite a week- to the extent that it feels like I've lived a month in the span of these seven days. But in the middle of all the change, finding those blessings- noticing and expressing gratitude to God- gives me a firm foundation.

The view from my backyard... and beautiful sunny days.

...   ...   ...   ...   ...


Holding the Handfuls

I looked up from the screen warming my lap, out the window to cows grazing just beyond the thin wire fence, mountains stretching high behind them.

As the beauty filled my eyes, my lungs expanded in a deep, restful breath.

There's been a lot of talk of simplicity in many Christian circles. Of rest, paring down.

I was a big proponent of all that, myself. In fact, the idea of a more restful existence was one of the reasons we decided to move out here in the first place.

But this change of job and geographical location and pace has its own stress, its own hectic chaos. For one thing, we have internet at home now, and I just got upgraded to a smartphone. There are always (always!) ninety million things I could be doing, and it is proving very easy to lose myself down the rabbit hole called the world-wide-web.


Tennis Shoes : how identity affects small choices

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I was that kid.

You know, the one who faked ankle injuries out on the kickball field. The one who somehow made it to the end of the line when it was time for my team to bat in Whiffle Ball. I failed every Presidential Fitness challenge, with the exception of the flexibility test.

Those days out on the elementary school field, with its dying scratchy grass and occasional patch of dandelions, firmly solidified my identity in my mind. I was not an athlete.

I didn't run, didn't catch, didn't throw, didn't kick. And I certainly didn't sweat.

Bookish and smart, I didn't need any of that, anyway. And my fast little metabolism worked overtime but kept me healthy and trim.

This image of myself as a non-athlete was so ingrained in my being that I bowed out of rec classes, never tried out for an inter-mural team in college, and poked fun at myself for being out of breath on those rare occasions that my roommate took me out salsa dancing.

It was a mantra- part of who I was. I don't exercise.


Blessings these Weeks: 10.14.2016 and 10.21.2016

Change creeps up on us, sometimes. Like the sudden shift that brings down the leaves and laces the ground with frost, my life seems... surprising.

But somehow, in the middle of the surprises is where the most beauty is found. I just have to learn to lean into it, to allow the change to happen- even when it's not the way I thought it would be. That's where I find the biggest blessings.


How Should a Christian Vote? : part 4

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I remember one of the first times I was made fun of in school.

I wasn't the most fashionable girl in the grade (not by a long shot!), and honestly, I didn't really even care that much. I loved school, and the learning always took precedence over what I was wearing. Most of the time I just didn't even pay attention.

But it was second grade, and apparently this was the age in which all the little girls learned what was cool and what was not. And I was certainly not. I wore one of my favorite outfits that day- complete with really stellar hand-me-down bib-overall shorts.

Which, I suppose, was the wrong thing to wear.

They were mean and teased me, and while I laughed along on the outside, I went home that day with two big lessons burned into my mind. Never wear those shorts again... and Being made fun of is pretty terrible. 



Living in rural Iowa means that we have very few neighbors.

In fact, our closest neighbors happen to be these guys.

(So, then, does that make them "moo-bors?" Get it? Get it?)

As far as neighbors go, they're not so bad. 
I mean, they smell a little, but they're not big on loud parties. They never borrow tools without returning them, and their strangest hobby seems to be standing in the mud for hours on end. 
There are several little ones, but they seem pretty well-behaved. 

They aren't super polite, though. They kind of... stare.

Especially this lovely white-faced mama.

Every time I walk past their yard, she's watching.


Plastic earrings dangling in the wind.

DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging habit, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. You may see a full disclosure by clicking on my "About" page. I will only promote products that I use, enjoy, or take a shine to. All opinions and reviews are my own and are not influenced by any compensation I may receive.


How Should a Christian Vote? : part 3

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"It's just ridiculous," she said, exasperation lacing her voice. "It's choosing the lesser of two evils, at this point. I'm seriously thinking about not even going to the polls this year. "

Besides the "moving to Canada" thing, this is the most common feeling I've heard expressed in my (admittedly limited) circle of influence.

And in my opinion, it's pretty sad.

It's no secret that the two major party candidates this election year aren't very popular. There really doesn't seem to be a clear cut "right" choice for president- and that can feel overwhelming.

But I don't think that not voting is the answer.


Blessings this Week: 10.07.2016

It's officially Fall, now, this wonderful season of colors and crispness.

Here in Iowa, Fall is the in-between time.

A few short weeks (if we're lucky) of respite from the soggy, thick summer heat before the blasting, icy cold of the winter begins. It's in the in-between time that we get the colors, the coolness, the warm sunshine.



There is a heron in this picture. You just can't see it, because it's impossible to get a picture of these herons. Christian devotions, free online devotions, devotional thoughts, short devotions, online daily devotional

There are three great blue herons living near my house.

For months now, I've seen them daily. They flap their enormous wings and take off into the sky as I walk the dog past the creek, making a lazy circle and landing back in the muddy creek bottom as we pass. They drift across the cornfield to the south of my house, heading to their favorite frog-hunting ground- my pond.

I watch for them.

And for months now, I've carried my camera on every walk we take, keep it handy when I head outside in the evening, leave it sitting in the entryway, waiting.

Because I'm determined to show you these herons.


How Should a Christian Vote? : part 2

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About a week ago, I watched the dissolution of a friendship.

Social media is weird like that- allowing a bystander (like me) to see all the details, all the comments, that resulted in the death of a relationship.

It started out civil, just one political viewpoint, and a friend who disagreed politely. But soon the conversation turned from political standpoints and policy decisions to name calling and blaming, and right there, in black and white letters on the computer screen, their friendship was over.

And it got me thinking.

Because in this political season, the country is so... divided. And we're not really even that pleasant about it. The candidates are yelling and calling names, and we're following right along with them.


Blessings this Week: 09.30.2016 Edition

The bumble bees are moving slower now, just as my life seems to speed right up. 

Today was my last day at work, officially, and the two-ish weeks before we leave seem so short already.

So I count.

Because when I count blessings, time seems to slow for those moments of gratitude, and I remember that I'm loved by One who isn't bound by time.


How Should a Christian Vote? : part 1

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Within five minutes of logging in to Facebook, I'm ready to curl up in a big fuzzy blanket and hide away for a while. Like, until Christmas.

Scrolling through my  newsfeed wears me out and makes me sad. The wealth of information out there makes my soul feel poor. The world feels so... hopeless.

I'm not sure if you noticed, (ha), but there's a presidential election coming up.

It feels... different, doesn't it?

I am old enough to remember several presidential elections, and old enough to have voted in a few, but still... this election seems different.

For one thing, both of the major party candidates are totally despised by a significant portion of the population. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are two of the most controversial candidates of all time- complete opposites in terms of policy in almost every way. Apparently, no matter who is elected, about half of the population will be moving to Canada.


Blessings this Week: 09.23.2016 Edition

The days are quickly flying by and I'm marking off the days in my calendar and realizing that in only six short days, I'll be done working at Camp.

And it's a little surreal, and a little anxiety-inducing, but I'm leaning in hard and trying to remember the One who has it all well in hand, even when I feel like everything is out of control.



As I write this, I'm sitting across the office from the woman who is taking my place.

She's literally taking my place today- sitting at my desk, behind my computer. I sit across the room, notebook in hand, waiting for her to ask a question about the task she'll soon be able to do with her eyes closed.

It's just a little weird, you know?

I'm working myself out of a job. For the next two weeks, I'll be training in "my replacement," a delightful lady with a nice loud laugh who will hopefully fall as much in love with my job at Camp as I did.

I feel a little lost. For the past nearly four years, I've been so needed. Sometimes even more needed than I'd like to be.

And at this very moment, the new office lady is taking care of something that I didn't even teach her how to do yet, and I'm feeling... unneeded.

It's weird.

But aren't we all kind of involved in training our "replacements?"

When we began this relationship with Christ, we also signed up for a life of pouring into others. Into our families, our friends, the kids we encounter, the little lives entrusted to us, the people we influence each day.

We lean into His Kingdom, into His purposes for each of us, and along the way, we get the awesome opportunity to start a ripple- to teach the next generations, to encourage and support people who will go on to do big things.

We train up someone else (or many someone else's) before we move on to the next step in this adventure of an abundant life God has in store for us.

I'm leaving this place in good hands, in capable hands, in the hands of someone who will take this job and this Camp and be instrumental in progress and growth, while also doing a lot of growing within herself (just as I have).

I'm starting to feel unneeded here, because I'm so needed somewhere else. 

It's weird, but it's also pretty affirming. A passing of a baton, not so I can go hit the sidelines and rest, but so that I can veer off on a new path, getting a new baton to pass along.

It will be so good, because it's what He has planned for me.

Let me work myself out of this job, God, and keep this place in good hands. Let me be worthy of this new calling You have in store for me, and even now, prepare me to go. 

DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging habit, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. You may see a full disclosure by clicking on my "About" page. I will only promote products that I use, enjoy, or take a shine to. All opinions and reviews are my own and are not influenced by any compensation I may receive.


Anger : what it says about me, and how two questions make all the difference

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I found myself breathless as I hung up the phone.

I could hardly believe the words that still echoed in my ears.

I was angry. Very, very angry. 

A simple mistake on my part led to a tongue-lashing that set my heart pounding fast and plummeted me into self-doubt. I choked out some excuse to the office assistant and headed to my husbands office and privacy so I could cry.

And cry I did.

And then, because my husband happened upon his very upset wife when he came back to get a start on his paperwork, I cried and also vented my anger to him in short, loud, furious bursts.

"How dare she say that to me?"

"I just can't do this anymore!"

"How could someone be so inconsiderate?!"

"I'm only human! What do they expect of me!?"


Blessings this Week: 09.16.2016 Edition

I begin our weekly blessings post with a story.

A dog story.

On Saturday, our dog was not acting like his happy self. He was mopey, not terribly excited to see us, eating slowly (not at all typical for him), and he was walking and sitting funny. He got worse as the weekend went on, and by Monday, I was sure we were going to have to put him down.

To the vet we went- and an exam and a painkiller pill later, Bear was back to his happy self.

And now I've been taking seven million pictures of him, reminding him that he's my big handsome boy, taking long walks, and most of all, appreciating all those funny habits of his that make me smile.

Sometimes it takes a storm to really show the beauty of a sunset. (Cheesy, but true.)

Counting blessings is like that. Sometimes, in the hardest seasons, we find the most beauty.


Unnamed Summer : and some news.


The leaves are (already) starting to fall, the morning dew is cool on my feet, and my office is strangely quiet.

Summer is over.


Forging a New Trail : being renewed through identity in Christ

Christian devotion identity in Christ who Christians are transformed by the renewing of the mind

We're riding a four-wheeler to the end of our pasture when I see it.

A simple evening ride, relaxing the shoulders, breathing deep, listening to the wind through the long grass that we still haven't bothered to mow. These moments are ones for which I'm trying to make intentional room in the middle of all the busy- eating peaches on the porch, an extra moment to notice how the light spills over the floor, an evening ride with my husband through the land that I'm still a little shy to call "mine."

We turn to head back home, and I notice.


Blessings this Week: 09.09.2016

This week has gone by like... like it included a holiday weekend, no work on Monday, and lots of activity. 

So it went fast. 

And I'm reminded, once again, that life moves quickly and if I focus only on the to-do lists and the plans and crossing out boxes on my calendar, I just might miss the actual "life" part of life. 

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Integrity : living in honesty by clinging to identity

Christian devotion identity in Christ Jesus shapes who we are lies and honesty

The headlights cut through the dark as we headed home. It was late, but that was okay.

I was still bubbling from the evening.

Energized by the conversation, my extroverted, albeit somewhat socially awkward, self was far from tired, even though it was way past my bedtime. I’d told a funny story at our couples small group, and it brought lots of laughter. Making people laugh, people I didn’t know well, brought me so much happiness. I flung out another silly anecdote, and that one hit home with the group, too.

Now, on the way home, I smiled at the memory of the evening. A successful night.

My husband drove quietly next to me, and in the light of a passing car, I saw his expression. He was unhappy.

But why? We’d just had so much fun! What could he possibly be upset about?

“What’s wrong?” I asked, almost put out that he was spoiling a nice night.

He recounted one of the funny stories I’d told, adding, “But I didn’t say that. You lied. And it wasn’t nearly that dramatic. Why did you lie about it?”


Blessings this Week: 09.02.2016

And just like that, September rolls in and marks the easing into Fall.

These transition times can force us into a noticing again. Suddenly I'm reminded that the summer is waning and the days are getting shorter and I'd better find the summertime blessings before they're gone.

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Fear: how two simple questions change everything

identity in christ how to overcome fear christian jesus devotion about who we are in christ

My hands shook as I walked to the front of the chapel.

My throat is closing up, I overreacted inwardly. Just watch. I’ll burst into tears as soon as I start talking. My voice is going to shake and I’ll do that funny nervous twitch thing with my face. It’s going to be terrible.

Despite my inner freak out, I made it to the stage and turned to face the group of people in front of me.

Why did I have to be sick last week?

I missed my turn to share my devotion to the sixty-some college age camp counselors due to an early summer cold, or maybe it was allergies. In any case, now I’d be providing the devotion not only to the counselors, but to a group of theologians who had come on retreat.

They stuck out in this group- dressed business casual among a sea of Chacos and camp t-shirts. I glanced anxiously at the few rows of heads with graying hair in the middle of the man-buns, ponytails and French braids.

Public speaking was bad enough just in front of the counselors… but this? This was just impossible. I was unqualified and silly and had no formal theological training, and here I was. Front and center.

I heard my first shaky breath, picked up by the microphone. It was surprising that my pounding heartbeat wasn’t audible through the chapel speakers.


Blessings these Weeks: 08.19.2016 and 08.26.2016

It's so important, so vital to my mental and spiritual health, to find the blessings every day. In the mundane. In the boring, the routine.

That's where the miracle is.

But then, when you take a break from the routine and mundane- and you get to live a little exotic and unplanned- you're already practiced in finding the blessings, so you find even more of them. Vacations are even more refreshing, even more rich, when you've already learned to count the blessings.

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motorcycle biker shadow honda mountain black hills south dakota trip

Safe travels and beautiful views


Barn Swallows and Finding a New Place

I woke up one morning this summer, the sun streaming in, even though it was still early.

I took my time getting up; watching the trees swaying in the country breeze, considering that I should probably put a curtain on that window because we've lived here for six months, already and what kind of a grown up am I, anyway? and a curtain would mean I could sleep until my alarm and also, privacy but we don't have any neighbors, so who really cares.

And that's when I saw her. A pretty little barn swallow swooping past my window.

I didn't think much of it. Barn swallows are just one of the lovely gifts that come along with living on twenty-plus acres of quiet farmland.

(I think barn swallows kind of balance out the dusty vehicles from driving down miles of gravel every day.)

Like I said, I didn't think much of it, until I saw her fly past the window again. And again. And again.


Getting It Together: And Free Printable Planner Pages

free printable calendar planner filofax daytimer pages sheets daily schedule

I forgot a dentist appointment the other day.


If there's one thing I do consistently, it's forget that stupid dentist appointment. I don't forget the one in February, oh no. I only forget the August one.

And why?

Why, you ask?

Because it's in August. And August is summer time. And in the summer time, my planning binder rides along with me everywhere I go, but it doesn't really get... opened.

But now it's the middle of August, and now it's time to get myself back together again and start acting like a grown up woman again.