• The actions that define us refugees

    Refugees: The Actions That Define Us

    Some time ago I found myself in the company of twenty-one refugees, and individuals who, in one way or another, are assisting refugees. Being a refugee may be a defining moment in the lives of those who are refugees, but being a refugee does not define them. Like countless thousands before them, this will be a period—we hope a short period—in their lives. Some of them will go on to be Nobel laureates, public servants, physicians, scientists, musicians, artists, religious leaders, and contributors in other fields. Indeed, many of them were these things before…

  • recycle gratitude

    Recycled Gratitude: Thoughts On Recycle Bins and Authenticity

    It was a typical fall morning in my neighborhood as I walked to the curb to retrieve our recycle bin. I paused for a moment, noticing a simple note taped to the top of the bin. “What’s this?” I wondered. Removing the note from the green bin lid, I began to read, Great job! When it comes to recycling, you don’t monkey around and we are impressed! Thanks to residents like you, last year our city recycled more than 32,000 tons of material that would have otherwise been sent to…

  • Judge Not: A Hard Lesson Learned

    “Thou Shalt Not Judge” is a lesson I tend to learn over and over again.   The following experience happened to our family last year and still weighs on my mind: “Here’s my money, Mom,” my daughter said, smiling as she handed me two large bills, “I want to give it all.”“All of it?” I questioned, wondering if she wasn’t being too generous.It was a lot of money to give a homeless person on the street corner, but who was I to say how she could or could not spend…

  • hope for bad moms everywhere

    Hope For Bad Moms Everywhere

    A QUESTION “Do all moms think they are bad moms?” my eight-year-old daughter asked me, her eyes full of innocence.We were sitting around the dinner table; I was telling my family about a talk I had heard at a Women’s Conference earlier that day.The speaker, a woman with beautiful long black hair, shared with us a personal experience from her journal–a dark period in her life when she had felt hopeless, hopeless to overcome her weaknesses and become the person she is meant to be. In agony of soul, she…

  • Seeking common ground airplane

    Seeking Common Ground

    Opportunities for seeking common ground often present themselves in unexpected ways.   Recently, I flipped through the pages of a religious magazine that was hiding in a stack of magazines in our living room and was stunned by what I read. The pages were filled with scripture, inspiring words, and eternal truths. I was so moved that, several days later, I finally asked my husband, “You know that religious magazine in the living room? Where did it come from?” “Oh…that? he replied. “I got it from a guy on the…

  • Words that encourage purple flowers

    Words That Encourage

    “You’re very special!”   Those were the last words I whispered to my daughter as I gave her a squeeze and prepared to send her off to bed. When her body stiffened noticeably and she became quiet, I wondered if perhaps those words had made her feel uncomfortable. Early the next morning, she stood near me and in her soft voice whispered, “Mama? You know last night when you told me I was special?  I liked that. No one has ever told me I am special before.” That was a bittersweet…

  • Enjoy the little things

    Enjoy The Little Things

    Happy.   It’s a word we each hope will describe our life. Fortunately, happiness is within the reach of each one of us if we’ll but take hold of it and refuse to let it go, regardless of our current circumstances. I recall a time many years ago when I was going through a difficult time. Periodically, I’d call my mom to discuss with her my current set of challenges and express how unfairly life was treating me. She would listen patiently and then ask the question she always asked,…

  • Authentic life

    31 Days To An Authentic Life

    Welcome to 31 Days to an Authentic Life!   Authenticity. We crave it. We long for relationships that are authentic–genuine, real, true– but are often unsure how to go about creating them.   How does one actually LIVE an authentic life on a day-to-day basis with the people in their lives? How can one create a close, abiding relationship with God? How can we connect with family members in powerful, lasting ways? How can we be strengthened through friendships? How might we connect with neighbors and strangers in convicting ways?…

  • storm clouds A personal witness

    A Light In The Storm

    My entire life was caught up in a storm.   At least that’s how it felt as I slowly made my way through the front door of the grocery store, grocery list in hand. One challenge after another in recent days had me feeling that the sun may never shine again. What I didn’t know then was that by the time I exited the store, through those same doors, in just 20 short minutes, my perspective on life and light and storms would change dramatically–all thanks to a stranger. I…

  • Introvert

    Thoughts On Courage From A Lifelong Introvert

    I’m an introvert through and through. And when I say introvert, I mean: I’m uncomfortable in large groups. It’s extremely difficult for me to make a phone call. I love to be alone. I love going to movies by myself. I love to eat in restaurants alone, with only a good book, or a pad of paper and pen in hand. I love to spend time in nature–just me and my trusty sketch book.   If people eye me warily because I’m ‘going it solo’, I’m completely unaware; my book…