The Rebuild

The Rebuild

Where do you begin when it’s time to rebuild?

We moved into an older house not even a year ago, and the most daunting thing to tackle for us, we knew, would be the back yard. We couldn’t wrap our minds around all that needed to be done. The yard contained decades-old cinderblocks, vines, roots, rocks, pokey bushes, wires, old fence post cement masses whose job to support the old fence ceased to exist years ago.


This Spring we began the rebuild.

The restoration of old homes, yards, buildings has its value, to be sure. It will always involve the removal of things that don’t have any life left in them. Things will look worse before they look better. If someone came right in the middle of the renovation and wasn’t privy to the plans to restore it could look hopeless and beyond repair.


I think that it can seem the same way about things in our lives or the lives of our loved ones if we only look at what we can see right now. Prayers can be prayed for years only for it to seem as if the answer is further away than ever. 


As I stood those months ago, overwhelmed, looking over our back yard and wondering where to begin, I realized what had to be done. There wasn’t any way to plant or add anything on top of all the disrepair that existed. Our attempts would have failed, even if the temporary result looked pretty. It might have seemed like we were making progress, but the problems would still be there underneath all the things that looked good on the surface. The only option was to remove it all and start over, to rebuild something new.

After everything was removed, I could see so clearly where to go from there. Our yard has gone from disastrous to lovely.

God is at work rebuilding broken places even though they might look untouched or even worse off than before our prayers. 


Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. Psalm 127:1

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  Ezekiel 36:26

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17


The work of the heart belongs to God.






Am I Alone?

Am I Alone?

There’s a sort of shame to which a Christian is vulnerable when the joy that is rightfully theirs, in fact a fruit of their salvation, eludes them. Am I alone? can turn to I am all alone.

Popular speakers, songs on the radio, Christian books encourage many with their messages of celebration and joy, but the one who feels on the outside in the middle of deep pain might not hear the content in the same way.

Sometimes joy is so far beyond what another’s felt reality is, those celebrations can unintentionally cut deeply. The should-be(s) feel unattainable.

Some might have the best intentions to help someone suffering with depression and believe that they know the answers – the correct perspective or scripture verse that can lift someone right up out of that pit of sadness. But depression can involve an agonizing wait for the darkness to lift. Believers are subject to the effects of this fallen world like anyone else, and depression shouldn’t be over-simplified.

Most believers know the beautiful hope and promises in the Bible. But when those things seem out of reach, it is excruciating. It is so easy to see how depression has its own skewed lens once you’ve been through it and have come out of it. But those in the middle of the dark valley must hold tight to God’s Word and wait for His light as it comes.

I don’t understand every cause of depression, though I know there are a number of factors that can thrust someone into its grip. I am not an expert, but I have walked through this pain. 

One of the things that hurts so much with depression is the feeling of failure – not understanding why it’s happening – wondering what is wrong with you. The world carries on, and you feel SO VERY ALONE. You try to figure out how you got here, and why can’t you get up and get out of it? It can lead to self-blame, self-loathing. 

You listen to those messages as they scream their subtext – Something is wrong with you, your faith, your eligibility for joy. Somewhere along the way you were disqualified from this thriving, abundant life. That’s a distorted interpretation, a lie that seems so true.

Depression is not a spiritual failure. God is ever close to the broken-hearted.

It is tempting to withdraw from social interaction and hide away. It is painful and difficult to carry on as if nothing’s wrong, so you stay away from probing questions about how you are or what’s new – steer clear of the microscope. The feeling that you could never make someone understand what you’re going through is paralyzing. But it’s so important to stay connected. There are others with strong faith in God who have suffered with depression. Isolation just separates us from the ability to see through another, more healthy lens. If you are low, suffering, let your brothers and sisters be strong to hold you up. Reach out to someone who can encourage you, pray for you, check on you. You are not alone.

Believe it or not, your hard-earned perspective that comes from this suffering and your vulnerability in your pain could make all the difference for someone else who feels alone in theirs. It is not untrue that God uses all of it for His purpose and glory and good. Trust that it is not all for nothing. Trust and rest your mind, for God carries you.

These verses (and many others) have helped me in past seasons of depression – supplying breath for my lungs, and my soul with bread and living water sufficient for the minute, hour, day.

LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. Psalm 131:1, 2

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning – yes, more than those who watch for the morning. Psalm 130:5, 6

Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah Psalm 61:1-4

Hold on, dear friend. There are still wonders to be seen and prayers to be answered. God is still and always will be good. Trust in His word. It is a lamp, a light in the darkness. Trust His love for you. He is your shield, your glory and the lifter of your head.

Am I Alone

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31


The Family of God

The Family of God

It’s been a while since I’ve written about our ministry at the rehabilitation hospital where my husband and I hold a church service one Sunday a month, and I go by myself and sing for them one Thursday a month. My heart continues to fill with gratitude for the opportunity to share God’s love with the beautiful people who stay there. It is a place of truest fellowship.

Like almost everyone, I have many hats to wear, and it can be overwhelming!

After writing and publishing my first novel in February, I have had endless tasks I’m supposed to do to promote the book and establish myself as an author. Let me tell you, it isn’t a little overwhelming. I’ve attempted a number of tries to increase my “success”. Ugh, just the sound of that word makes me get nervous, dreadful butterflies. All of the profiles I’m supposed to adjust or create, researching the keywords that are supposed to make all the difference in getting noticed on Amazon, transitioning my blog to an author’s website – it is not profitable for my mental (and spiritual) health to work so hard to complete all of these things. It throws off my “economy” of what matters and causes a disturbing discontent when it doesn’t work like it’s supposed to. I start to aim for the wrong type of satisfaction – worldly instead of eternal. It’s not that I can’t keep striving to figure it all out, but the cost is too high for me when I let it matter too much. How badly do I want sales and recognition and prestige? Well, thank God, not badly enough! (I’m quite sure that sharing these things on my website as an “author” is exactly what I’m not supposed to do.) lol!

My husband and I (well, mostly me except for our new deck) have been so hard at work making a new yard out of what was a decades’ old neglected disaster. Phew!

Then there are the home beautifying projects that consume a lot of my time, though I enjoy them immensely! Something is always begging for me to bring some creative adjustment to it.

In all these things, and more, that vie for my time and energy, I am always set right-side-up again when it comes time for our ministry twice a month.

I’ve tried to describe it, but I am so moved each time it happens, I don’t think I can do it justice. I’m talking about the feeling of belonging to the eternal family of God.

There are some in attendance who aren’t believers. Just recently (and this has happened a few times in the last 7 years) as soon as I started to sing about Jesus, a resident and her family member were visibly irritated and soon left. It’s distracting when that happens. More than that, it’s upsetting to feel and witness a rejection of the message of God’s love for them. It makes you wonder about the hardened heart and how it got to be that way. If they would only stay long enough to hear that God loves them with a love like no other.

From some throughout the years, there have been guarded responses that have turned to joy after trust is established and the Gospel is shared. I have no idea who has put their faith in Jesus as God has led us to share His hope through music and the Bible. I pray there have been some. I tell them often that God put His love in my heart for them, and from what I can tell, they believe my heartfelt declaration.

The most awesome thing is when the residents – with all sorts of physical limitations – who are believers worship together with us. It is a heavenly experience when the presence of God is in and around our gathering. I have broken down in tears. We have had such sweet times of worship give us just a glimpse of how Heaven will be. I’ve described it as the feeling of being in a spiritual bubble of protection and glory, joined together with otherwise strangers or friends we never would have met, but in the kingdom of God – brothers and sisters. We are singing about, talking about, praying to the One True God, and He is in our midst.

I get emotional when understanding a sliver of God’s goodness to us. I so often fail to recognize Him. Forgive me, Lord. He has given us each other, brothers and sisters in Christ, to love one another, to carry each other’s burdens, to worship our Father together. It is tough down here on Earth, this temporary home, but part of His provision for us is one another.

You might have guessed what my message was on this last Sunday – yes! – The Family of God. I even pulled out the old Gaither hymn “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God…” I had to relearn it since it had been so many years since I’d sung it in church with many who have gone on to be with Jesus, who I will worship with again someday. It was something ordered and timely and though it didn’t go off without a hitch, it was PERFECT and glorious! I’ll share the two verses:

You will notice we say "brother and sister" 'round here,
It's because we're a family and these folks are so near;
When one has a heartache, we all share the tears,
And rejoice in each victory in this family so dear.

From the door of an orphanage to the house of the King, 
No longer an outcast, a new song I sing;
From rags unto riches, from the weak to the strong,
I'm not worthy to be here, 
But PRAISE GOD! I belong!

What a gift He has given to us!

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! 
It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore. Psalm 133:1-3

I am so grateful for all the encouragement and positive feedback I have received for my book! Every single person who reached out to me was an uplifting and heartfelt blessing. Thank you so much.

Though I will still be tempted to find fulfillment in the non-eternal sparkles of this world (not all bad, just bad for me when it gets out of balance), no ounce of affirmation, accolade or goal reached will ever come close to those eternal blessings. I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God!

The Family of God

This Is the Day the LORD Has Made



One Ordinary Easter – A Story (Part Two)

One Ordinary Easter – A Story (Part One)

Continued…(click on above link to read part one)

I couldn’t believe where I was that day. Looking around me, the atmosphere in the building and my own personal headspace felt like two separate places where neither was accessible to the other.

I had spent the week in Colorado to work a wedding in a small town. The beauty was easy to capture. The job had been more of a week’s-long get-away that paid a lot of money. The wedding had been the day before – on a Saturday, so I planned to take off right after with my two assistants, back to New York. Yet, here I was, sitting inside a church building despite my commitment to never step foot in another. I hadn’t even realized what day it was until after the service started – Easter Sunday.

No one from the wedding party even lived there in the small town except for the groom’s grandparents, whom I sat next to on the wooden pew. The only reason I had agreed to attend was because the groom’s grandma reminded me so much of my own grandma and I couldn’t find a way to turn down her invitation. I hadn’t spoken to my grandma in years, and I missed her.

The songs they sang that Easter were more than familiar, I remembered their lyrics from years ago. I could see my twin sister, my mom and dad sitting all in a row on the family pew as we routinely did all those years ago. Emotions ran high; the weight of regret nearly choking me.

The songs’ effect on me had turned from covering me with an unsettling feeling of nostalgia to tears pushing hard on my eyes, but I would not cry. I did not believe what the songs said. I hoped the others standing next to me didn’t notice my internal agony.

When I was in high school I began to wonder what was wrong that I didn’t have the same experience as my family members or that of my friends in youth group. I brushed the doubt aside until I got to college and was confronted not a few times about my faith. At first, I tried to say all the right things to defend my beliefs, but I found I couldn’t answer with conviction. If I ever had any faith at all, whatever was there withered away. That distance I had felt from my Christian family and friends grew into a desperate situation. The ache in my heart wouldn’t allow me to keep pretending.

I attempted to talk with my parents, to talk about the holes in I found in Christianity. I was terrified they wouldn’t be able to convince me I was wrong. I hoped deep down that they could set me straight and I could have faith like the rest of them. The outcome was as I had feared. They were solid, immovable in their faith in God, Jesus, the Bible, but I could not see. To my surprise, they didn’t try too hard to convince me I was wrong. I could see both love and pain in their faces, and that was when I knew I had to leave. I would never be who everyone else wanted me to be.

My twin sister was the only one I called from time to time. I was so angry at God for my crisis of faith, but that frustrated me because I had determined to not believe in Him. My family had their faith, and though they never treated me that way, I was the outsider. The pain was nearly unbearable. I chose a separate life.

But that day years later in small-town Colorado, that ordinary Sunday that happened to be Easter, I found myself in church. If I hadn’t been so freaked out, I could have laughed at the absurdity. I heard the same words I had heard throughout my life, but something happened that morning. It might sound strange, but it felt like my dead soul stirred within my chest. The pastor told us that Jesus willingly died a sinner’s death because of His love for us. He pointed out that Jesus could have called for His own deliverance out of that death sentence, but He went to the cross for the joy set before Him – His love for us. This blew my mind. How could I have understood it any other way? Oh, I fought the weeping that was sure to come from the desire to repent and from the joy I felt. I was blind before, but I could see now! The love of God enveloped me in that little church where I sat next to the lady who reminded me so much of my grandma.

I was hesitant to call my grandma because I was so ashamed that I had walked away from our friendship. My selfishness had hurt her, I knew. But she was the one I thought to tell about what had happened to me. I didn’t get to tell her that day.

Three days after I had been awakened to new life, I made the journey I needed to make. I saw my family for the first time in years. The circumstances were heavy. My mom and dad and sister were the same as I left them. I loved them. How I had missed them. There were a lot of tears. We cried for my return, we cried for Grandma.

Grandma had suffered a stroke on the same day I gave my life to Jesus. I had thought of her so much that day. The thought of never telling her I was sorry, never sharing the best news of my life with her, made me ache with regret. But she awoke against the odds, with her family by her side, myself included. Tears on her face and unable to communicate, no one could miss the joy in her eyes as I stood closest to her.

This morning I have a gift for my grandpa who has lived alone now for almost a year. Grandma regained most of her speech over the course of a year. She was so excited about the project I worked on for her. I will give it to Grandpa who knew how much it meant to Grandma. We will bear our grief together.

I presented him with a book of photography that displayed images I’d collected over the last four years since my life was forever changed. I had wanted to photograph church buildings like the one in Colorado that now meant so much to me. Maybe others knew this, but I soon found that many church buildings are not the stunning old stained-glass windowed structures with pews and a steeple one might imagine. Those types are in my book, and they are beautiful to behold, but I also captured the churches that were in office buildings, strip malls, libraries, schools, parks and homes. I traveled overseas and discovered that some who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus sometimes have to secretly and strategically meet together. Though there are no photographs of these churches, I wrote about them in my book.

I had begun by photographing the church buildings, but I discovered the church was the people, and I was more intrigued with the life of the church. I started visiting the churches I photographed. That’s when the content for my book took a slight turn. I began to ask permission ahead of time to photograph the church (the people) in action. There are images of hands raised in worship, tears streaming down faces with eyes closed in prayer, embraces of greeting and comfort, close-ups of worn Bibles with highlights and notes covering every inch of the pages, groups lined up to feed the homeless communities and showing up to volunteer work days at the homes of their brothers and sisters who need help, potlucks, Easter plays, baby dedications, children running around with big smiles.

The last photograph in the book is of me at around four years old asleep in a church pew with my head resting on my grandma’s lap.

The name of my book is Resurrected Life.

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whose You have sent. John 17:3
Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it rom Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to take it again. this command I have received from my Father. John 10:17, 18
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life, He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. John 11:25






One Ordinary Easter - A Story (Part One)

One Ordinary Easter – A Story (Part One)

Betty sipped her coffee as she sat in the predawn morning on her front porch. She loved to be alone in the mornings as much as she loved visiting with her husband when he typically got out of bed a couple hours after her. This morning was an ordinary morning, aside from the fact that in just a few hours they would be singing along to all the traditional Easter songs she’d memorized in church as a child. Church would be lively as it was most Sundays, and Easter Sundays were the liveliest. She felt an excitement for the celebration of the resurrection of her Lord. There were no butterflies of awe and wonder like she would have liked, but she knew Easter would be lovely.

“I know you like your alone time, but I thought I’d do something out of the ordinary on this fine Easter morning and join you before the sun is up. That okay with you?” Betty’s husband of 53 years knew her well.

“That would be nice. We can watch the sun light up the morning together.” She hid any hint of wishing she had just a few more minutes to herself.

The couple sat in their rocking chairs in comfortable silence. Were they both remembering the Easters of their child rearing days? Betty loved to remember those days they had with their daughters. Twin girls to dress up! Not a single Easter had gone by without the fanfare of the finest Easter outfits. Even in their teen years her daughters had allowed their mom to be involved in picking out the perfect dresses and shoes. When the time came to search for prom dresses, and then wedding dresses, they breezed through as seasoned veterans!

Betty broke the silence with a giggle.

“Thinking about the perms?” Her husband asked with humor.

“Yes! That was the only year they wore Easter hats as teenagers! Jesse wouldn’t even let us talk about it until she and Jeanie were almost thirty!” Betty and her husband laughed so hard they had shush each other to not wake the neighbors.

Margot and Mason, her grandchildren and also twins (a girl and a boy), were the first of the grandkids – Jessie’s two. Then Jeanie and her husband adopted brothers through fostering. Betty thought she knew joy before, but a whole different kind of joy was born in her when she became a grandma – a joy that surprised and overwhelmed her.

Betty put every ounce of herself into loving on those grandkids. She and her husband didn’t miss a single event of their lives. Nothing filled her more than when one of them, now young adults with lives of their own, called her on the phone or stopped in for a surprise visit.

Mason had followed her around everywhere as soon as crawling gave him mobility. Grandma’s boy. The sun rose and set on her as far as she could tell through his eyes. He looked out for her as he got older, always remembering to invite her and his grandpa to his sporting events and offering to help her in the kitchen or with her yard work. She had a box of the drawings and letters he’d given her throughout the years of his life. The letters no longer came, nor did the phone calls or visits.

In church later that morning as she sang, “He’s risen, He’s risen, He’s risen! Ha-lle-lu-jah! Ha-lle-lu-jah!”, Betty pictured Jesus walking out of that tomb and goosebumps tickled her arms. What a mighty God! She reached her hands in the air and rejoiced for the love that compelled Jesus to die for the redemption and salvation that had set her free. She praised God for the power of the Resurrection that defeated sin and death. Jesus is alive! Hope sprung up in her to overflowing.

Their pastor asked if anyone would like to know this Jesus. As he explained repentance and redemption and eternal life, Betty prayed for her grandson.

It had been over three years since she had laid eyes on Mason. Though he called his twin sister every birthday they shared, he hadn’t been close to anyone in the family for years. He was going to be 29 soon. How could that be?

Betty’s son-in-law barbecued for Easter these days. The less formal setting ended up creating a regular young adult gathering each Easter, and the parents and grandparents loved it. Margot had just been engaged to be married, and this year her fiancé’s parents and younger siblings would be joining them as well.

Betty loved how life evolved with each new stage. She had so much more peace now than in her younger years. It took her long enough to learn not to try to foresee the outcome of anything. She took in her surroundings and delighted in the sound of her family laughing and playing in the warmth of the sun.

Margot hadn’t mean to startle her when she looped her arm through her grandma’s. “Grandma, I am so nervous! They’ll all be here soon, and I won’t be able to stand it if they don’t see how amazing you all are. I still haven’t really bonded with Micah’s parents. His sister and brother are still only in high school, but they seem to like me, I think. Do you think we will all still be able to have Easters together after everyone gets married and has kids of their own?”

Her granddaughter’s question was a good one. “Margot, things do change over time. I know it’s hard to let old traditions slide into new ones, but it doesn’t mean that anything is wrong. Whatever new and special traditions you all make as you begin your own families, you’ll always have these memories. They’re like a treasure that will always be yours.” Just then Mason’s 10-year-old face singing in the Easter musical at church flashed before her. Would he feel the same way about the memories? Ironically, it was the subject matter of this day they celebrated that he was so angry about right before he left without saying goodbye.

Mason had experienced success in his young professional life. His family knew through his short and infrequent conversations with his twin sister that he owned a highly sought after photography business in New York City. He had made it big.

It was his junior year of college when things changed. He had been challenged by a professor to explain how a Father who was an all powerful God could kill His own Son who was innocent. Mason had never heard it put that way before, as he had explained to his mom and dad. It shook him. It had also been suggested to him that maybe he had only believed because that was the way he’d been told to believe. His parents couldn’t give him an answer that would satisfy his angst over this crushing perspective. Angry and disillusioned, he walked away and never looked back.

Pictures. Her daughters were picture takers, both of them. Mason apparently got the gene from his mom and aunt. Maybe one Betty could see some of his work.

She always wished she had taken more pictures of her family in all its stages. Jessie and Jeanie loved candids, but they also could make a group groan with the arrangements for a good few hundred group photos. All they were waiting on today for those dreaded group pictures were the guests of honor to arrive, Margot’s in-laws-to-be.

The dogs started to bark and everyone turned to Margot. Poor girl looked scared to death. She went inside to welcome her guests. Introductions were swift and awkward. Margot cringed and gave her mom a pleading look as she positioned everyone, newly arrived guests and all, for the group photo. The misery was short-lived.

Betty’s two grandsons caught her as her knees buckled. “Oh, Jesus. Oh, Jesus, thank you!”

(click on the link below to read the rest of the story)

One Ordinary Easter – A Story (Part Two)








His Righteousness

His Righteousness

His Righteousness, Not Our Own

*I first posted this almost five years ago. I have updated it by changing the title to His Righteousness, and making it more concise. I also included a quote from Jim Stier’s book The Way of Faith and provided a link to that book. 


Years ago, I finally understood something that has changed how I think about what it looks like to glorify God. I saw how much effort I spent striving to do everything right, truly believing that a good witness for Christ could not have glacier-sized weaknesses. I was so tired. My failures brought weariness to my soul, burying me in self-loathing and condemnation. I relied only on what I could see in front of me. My faults were haunting me and keeping me absorbed with myself. This kind of living was fruitless.

One time a friend gently implied to me that I cared too much about image management. Of course I didn’t want to hear it, but it struck my heart in that -the truth hurts, but I needed to hear it- kind of way.

His RighteousnessGood works are part of walking out our faith (So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. James 2:17 NLT), but the good that flows from our lives is a work of the Spirit of God in us. Jesus is our righteousness. We are made righteous by His death on the cross where He paid the penalty for all our sin. There is no other way to be clean and free. No amount or quality of our good works can save us.

If we continuously try to earn His love and favor then we are not really trusting in the cross of Christ, and it sends the incorrect message to the lost. He gave His life for me and I owe my life to Him. Our goal in doing good should be to glorify Him, to love Him with obedience, all the while knowing that He alone has saved us. I love Him because He loved me first. The score will never be even between what we have to offer and the righteousness that Jesus freely provided when He laid down His life for us.

His Righteousness

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Being justified freely by His grace
Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
Whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood,
Through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness,
Because in His forbearance
God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,
To demonstrate at the present time His righteousness,
That He might be just and the justifier of the one
Who has faith in Jesus.
Where is boasting then?
It is excluded.
By what law? Of works?
No, but by the law of faith.

Romans 3:23-27

His Righteousness

It is common for those who haven’t yet made a decision to follow Jesus to possess the notion that they need to get their lives together before they can receive Christ. Maybe some think that we are saved because of the good in ourselves, not understanding that any good in us – His light and life in us – is all Him. That is the miracle of a rescued soul, a changed life and healed heart. That our eyes have been opened and we have turned from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God (Acts 26:18), now walking in truth. Would that this be our message – never shying away from the truth that we are completely dependent on Him at all times. We need Him every minute of every day, and He carries us.

The Bible teaches us that no one can ever be good enough to earn their way to God. I pray that we who love Him and want to witness to the world about Him will send a message that we are being held together only by the loving grace and mercy of God. What if the world saw our vulnerabilities and weaknesses and we took pride only in what Jesus has done for us? What if the cross of Christ was what we wanted to show and nothing of our own doing –   proclaiming His love and forgiveness and restoration and healing and salvation?

His Righteousness

In his book The Way of Faith – Thriving in Your Walk with God (link below – I highly recommend it), Jim Stier writes this:

“On this journey, He’s not counting how many times we fail but watching whether we’re continuing our journey of faith with honesty. Faith gives us the strength and security necessary to be done with pretending. It dispenses with the need to protect ourselves through masks of hypocrisy. When He who is absolute glory and greatness has adopted and filled you, it is no longer important to impress anyone. He is your security and identity.”

His Righteousness

I am a  sinner who has been redeemed, rescued, and changed by the grace and love and forgiveness of the One True God through Jesus’ death and resurrection, saved for all eternity – may that be my witness.

Stand Fast

Stand Fast

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1
Stand Fast
The Narrow Path
Stand Fast

Stand fast in the Lord. As Christians we have been given the gift of salvation and peace with God – our sins have been forgiven and we have been set free. Our primary purpose is to glorify God, to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. He calls us to take up our cross and follow Him, to serve and love others, to esteem our brothers and sisters above ourselves, to share the gospel. He is our portion, our sustenance and joy. This life isn’t all there is; He has prepared an eternal home for us. We find comfort knowing that our future is in His hands, our God who is LOVE.

These are beautiful and clear truths for the one who believes.

Still, we can and do struggle. We can know all of the promises and hope contained in God’s word and still have a death grip on things that ensnare us.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

The enemy of our souls tries to hit us with lies where we already hurt so that we won’t walk in the liberty by which Christ has made us free.

When the truth of the situation is the very thing that causes such pain and turmoil, we need to apply God’s Word and view it through the lens of the One who is Truth. God has the final say, and He has a future planned for His beloved that is victorious!

Stand Fast
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worth of praise. Philippians 4:8
Stand Fast
Look to the Light
You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, for in YAH, the LORD, is everlasting strength. Isaiah 26:3, 4

Recently, I wrote in my journal, asking God to deliver me from fear that I have battled most of my life. I asked that He strengthen my faith and help me to pray. I expressed my need for His Truth and Light. Purely. Recognizable. Immediately after I closed my journal I turned to the front of my Bible and read a verse that I had written there some time ago and hadn’t noticed in a long time. It was Galatians 5:1.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. 

Though in this verse, Paul was talking about how we can’t save ourselves through religious practices, the principle spoke so clearly to my heart. In any and every situation that threatens us we should stand fast in the liberty by which Christ has made us free and not be entangled with a yoke of bondage. My fear has entangled me; God wants my soul to be free to trust Him completely. I may always struggle with this, I don’t know, but this verse was a balm for my soul in the moment I asked for help from God. Light flooded in and my soul felt His comforting peace.

Light in the Darkness

I also wrote in the front of my Bible some time ago:

What is this life but to know You and be known by You?

Without You I have nothing. In You, I have hope for every moment I’m alive.

In You, my soul has EVERLASTING LIFE.

You are my hope. You are my light.



Stand Fast.








Favorite Little Things – House and Home (peel and stick wallpaper)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted in the Favorite Little Things category. Today we’ll look at Favorite Little Things – House and Home (peel and stick wallpaper)! I think I’ll bring the Favorite Little Things category back every so often, with a series on House and Home. I would love to hear your creative ideas, too! I love to be inspired that way.

One of my favorite hobbies is interior decorating. I play with function and overall feel with my ideas. I always aim to have the result be a room that is comfortable and that we enjoy occupying. I get so many ideas that I am eager to try, so I use my own home as my canvas. I change things often!

My interior decorating budget has always been small. I learned years ago, when we had no extra funds for such frivolities, to be creative by using and repurposing what I already had. I still keep a very small budget for my decorating hobby, so I’m always trying to think of inexpensive ways to transform a room. It’s so satisfying to create something while spending little to nothing.

I have recently incorporated peel and stick wallpaper. There are plenty of colors, styles and patterns to choose from. The installation is easy to get the hang of (no pun intended ha ha) once you’ve given it a few tries. I have noticed that the better the quality, the easier it is to put up. However, there are beautiful and inexpensive options that work just fine. I haven’t bought any that are too pricey, but the ones I spent a little more on are a bit easier to work with. They are not permanent, but they will last as long as you want them to stay. Peel and stick wall paper is perfect for renters as it will personalize a space beautifully and leave no trace upon moving.

Favorite Little Things - House and Home (peel and stick wallpaper)
Peel and stick behind the dishes on the shelves adds a pop of interest.
peel and stick wallpaper for stair risers
Peel and stick made specifically for stair risers.
Favorite Little Things - House and Home (peel and stick wallpaper)
This is the smallest little section of wall, but packs a big punch to add character.


Favorite Little Things - House and Home (peel and stick wallpaper)
Favorite Little Things - House and Home (peel and stick wallpaper)
Favorite Little Things - House and Home (peel and stick wallpaper)
The two images above this one are on this same wall. You can see when looking at the overall perspective, it adds interest and texture, but still is relatively neutral in the overall look.

I realized very early into my decorating attempts that nothing is too permanent – that you can change it if you don’t like it or you get tired of it. It’s not all that risky, really, if the budget is kept low. Some people do like higher-end approaches, so I can understand that might make it more difficult to have a whimsical mindset in regards to interior decorating.

Either way, there’s always a cupboard or closet or shelf that could use a little life brought to it. It’s so enjoyable to make ordinary things pretty – lining a junk drawer, wallpapering the back of your closet, or the back of a china hutch.

This peel and stick sits in an old window and covers a black window shelf that fell flat in the overall feel of the room. Look closely to see that even the plastic pot that sits in the brass bowl has a decorative paper wrapped around it.

I love getting new ideas. Some of them are inspired by Pinterest or magazines or design shows, but some come from just looking at a space that feels like it needs something to complete it or make it pretty. Not everything works like I think it will. But funny enough, usually the “misses” are what end up in the coolest outcomes.

Happy decorating!

Thrift Stores, Dryers, and Swamp Coolers (Favorite Little Things)

Inspire to Create, Create to Inspire




One of the good things about having to wait on something is that it makes the thing we wait for all the more sweet when it finally arrives.

My son and I were talking about how much we love the desert. We reviewed some of its attributes: the wide open skies that boast vibrant colors on the cusp of the sun’s coming or going – skies that, just a short distance from town, reveal billions of stars that dazzle against the backdrop of the black expanse.


As we talked about the crisp, clean morning air of the desert and the earth-toned colors of the mountains that surround in the distance, I looked forward to the coming seasons of Spring and Summer.


This has been quite the winter here in Northern Nevada (and it’s not over yet)! We have had more snow than any winter I can remember, and it feels like one of the coldest. The snow has been both thrilling and cumbersome. I haven’t heard anyone complain about the water supply it has provided – the whole community is grateful for that. The snow that turns to ice (because of the below average cold) is soon covered by another layer of snow, creating layers of frozen ground that takes forever to melt! When it finally melts it is messy. It does a number on driveways, roads, sidewalks – these are the things that make us grow weary of winter.


The snow is beautiful and makes an early morning feel so cozy. But soon we will have warmth and buds and blossoms and green ground again before we know it.

So we wait to feel the warmth of the sun.

So much of life is waiting.

Waiting for a due date.

Waiting for a reunion.

We wait for answers. What is the plan now? When the answer isn’t clear, we wait.

We pray for salvation for our loved ones and trust that God is working. We wait.

We wait for answers to prayers we have been praying for many years.

We wait for healing.

We wait for things to change, to get better.

We wait for that vacation, for rest.

We wait for reconciliation, restoration.

Maybe all of life is waiting and what we do while we wait, what we believe and where we place our hope.

There is a purpose for the wait.

Dane Ortlund writes in his book Gentle and Lowly:

Those in union with him are promised that all the haunted brokenness that infects everything – every relationship, every conversation, every family, every email, every wakening to consciousness in the morning, every job, every vacation – everything – will one day be rewound and reversed. The more darkness and pain we experience in this life, the more resplendence and relief in the next.

The waiting can produce in us a hope that is true. We are forced to see a bigger picture of life and time and eternity. We learn to trust God in the agonizing gulf of the wait. We learn to find our joy and strength and life and peace in Him and not in temporary things that have the potential to fail us.

Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD! Psalm 27:14

This is the day the Lord has made

This Is the Day the LORD Has Made

Lord, when I awake each morning, especially those mornings when fear and dread are my first reality, may my heart remember these things about the day You have made:

This is the day the Lord has made

This is the day that the Lord has made – (a day where:)

  • Your love for me remains and will not fail.
  • Brand new mercies cover me.
  • I can learn better to hear Your voice that tells me not to fear.
  • I can hold Your hand and talk to You in the middle of every difficulty.
  • I can take comfort in the reality that this life on earth is temporary, as are our trials.
  • No matter what, one day there will be no more fear or dread for tomorrow, no more tears shed from broken hearts, no more pain.
  • You will provide all that I need.
  • I can practice fixing my eyes on You and remember that this day (and every day) is about You.
  • I need not fear tomorrow, for You are LORD over all my tomorrows and will only allow what will work together for good – even if it’s dark, I know You are working.

I will rejoice and be glad in it – (by Your grace, help me to:)

  • Remember to bless You with a grateful heart
  • Tell of Your goodness
  • Remember and delight in Your great works.
  • Sing Your praises
  • Be amazed that You (the Creator of all things and LORD of all) love me!
  • Fix my eyes on You
  • Be in awe of Your majesty and power and sovereignty and wisdom
  • Fear You in awe and reverence and not demand to understand all the ways You work to carry out Your plans
  • Accept Your love and forgiveness and love you in return
  • Give You this day to use my life for Your glory
This is the day the Lord has made
This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24
You are my God, and I will praise You; You are my God, and I will exalt You. 
Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever. Psalm 118:28, 29
This is the day the Lord has made
A Big Announcement

A Big Announcement

In high school I had an English teacher named Mrs. Baxter. She was the teacher everyone dreaded because she was so tough. More than once, she praised my essays only to give me a B+. I believe I only received a full A two or three times in her class. My brother had her his senior year (I graduated the year before). He said that having her after I did was a nightmare because she always wanted him to ask me for help. We had a good laugh over that, but deep down it fed something in me, a desire to write.

A Big Announcement

I loved Mrs. Baxter’s class. She ended up being my favorite teacher. She would not settle for mediocrity from her students. They were going to learn in her class and come out better for it. I learned so much in her class about essay structure and effective communication, but the most impactful thing I learned was an interest in writing.

Now, I have to confess that I was not at all diligent to put time into my essays. Though we were given plenty of time to complete our essays, I usually wrote the entire thing – rough draft and all – in the periods before her class on the day they were due! However, there were some topics she assigned that were important to me, and I remember pouring over them, taking them seriously and not waiting until the last minute. These I still remember.

The one I remember best was a persuasive speech we had to write. I chose the topic of abortion from a pro-life perspective. I had no idea how many in my class were pro-life, but I knew of at least a few that were for the right to choose. The speech was in favor of life. I had to stand up and read it to the whole class. I remember hearing clapping and receiving a rare A on my paper. Writing was a powerful tool. Good job helping us to see that, Mrs. Baxter.

The passion for reading came in my early 20s – I began to love the Bible and Christian books that encouraged young mothers, and I got into reading Christian historical novels. I learned to love biographies when I homeschooled my boys. Reading to them through the years of their early homeschooling is a memory that I cherish.

The love of reading has just settled deeper inside my heart. I am giddy when I have a stack of books on the nightstand next to my bed waiting for me. I have read many books that are difficult by way of telling a tragic story or telling an historical account I can barely wrap my mind around. I love to read true things, even if they’re hard. What I don’t love to read are books that have a lot of garbage in them for the sake of being salacious or for sheer shock and awe. I love a book that I can trust – one where the author wants to tell a story with authenticity and respect for the people in that story ( true or fictional, mystery or love story, suspense or sorrow).

You may have guessed what I am leading up to with all this talk of reading and writing.

A Big Announcement

In February of 2020 I set out to write a novel. I had begun to write a prayer book for parents a couple years before that but felt unqualified to finish. Maybe someday. I never dreamed I would attempt to write a novel. I have always been in awe of people who could do that, and though I planned to write, I always figured it would be non-fiction. But…I have just published my first novel on Amazon! It is in ebook and print formatting. I plan to release it on a couple more platforms as well. It took me almost three years, but I finished!

The part I am so nervous about is promoting my book! That will be a challenge for me. I still haven’t ever put my blog on Facebook! As much as I want my blog to grow, I have never taken the steps recommended to get more followers because I feel uncomfortable to promote my work.

I plan to move outside my comfort zone little by little and learn how to advertise my book in ways that make sense. My first advertisement for my new book is right now on this blog:

Mothers and Fathers, a novel by Debi Spurlock

Book description:

Whitney Sutter hasn’t always known the joy of a happy family. Her husband Jake has given her hope after years of disappointment. She is thankful for the life she and Jake have made together with their young daughter and certain that God had nothing to do with her good fortune. He has been gone from her view since she was a little girl. This belief is confirmed when an unfathomable tragedy shakes her and little Mae’s world.

Whitney’s mother won’t be the mother she needs in this dark time, and she has missed her father since she was eight years old. Now, her own daughter will grow up without a father. Desperate to find solid ground, Whitney foolishly lets her guard down and allows her daughter to form an unlikely bond with Kira Mandrell. Against her better judgement, this new relationship with Kira is providing a salve for their grief. 

Kira Mandrell finally gets the phone call she’s been waiting years to receive. Her joy is short-lived. She has no idea how her life is about to change. She struggles with the choices of her past, but she experiences God’s grace in a surprising way before everything becomes unraveled. She struggles to hold on to hope that her heart can handle whatever the future holds. 

Kyle’s friendship with Kira and Jamie Mandrell has been invaluable on his journey to rebuild his life. They love him as a son. He longs to be a husband and father someday, and he has met the woman with whom he wants to spend the rest of his life. Not a day goes by that he isn’t aware of God’s grace. He won’t let the memories that haunt him ruin the gifts he’s been given. His future is bright. 

I put a link to Amazon at the end of this post.

So, there it is – my big announcement! My heart is pounding! Thank you for supporting my blog these past almost five years. I respond to each comment left, but I know it only shows up here on the blog itself and not back in your emails. I’m working on trying to fix that. This site will stay the same as always, only now it will include “author” stuff from time to time. I still need to see how to merge both together. Thank you, again.

Light of the World

Light of the World

Jesus is the Light of the World.

Light of the World
photo taken by Kobe Spurlock

Light of the World

Light of the World

Another Christmas is behind us, and typically all of life resumes without the sparkly glow that hovers over everything Christmas throughout the beloved season. I am one who can’t take her Christmas decorations down fast enough – not because I have anything against them, but because it is such a huge chore, and I don’t want it hanging over my head. Rarely am I reluctant to say goodbye or do I wish to linger in the decorative atmosphere for just a little while longer. It’s all business come December 26th!

I have a take-away this January, and I still have some Christmas songs playing on my playlist to remind me of it. I feel like continuing the celebration because of the light that shines in the darkness.

I was reading about the birth of Jesus, the prophecies that foretold His coming, and the accounts of the event. There was such anticipation of the coming Messiah, the hope and salvation he would bring. His birth was announced with glorious splendor as the angels appeared to the shepherds. The wise men followed the great light of the star to find Him. It was the most significant event in history that had ever taken place.

I thought about how some are offended by the real reason for Christmas – about how they might ask how the world is any better since He came those many years ago. There is so much pain and disaster and loss in the world, if Jesus came to save us, why doesn’t He rescue mankind from such devastation?

There indeed is so much darkness and pain in this world, and everyone shares this reality on a personal level in some way.

In the Gospel of John Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” I cannot think of anything more HOPEFUL than those words, but what could that mean when the darkness of the world remains?

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. John 1:4, 5

Light of the World

We are not just made of flesh and blood. God made each of us with a soul that will live beyond our earthly lifespan. The Bible refers to the soul over 800 times!

I’ll list a few:

  • But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:29
  • You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5
  • He restores my soul…Psalm 23:3
  • Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance. Psalm 42:5
  • Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him. Psalm 62:1
  • Let my soul live, and it shall praise You…Psalm 119:175
  • Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live…Isaiah 55:3
  • For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16:26
  • For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

Lasting hope, true peace, and salvation are all directly related to the soul.

The light that Jesus gives is a soul light. His salvation is a soul salvation.

I have hope deep down in my soul because of His love for me. I am never alone. He will never leave me or forsake me.

Light of the World

He will wipe away our tears. One day there will be no more pain, suffering or sorrow for those who are found in Him. This is the promise we have for all eternity!

Jesus’ birth, His life and death on the cross, His resurrection made a way for salvation for the souls of mankind. He came to this earth as a baby to make a way for us to enter into eternity, no longer orphans, but children of God. He took the punishment for every sin upon Himself. He chose to purchase our redemption forever!

Whatever we may pass through in this life, if we have put our trust in Him, our soul’s future is secure. In this life until then, He is our peace, He is our hope, He is our light.

Light of the World
photo taken by Kobe Spurlock
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2


Our pastor delivered a beautiful Thanksgiving message this past Sunday that has stayed with me all week. There were a couple specific parts that went to my heart; I’ll share one.

Though I understand I cannot earn God’s favor, I still try to. I don’t realize I’m doing it, but more often than not, there is a sense of duty that overrides a precious relationship with Him. Our pastor reminded us that we should come to Him out of love for Him and not from a place of duty.

All week I have remembered gratitude and worship for my God, not out of responsibility, but from my heart. God has so tenderly met with me this week.

If I had to say what I am most thankful for this year (and always), it would undoubtedly be the unfailing love and mercy He has for us.

Seek the LORD while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the LORD, 
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God, 
For He will abundantly pardon.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, 
Nor are your ways My ways,"
says the LORD.
"For as the heavens are higher 
than the earth,
So are My ways higher than
your ways,
And My thoughts than your
Isaiah 55:6-9
In the Silence

In The Silence

There are so many gut-wrenching questions to which I do not know the answers.

How do I help someone who is battling darkness?

What is the catalyst for a heart or perspective or belief to change?

How do people come to terms with past failures or ever make up for the consequences left in their wake?

Why don’t prayers for hearts to be healed and lives to be restored yield visible results, often times, after years of prayer?

Should we pray for specific requests if God has a different ending in mind than we do?

Who gets to have things work out as they had hoped, and who has to endure way more than what seems to be their share of suffering?

Where was God when…?

Why does God allow…?

Why won’t God…?


In the Silence

Sometimes all we hear is silence.

I know there are some automatic answers some of us might begin to attach to those questions, answers that might be accurate in a concise set of circumstances. Answers that have seemed to be or have been true and accurate in the past. But I wonder if it is profitable to attempt to answer all the questions.

Some who have lived through enough pain and uncertainty, darkness and difficulty, could speak to those questions and others would listen. I would guess, though, that even many of the wisest souls would admit that they’re careful not to apply a trite reply as a balm to a battered heart.

In the Silence

Some shake their fists at God in their pain. Some rebel and accuse Him of being a liar, but Satan is the father of lies. He preys on pain, swift with the implication: Could God really be a loving God with so much evil allowed in the world?

Only God can meet one at the point of their unbelief or their crisis of faith. Our prayers for God to be the answer to unanswerable questions, by illuminating His love and touching hearts, are the best way forward through uncertainty. God sees the wounds of every soul, and He alone knows how to reach them.

In the Silence

God is TRUTH and LIGHT and LOVE. He is HOLY and RIGHTEOUS and JUST. Those are answers I know even when I can’t understand, even when He is silent. His heart is for us, not against us.

In the Silence

May we remember that this life is a vapor compared to eternity. God sees all of time and knows all the answers that we cannot fathom.

Faith matters to God. He is the one who gives it to us.

Will we keep coming to Him without receiving the answers we seek? If we do, that is faith.

Will we come to realize that we will never cease to be desperate for Him? That is faith.

Will we realize that He alone is our hope? That is faith.

Pain can cause bitterness, or pain can push us closer to God.

I have struggled with my faith, wondering why I can’t hear God or feel His presence. In the silence, I realize the truth that He is God. He is the Creator, and I am His creation. I have a choice before me: trust Him in faith or trust in my own understanding. My faith feels wobbly to me, just about always. But I run to Him again and again because I have nothing without Him. I believe that He is the true God who is Master and Creator, and I will stumble my way back to him each time I question or fall.

In the Silence

When it’s silent and we can’t understand where God is, He is still at work to draw our hearts to His if we let Him.

In the Silence

Jesus laid down His life for mankind out of God’s unfathomable love for us. He suffered and died and did nothing to deserve it, but He saw the whole picture with eternity in mind. His pain would bring us redemption and eternal life. He wouldn’t stay in the grave forever, and neither will those who put their trust and hope and faith in Him. There’s a time that’s coming with no more pain. He made a way for us.

In the Silence

May God love through us those who are lost and hurting. Oh, may we listen to their pain and take it before God, asking Him to rescue and heal, revealing His love and salvation that can restore the most broken and hardened hearts.

May our hearts break for the souls that are blind to the truth of who God is, accusing Him of everything He is not. Those who rail at Him and refuse Him have a spiritual battle raging for their souls. We pray for their eyes to be opened, for the faith to believe, for our own faith to be strengthened so we can stand as His people in these dark times. God alone can save, the great DELIVERER.

God is LIGHT and in Him there is no darkness.

Stand Fast

Oh, God, be our Light in the darkness. There is hope in You. You are always the answer.


Things change.

This is my favorite season, it always has been. Fall gives me a feeling that I have permission to nest and create, to leave some of those to-dos on my list until Spring. Oh, and there are quite a few of those to-dos for us these days. Since I last posted, we have moved into an older home in a charming neighborhood, after living in the same neighborhood for 20 years! Our new residence is around 30 minutes (longer with heavy traffic) away from our former home. That doesn’t sound like a lot of distance, but everything is different here. My friend said it was like we moved to a whole new city, but still have all our friends and family nearby.

morning walk downtown Reno
morning walk along the river

The initial thoughts on us moving both scared and excited me. My husband and I have looked into moving to more land for the last two years. It didn’t work out, and we just decided to stay put as we apparently could not compete in this crazy housing market. We loved our place and it was a perfectly acceptable option to toss out the idea of a move.

For years now, my husband and I have loved to spend time downtown by the river – walking under the shade of the many mature trees, getting coffee, admiring the old houses and the architecture of the buildings, eating at locally-owned restaurants. It was our go-to when driving up to the mountains wasn’t an option, and we would talk about what it would be like to live downtown.

Truckee River

We couldn’t really imagine such a thing, though it seemed charming and nostalgic (maybe we could get a condo downtown for the weekends if we ever got rich – haha!). We have always firmly believed that the more land we had, the better. We aren’t used to having close neighbors, and didn’t necessarily want that. But as we would sit in the coffee shops by the window and look out at all the passers-by walking with their families and dogs in their neighborhood, we started to think that it would be pretty great. Maybe we even started to dream about it a little.

Here we are, two and a half months after our move to that very same neighborhood, more pleased with our decision than we ever thought we would be. For a while, it seemed like we weren’t going to get the house. I have to tell you that during that time, I actually hoped it would fall through, even prayed that it would. I got too scared of all the change and all that it would mean for our day-to-day lives and for the foreseeable future. I just couldn’t see it working for us. Never had we envisioned ourselves moving to a fixer-upper (albeit a pretty one) with tiny yards. We had always talked about just the opposite – Our next house has to need NO work and it must have a lot of land. – notLet’s move to a house where nearly everything is original and will all eventually need repair or replacing – and one where we can live super close to our neighbors.

One day, after it was clear we would indeed get the house, (unless God heard my prayers for a big intervention that would cancel everything and allow us to stay in the same comfy place we had been for so long) I had a pretty big panic attack about the whole thing. I kept it mostly to myself, not wanting to upset my husband who was happy and certain about it all. But I had absolutely NO peace – not an ounce of it. I prayed and prayed for it to fall through, and if it didn’t, I needed to have peace about it.

There are some things that only a dad can do for us. I don’t exactly know why, but there is something so deeply reassuring when a father speaks words of encouragement. It has a unique and stabilizing quality that makes you believe it will all be okay.

I talked to my dad on the phone in the midst of my crisis – fervently resisting the change that now seemed inevitable. What was I thinking?! I had a perfectly lovely, comfortable home. Why on earth were we pulling up the posts and moving to the unknown? Whyyyyy? But all it took were a few kind, calm, wise words from my dad to settle my terrified heart into a safe place that I couldn’t get to on my own. From that moment on, with his support (and my mom’s – always my precious mom’s) things began to turn around. I found little bits of courage to go forward with this giant change.

Last Saturday my husband and I walked from our front door to get coffee, then to see a movie, then to dinner, then back home all in one afternoon. It was freezing and rainy and windy and wonderful.

sculpture downtown Reno
One of the many cool Mid-Century buildings downtown

One of my dearest friends came with me to the house one day while it was still in escrow. We had permission to begin tackling the yard work before we got the keys, and she faithfully worked alongside me with her gloves and tree clippers in the summer sun. We were only able to peek through the windows, but she told me that she believed that we would be far more blessed here than we ever thought we would, that God would show us all sorts of little gifts we couldn’t even see yet, gifts specific to us and for us from His heart to ours.

We already have stories to tell.

What if I hadn’t had the strength of my dad to give me the courage to proceed through all the new things? I am thankful for his steadying hand. I am also comforted to know that my Father in heaven will always be my strength in every crisis, every change. He answered my plea, just not as I had asked. He used my dad to be His voice of calm and peace in my heart, to reflect His own heart.

So here we go into this new way, this new place with new people. We keep saying that we can’t believe we live where we live and how much we love it. It is all so new still. I can’t believe we made such a huge change! Though I miss my old house, I don’t miss it as terribly as I thought I would. The first week here was rough. I just wanted to go home. So strange to realize how much of a role familiarity plays into my sense of security. It’s still not home in the way that my other home was, but time and making new memories will help that. But maybe it’s not supposed to be exactly the same. Maybe our world will be a little bit bigger and my sense of security less dependent on the familiar.

The Branches

The Branches

We are all branches of a family tree. We’ve all heard the phrase ‘the black sheep of the family’. We’ve heard it used jokingly, lightheartedly, but when it is referred to seriously it is heartbreaking. It is saddest when it is said as a self-reference by one who believes that he or she is too different or even worse, unredeemable. Maybe they think it’s what everyone else thinks of them – whether or not their assumption is accurate.

What a sad thing to think that someone would see themself that way. Today, as I was driving home, someone on the radio said something (I actually don’t even remember what it was) that made me think this thought: Everyone gets a branch on the family tree. The genealogy websites will know your name, and it will go down in history just because you existed.

The Branches

I want to speak to that one who carries the burden of rejection or self-condemnation. There is good news. The One True God has loved you with an everlasting love.

The Branches

EVERY SINGLE LIFE will count for something. Every name will occupy a space on its family tree – whether it’s written in ink or not. That’s to say that you are counted. We don’t choose the family or the legacy we are born or adopted into – healthy and in tact. – or – wildly dysfunctional. It still remains that we are COUNTED.

The Branches

Think of the kids who are given the homework assignment to research and record their family trees. Think of the possibility of someone further on down the line, generations from now, writing your name on that branch as they record those who came before them. Your name belongs on that line because you exist(ed). Your life has value because of the One (God) who gave it to you.

The Branches

I wonder if we could ever grasp fully that God has created us on purpose – every single one of us – to belong to His family. To know this, to let it sink deeper than we’ve let it, may make all the difference.

The Branches

If God created us, how He must have thought about us!

He has not forgotten about the life He gave you to live. He was there when you drew your first breath.

You are here for a reason.

The Branches

You were made to love God – to choose life, to find satisfaction for your soul in Him alone. Every one of us is in need of God’s intervention on our behalf. He has made a way for us to be part of His family. There, He will keep us.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:5

No one in all of history has ever earned his or her right to draw breath. It is a God-given right.

There’s no catching up required to become a recipient of God’s love. It cannot be earned – it is free.

Life is a gift from God. It is sacred. God thought about you, formed you, and breathed life into your lungs. He is the source of our value, our hope. He does not play favorites. We ALL need Him.

If you have isolated yourself because of the belief that you are unworthy to belong, I invite you to come to Jesus and ask Him save you. He will give you an incorruptible inheritance – eternal life.

All honor to God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; for it is His boundless mercy that has given us the privilege of being born again so that we are now members of God's own family. Now we live in the hope of eternal life because Christ rose again from the dead. And God has reserved for His children the priceless gift of eternal life; it is kept in Heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And God, in His mighty power, will make sure that you get there safely to receive it because you are trusting Him. It will be yours in that coming last day for all to see. 1 Peter 1:3-5 (Living Bible)
The Branches

Ask Him to help you turn from your sins and from living life your own way, and confess that you need the salvation of the Cross where Jesus paid with His life to take sin’s penalty for you and for me.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
The Branches

Jesus is alive and calls us to come and follow Him.

And He [Jesus] said to all, "If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me." Luke 9:23

The most famous Bible verse that speaks to the Gospel (good news) begins with a statement of God’s love.

The Branches
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
The Branches

No Rush

No Rush

Have you ever met someone who is never in a hurry? Can you think of someone who always seems to be in a hurry? I tend to lean toward the latter. As much as I have longed to be just someone who can say, “I’ll get to it when I get to it. It will wait,” I am not that person (yet). It’s as if I think that if I keep at it I’ll reach that magical point when all the duties and chores will just be done, as in finished – never to need an update or revisit. And that if I don’t get right to it in the mean time, it will pile up and bury me alive. Oh, drama! hahaha!

To be fair to those like-minded individuals, life sometimes just demands an extended period of busyness. But maybe we could still try to take a minute in the short windows between the next thing to do or place to be. I’m mostly talking about a mindset.

-Lake Tahoe-

Those who are never in a rush seem to possess a secret way to navigate life’s demands without panic over the when, where, how it will all get done. I haven’t figured it out yet, but I have learned to take the initiative to lean into the current more freely than I used to. One of our family members recently said how she loved the wave pool at the water park – the one with so many stories of people having a near-drowning experience in it. It’s tough to know what the waves will do once you’re at their mercy, so many panic and fight them. Another family member said that the LAZY river was his favorite. I laughed at him choosing that over all the other exhilarating experiences the park has to offer. He’s got the idea!

This is the day the Lord has made
-Lake Tahoe- near sunset

It’s wonderful how different we all are. We can watch and learn from each other. Different stages of our lives hold different priorities. Different people enjoy different things. One of the gifts that can give us time and inspiration to consider those values and reflect on how to live them and where we are in it all is the beauty of God’s creation.

No Rush
-Lake Tahoe- very windy day

It is not always possible for a get-away or for a retreat into the mountains to hike or to soak in the sun on a beach, but given the opportunity for even an hour or two outside for refreshment, I will take it. That’s when I find it easiest to forget about my to-do lists and my worries.

No Rush
No Rush
No Rush
-Lake Tahoe – looking as vast as the sea

This last weekend we were able to spend a few days at Lake Tahoe. Last year we stayed at the same time of year, before the official start to summer, and it is just the best way to experience the lake! There is NO RUSH. There are no crowds blocking the way or standing in lines. It’s quiet and peaceful. Starting just next week, that will all change for the next few months. People come from all over the world to visit this magnificent lake, and they are willing to make their way through the sea of tourists. It’s that great a place!

No Rush
-near Nevada Beach on Rabe Meadows Trail-

We stayed at Zephyr Point in an old cozy cabin that had a wood burning fireplace. That was our favorite thing – the crackle of the wood and the movement of light that performed so beautifully to create a sit-and-stay atmosphere. Just what we dreamed for our weekend.

No Rush
-cabins at Zephyr Point-

The Zephyr Point Conference Center where we stayed is a Christian organization. These pillars have the names of the four gospels engraved on them: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John

No Rush

A couple cabins down from ours was the first cabin built on the grounds – 1920s (I believe the barista said) and is now a coffee spot. Cozy, nostalgic, and great coffee!

I will take as many opportunities as I get to enjoy the warm weather and the sunrises, sunsets that happen every single day. Some of my favorite pictures throughout the years are those I took all alone on an early morning walk before that day’s hustle and bustle demanded my attention. I’ll try to remember and notice and drop the “hurry” more often.

No Rush
How Precious

How Precious

Throughout our lives, people come and go. We change jobs, move to different neighborhoods or cities, find new interests; the reasons are many. Rarely is there one who is with us from the very beginning of our lives to the very end. Family members are the most likely to fulfill this, however, there isn’t a single person, not even a twin, who can know EVERYTHING about us, the depths of our hearts and the entirety of our understanding.

How Precious
– local walking trail –

There’s nothing that we need to explain to God in order for Him to comprehend something about us. He already knows and understands, fully, as no one else ever can.

How Precious
– Fallen Leaf Lake, CA –

Psalm 139:13-16 tells us that God was the One who was there from the very beginning of our lives; He formed us in our mother’s womb and fashioned our days. He is the Creator of life – yours, mine – life to our bodies and eternity to our souls.

God knows us completely. He knows our thoughts, our past, present, future. He knows where we are at all times. He knows what we will say before we say it.

O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. Psalm 139:1-4
How Precious
– garden –

Some may find God’s thorough knowledge of us disconcerting, frightening as we are all imperfect, flawed, sinful human beings. But God knew everything we would do, say, think throughout our lives even before Jesus, who willingly gave His life for ours, died on the cross to atone for the sins we never could.

In fact, God doesn’t use this all-knowing to harm us or to condemn us. John 3:17 says that He did not come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved! He doesn’t remove His love for us when we rebel or fall short. His very knowledge of our weakness and sin is why Jesus took our place on the cross, to justify us, to redeem our souls.

How Precious
– Carson River, near Genoa, NV –

This type of love from a perfect God is difficult to fathom, but it is the truth of His Word, His character.

It means that He can love us, provide for us, care for our souls far better than we can understand.

In the 139th chapter of Psalms it tells us that there is nowhere we can flee from God’s presence, that the darkness cannot even hide from Him. Verse six reveals that David, the psalmist, finds this a wonderful thing.

How Precious
– near Genoa, NV –

Imagine that: The God of the universe – the One who spoke light into existence – never loses sight of us. His love for us reaches farther than our minds can comprehend. It is His desire that we love Him in return. He has given us the free will to either choose Him or reject Him.

How Precious

Some will walk away, reject the God who can love us like no one else ever could. Oh, that they would see and understand the gift they are offered and run straight to Him, turn from all the things that could never compare.

If someone refuses God and rejects His gift of salvation, the thought that he or she cannot hide from or outrun God would be unsettling, maybe even terrifying. But if we yield to Him and believe His word, that He is love who came to save us and not to condemn us, the same realization of His all-knowing can be our greatest comfort and hope. When we repent of our sins and follow Jesus, we are admitting our desperate need for Him to be the Keeper of our souls in a way we never can.

How Precious
– Burney, CA –

It is never too late to ask God for forgiveness – to accept His gift of reconciliation through Jesus. He has loved us first. Would we love Him in return?

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with You. Psalm 139:17,18
How Precious


It has been way too long since I’ve posted. I have started on and added to one in particular several times, but it is weighty, and I have yet to finish it. Whenever I have an unfinished project, I tend to freeze up until I have completed the task. But sometimes, the task isn’t meant to be completed quite then, especially if it prevents other good ideas from their development.

homemade banana crumble muffins underneath a gorgeous still painted by my mother

My blog has been on my mind throughout these last five or so months, and I have missed publishing posts.

-beach at Camp Richardson, Lake Tahoe

I’ve had many ideas – too many (written in the notes section of my phone) – piling up into a menacing stack too daunting to tackle. So I came up with a plan to prevent this unnecessary procrastination in the future. I believe the best way to keep the blog going strong is to write more often with less pressure.

spring flowers

When I first started this project I was reluctant to write too often for fear of having nothing of any value to say in between the more serious posts. That worked to motivate me to establish quality content in the beginning, but I need a different approach moving forward.

The plan is for my topics to be as light-hearted (not necessarily inspirational or impactful) as they may be in between the more “meaty” posts. I want to have more fun with it and hopefully engage in a more community feel. My idea was to build an authentic conversation with others who would engage with or appreciate the type of content I put into the blog and have others share as they feel compelled. I do hope to grow in interaction and visitors/followers.

I want to keep the categories I have already created, and maybe create a few more.

garden chive blossoms

It’s been months since I’ve pursued photography as I have in the past. I can’t wait to get out there and get some more great shots for the blog!


There have been a couple of funny stories (indeed, at my expense) that I could have shared. I may begin to incorporate some of those. 😊

I have discovered that dog posts are by far the most popular. It would be my pleasure to write more about my dogs, and it seems that people like those sorts of posts (though I’ve only written a few so far).

our sweet Scooby

From the beginning, I wanted to encourage and point others to Jesus. I hope to shine His light to others who may be walking in darkness and need hope. For me, this is the most important part of my writing.

Lake Tahoe

This June will be the fourth anniversary of the start of this blog. Thank you for being a part of it. Be on the lookout for more frequent posts!

A Little Walk, A Lot of Beauty

A Little Walk, A Lot Of Beauty

So much uncertainty surrounding us these days. More than I can remember in my lifetime (collectively, as mankind). It does my heart and mind infinitely good to get out and be surrounded by CREATION, which reminds me with clarity of the One True God.

View from the trail that runs along the bottom of the mountains at Hidden Valley Regional Park

Scooby and I arrived at the Hidden Valley Regional Park at around 7:20 a.m. The sign says that the park doesn’t open until 8:00 a.m., but the gate and the bathrooms were already open. Thank goodness (coffee drinker)!

Located in South Reno, the chances of seeing wild horses dotting the landscape, and even up close, are pretty good.

I took these two photos of the horses at a previous visit to the park.

There is a dog park that is always full of people and their beloved companions. It really doesn’t matter what time of the day, there are always dogs running around playing in that portion of the park.

My sweet puppy, Scooby, however, does not handle encountering other dogs without extreme excitement. He expresses himself in such a way that people have looked at us with judgment, concern, fear, and pity as they pass by us. Scooby only wants to play, but he can’t contain his hysteria. His yelps sound like there are four or five coyotes carrying on at once. I don’t know how he does it – some sort of vocal trick! He jumps and yanks on the leash and WILL NOT settle down. We’ve tried everything, and it all works a little, at first. Inevitably, he gets too crazy to calm down anyway. He is getting better, but he has a looooong way to go.

Here, he can hear or smell the horses we had seen previously, but disappeared out of sight. I saw them before he did (thankfully) and we promptly turned to a different direction!
He always turns around to check on me when we are out walking.

So thankfully, at this park, there are also trails along and in the surrounding mountains where you can see for miles and miles, literally. When the day is clear you can see nearly the entire valley and the surrounding mountains in the distance. The views are stunning and as a safety net for dog hysteria, we can keep an eye on any potential dog traffic!

A couple times the fog engulfed us and the trail nearly disappeared. You can spot a few horses on the upper left side of the photo.
You can see the Grand Sierra Resort peeking out through the fog where you normally can see all of downtown Reno.

Scooby does best when we are somewhere way out with no other dogs or people and we can let him off his leash. He stays near us and comes back at our calls. I wasn’t going to dare to do that here, though we were just about alone, because I don’t know what he’d do if he encountered the wild horses. I could end up on the news!

The thing to see this morning was the uncharacteristic fog that blanketed our valley. When I set out to head to Hidden Valley with my dog for a morning walk, I didn’t know what a bonus I would get. I had packed my camera because it’s always beautiful up there, but I was extra glad that I did.