• What We Reach for Reveals our Hearts

    In need of a little sunshine, and in an effort to rid our home of sweets after the holidays, I placed a basket of our favorite citrus on the dining room table.  I gave the kids permission to eat them whenever they wanted, and eat them they did.   We ate twenty pounds of clementines in January.   Finished all your spaghetti?  Sure, have an orange. Hungry before bed?  Eat an orange. Even our not-quite-two-year old often climbed onto the table and helped herself by biting right through the peel.  I tossed oranges to hungry kids for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Our Vitamin C consumption is through the roof. It’s amazing what…

  • Marriage Was Never Supposed to Fill the Empty Spaces

    If you had asked me before my wedding if I thought marriage would meet all my emotional needs, I would have shaken my head no and spouted off all the right answers about who had my heart, who met my needs, and where to run when I was sad.  Jesus is my all.  I know I would have said this.     Then life happened.  When things got hard, I wanted my husband.  When I felt confused, I looked to him to make sense of things.  I could see his face, hear his voice, and feel his comforting arms around me.  He was the perfect replacement. Until he wasn’t around for some…

  • The Only Hope for an Aching Soul

    It’s 2008 and I’m driving the bright blue PT cruiser they gave me at the rental desk.  I’m on the outskirts of Chicago, where I’ve just spent a long weekend celebrating Thanksgiving with Bradley.  I dropped him off at the barracks of the Great Lakes Naval base; they don’t let wives in to their bachelor quarters.  I’ll head back to the hotel for the night and then catch a flight home in the morning. At this point we’ve been living in two different states for almost five months.  I make the flight from Virginia, to Chicago O’Hare, about once every six weeks, but this is his final weekend off before…

  • Top 12 Books from 2019

    Welcome to the 2019 round-up of my favorite books. People occasionally ask me for book recommendations, and I love to give them. So each month I include the books I’ve completed in my monthly newsletter. If you want a more exhaustive list throughout the year, with a little bit of commentary, be sure to sign up to receive those emails. I didn’t set a goal for how many books to read this year, but I did branch out from my typical non-fiction genre, and kept at least one fiction book going at all times. This meant I didn’t read very much fiction, because I always pick those up at night,…

  • A Lesson from the Ant on Spiritual Diligence

    Every week after the church service, a sweet Nigerian lady in our congregation hands six dum-dum lollipops to my children.  I tuck them away for later so no one gets sticky on the walk to Sunday school, but evidenced by the groupings of ants I keep finding around our house, I guess I’ve neglected to pass out the dum-dums. Ants are fascinating creatures.  No wonder King Solomon told us to pay attention to them. “Go to the ant, O sluggard.  Consider her ways and be wise…” (Proverbs 6:6). Without anyone telling them what to do, ants work hard to gather food.  Somehow they can smell sugar through walls, carpet, diaper…

  • When Comparison Derails You From Doing Your Own Good Work (a Message for Writers who Use Instagram)

    I recently received a question about boundaries on Instagram from a fellow writer.  She asked what boundaries I had in place in order to keep myself from comparing with others and falling into despair.  I answered her briefly through a direct message, but it’s a topic I’ve wrestled with for the past eighteen months, one I think is a struggle for others, so I wanted to address it here.   We can’t make hard and fast rules for boundaries in our use of social media.  What one person struggles with on Instagram may not be a struggle for someone else.  So, rather than sharing my specific boundaries, I thought it might…

  • On Being a Mom in the Midst of Grief

    It was a typical Friday at the end of summer.  I wrangled the kids around the table, poured cereal and milk into bowls, wiped the kitchen counter, and sprayed the crack in the floor where the ants were coming in.  I threw the laundry in the dryer, a load I accidentally left in the washing machine overnight. The three year old settled into my lap to hear a story while the older girls played legos at the table.  Mid-morning, I applied sunscreen to six faces and we went to our favorite beach spot. The baby chased seagulls and the big kids asked me to count how long they could hold…

  • What I Learned, Spring 2019

    “The practice of reflection is not one to keep us living in the past or wallowing in mistakes. Instead, it’s a way to pause on purpose and listen to our life so that we can move forward with a little more confidence, a little more clarity, and a lot more intention.” — Emily P. Freeman, Episode 84: A Beginner’s Guide to Self-Reflection, The Next Right Thing Podcast 1. Undeserved gifts are not easily forgotten. We had the privilege of attending an all expenses paid work retreat at one of the finest hotels in our city.  Not only did I feel undeserving and completely spoiled, but I realized how much I…

  • Let them feast on His goodness

    She sits in her highchair grabbing little bits of cheese and shoving blueberries in her mouth faster than she can chew.  She dangles her sippy cup over the edge of the tray, looks at me out of the corner of her eye, and then decides to hand it back instead of dropping it on the floor.  At thirteen months, she’s testing the limits, learning her boundaries, and questioning my authority. It’s the game every child plays as they figure out life consists of rules, and children must obey. I quietly eat my lunch, try to make a phone call, take another sip of water, and run to help her older…