30 DOT: Day 11

November 11, 2015


Snack. Scent. Time of Day. These are the days I’ve missed so far; I trust you would forgive me if I told you why I’ve missed them, but instead, I’d like to add them to this prompt. 

You know me. I fancy myself this mysterious, hidden person, but the truth is that I’m quite transparent. I think. At least, to anyone who has read anything I’ve ever written, it should be painfully obvious that I love tradition. I don’t love it exclusively; I love it reverently. And tonight, I’m going to share one of my favorite traditions with you.

On the weekends, I write letters. I sit at the kitchen table with my pen, my scrap paper from journal projects, my doo-dads and envelopes, and I write letters. I brew a pot of freshly ground coffee (my favorite snack), light a vanilla candle (my favorite scent), turn on Christmas music (my favorite of any favorite thing I could name), and I watch the birds scurry around the back yard as the world awakens (my favorite time of day). And there, in that place, I pen a million words that have mostly never seen a postage stamp.

There’s something of a ritual to it. Maybe it’s the familiarity of these things that whispers to my soul, “you are safe here; write what’s on your heart.” Or maybe it’s the simple reminder that for  all of my struggling to answer the question of who I am, I find that I already know the answer. 

We are not such complicated beings as we like to think.

I do apologize, though. To all of my friends and family who are waiting on a letter that you think I’ve forgotten, I probably have started three or four, and they’ve found their way to a folder titled “letter fragments” on my desk. I have no idea why I’m keeping them. 

But I think it’s exactly what I was trying to explain to a friend tonight. Writing, for me, is not simply expressing a thought or opinion. A gifted writer could, after all, argue the flatness of the earth with passion and conviction, having never believed it himself. No, it is more an exercise in fine-tuning a thought or emotion. It’s words and structure and rhythm; it is flow and pause, give and take, yes and no, is and is not. Like that elusive story of the artist who carves the elephant out of marvel without any plan: You chip away everything that is not an elephant. That’s what those sacred moments allow me–a chance to become a marble elephant. And the realization that I already am.

Father God, loving Savior, sweet Spirit; I thank You with all of my being for these gifts You give me–the coffee, the candles, the Christmas music, the birds, the dawn, the ink, the pen, and so many willing recipients. Thank You for the ability to be and to become. I am so grateful. You are so kind. 

30 DOT: Day 9

November 9, 2015


Of all the places I’ve visited on the Internet, one of my favorites is Compassion International. Are you surprised? You shouldn’t be.

As a sponsor, the website is far more to me than countless photos of children waiting to be chosen, waiting for the hope that comes from knowing someone loves you. As a sponsor, Compassion provides me with a remarkable resource in their website. I can pay my monthly commitment or send a monetary gift to my boys (or to the other endeavors Compassion has undertaken); I can upload photos and use the templates to write letters to my boys; I can read the latest updates about the boys’ situations; I can read about upcoming opportunities to travel and work with Compassion.

As an organization, none is run better than Compassion. They have made a priority of stewardship, spiritual and financial, and this carries over into every aspect of the organization, including the website.

Oh…and the best part? I can log in and, no matter where I am or how far from my house and photos I am, I can see the most recent picture of my boys. 

Father, thank You for the amazing resource You’ve provided through Your servants at Compassion International. For rose who have made the website their priority, I pray a special prayer of thanksgiving. You have raised up among them a culture of excellence and world-changing. Thank You for the enormous blessing of being a part of that in some small way. Keep them safe and brimming with ideas, and speak to their hearts how very appreciated they are.

P.S. If you have not visited http://www.compassion.com I would urge you to do so now. And I triple-dog dare you to look at the children waiting for sponsors in Burkina Faso. 

30 DOT: Day 8

November 8, 2015


It’s not a restaurant, per se. But I am thankful.

It’s a bakery and cafe. With chalkboard menus and local art adorning the walls and day-old breads for sale down the hall, it is a never-ending entourage of locals, of strangers, of students, and of stories. There is a half-dozen or so men (who remind me a lot of my uncles, or of Wick and Dash) who are there every morning–oh, every morning, but on Tuesdays they go to the Bagel shop to “shake things up.” And there, at the long table, they drink cup after cup until their stories run dry. Last I heard, they were solving international problems.

They caught me chuckling at their antics one morning, and since then, I’ve been the Keeper of Stories. I think they honestly believe that my journal is filled with their crazy tales of their days in the Corps, the neighbor’s dog who barks before sunup, the nun who used to discipline them as kids, and Sandy’s brother’s wife’s mother’s sister’s kid who forgot to mow the lawn. If only they knew that my Saturday morning jotts had more to do with my own brokenness and longing for God! But I’m glad they don’t. I’m thankful that they think I am preserving their stories.

And suddenly, I’m a bit ashamed of myself that I’m not.

I suppose it is never too late!

Either way, I’m so thankful for these men–who are growing more like friends each weekend, and the life lessons I learn from listening to them (and the lessons I learn from not taking them too seriously!).

Father, thank You for Dan, for Don, for Walt…for the whole gang. I’m so blessed to have stumbled randomly into their world (or maybe not so randomly…did You plan that?). Bless them today, and each day, drawing them to You and bringing about good in their lives.

30 DOT: Day 6

November 6, 2015

Pair of Shoes.

It’s ironic, isn’t it? You’re reading my words on a blog titled “barefooted,” and I’m supposed to write tonight about a pair of shoes for which I am grateful.

How about flip-flops.

I’m grateful tonight for a pair of ridiculous neon-green flip-flops. One of my favorite persons in the whole existence of mankind wears them, and they protect his feet from the dirt and danger of his third-world village in Burkina. I’m so thankful that he is healthy and safe and growing stronger in his faith every day. I’m thankful for his family, his mom and dad, his sisters. I’m thankful for Compassion International and the work they are doing to help him become the man God created him to be. I’m blessed to know him, to share in my journey with him, to pray for him, and to have his blessings and prayers in return.

I’m thankful for my Joseph. I’m thankful that he has a pair of shoes.

Father, I thank You for the incredible blessing You’ve given to me in Joseph. His tender heart and compassion for me in my mid-American struggles are overwhelming at times. Your love is so apparent in him and through him. Keep him safe, I pray. Protect his feet, and guide his footsteps to accomplish all You have called him to.

30 DOT: Day 5

November 5, 2015


I’m not sure what bid this memory, but earlier this week I recalled an old Tree. It was at a Bible Camp whose name I cannot pull out of my brain at the moment–oh wait, Lakeshore. Lakeshore Christian Bible Camp, I believe. So many memories of that place, those moments with Christ, and the growing of my friendship with Laureli. As a young girl, I was terrified of many things; but that first summer we went to camp together, something became real to me. There, beneath that enormous Tree (it must have been an Oak, but I honestly was too young and unfamiliar with trees to tell–all I knew was that it had this nook in the trunk where my back nestled in just right), I spent my “quiet time.”

Laureli and I were part of a group that week. I don’t remember what it was called or what the purpose of it was, except that it was something of an extra Bible study group. We had a workbook with daily scripture and questions, and then we’d meet later in the day together. I remember that it ended with an amazing proclamation we were able to sign that began with the life-changing words: “I am a part of the fellowship of the unashamed.” Woah!

But it was the first day of our studies that found me nestled into that Tree. I’d been searching for some place to sit alone and tackle the “homework” I had to complete: Write your testimony. That topic belongs somewhere else on my blog entirely; what is pertinent at the moment is that the Tree afforded me the security of something unshifting to recognize what it was that God had saved me from: The ever-shifting world, my ever-shifting father, my billowing fears that ever-shifted me.

I continued to sit at the Tree each morning for my quiet time; and throughout the day; and the following year when we returned. I haven’t thought of the Tree in years, and somehow it just came to mind this week. Perhaps it’s been the ever-shifting seas of this year that have reminded me what it is to need something (or someone) of whom we can truly say, “Thou changest not.”

I wrote about the Tree one other time in my life, after we’d relocated from Marquette to Hancock. I was lost in the tumult of a new school, a new church, new friends, and a desperate longing for home. It was a journal entry in high school (was it Mrs. G’s class?). Somehow, I can still see the journal–no more than a funny-looking, wide-ruled notebook for my English class. It was red and yellow on the front, but inside, it seemed to come alive with stories and thoughts of my life experiences thus far. I don’t know why I remember the notebook. I’m sure it’s still packed away in the deep places of my world (aka: the Basement). But after all these years, it’s worth mentioning again: The Tree.

Thank You, Father, for a Tree at a summer Bible Camp with a trunk that held my body perfectly all those years ago as I sought You. Thank You for always providing a place where I can long for, seek, and find You. It was a Tree. It could have been a rock; it could have been a park bench; it could have been a mud puddle, to be honest: What mattered was that You were there with me. And that is the best place of all.

30 DOT: Day 3

November 3, 2015

Cozy Place.

A few posts back, as I shared about Isolation, I mentioned a quiet, empty place where I could be alone and make music. For safety reasons (and because it’s not my story to tell), I cannot divulge much more. It is, however my Cozy Place at this point in my life.

The solitude there is amazing. The safety of being able to sing my heart out has been such good therapy for me. Songwriting, to me, is the same as writing with pen and paper, or keyboard: I need the space to try things, to cross things out, to search until I find the right word or phrase or rhythm. Being able to freely make that music, knowing that I have room to edit without someone “red penning” me, is an enormous blessing.

It also allows me to really listen to my guitar. In case you didn’t know, a guitar has a voice of his own. It’s a blessing to hear him. It’s a blessing to have the gifting and receiving of music with an instrument.

But maybe it’s not so much the space…

Maybe it’s the experience. Maybe it’s the truth and the beauty of music when it is freed from the constraints of things like our day jobs and our griefs and our responsibilities. Maybe it’s the Belonging–that sense that we really are created for more (for music, perhaps?). Maybe it is, after all, about Christ. Maybe it’s about silencing the noise around us and joining in the amazing song that all of creation sings back to its Creator. It reminds me of a Rich Mullins lyric:

Be praised for all Your tenderness by these works of Your hands–suns that rise and rains that fall to bless and bring to life Your land. Look down upon this winter wheat and be glad that You have made blue for the sky and the Color Green that fills these fields with praise.

Father God, I praise You for the gift of music which you are constantly singing into my life.  I thank You for the space and the opportunity to give music back to You. Sing Your song over me, and fill my lungs with songs to delight in You.

30DOT: Day 2

November 2, 2015


I actually wasn’t going to write about Sanka, but I just can’t stop thinking about him lately.

Sanka came into our family when I was in high school. He was a pup full of energy and emotion. As my siblings moved away, Sanka sort of became mine by default–though anytime Joel or Jesse was home to visit, I was reminded that dogs love their little boys (and vise versa). I only wish I had a picture of Sanka sitting on Jesse’s head!

How does a dog transition from a boy’s dog to a woman’s dog? It’s an interesting phenomenon. In his youth, Sanka was every bit lab in his rambunctious swagger and his thrill-seeking. But as my brothers came around a bit less often, he changed. He mellowed.

Sanka taught me so many lessons over the years–about forgiveness and patience and simple joy. My favorite memory to recall is the time we were traipsing at Little Presque and he found an enormous stick that he would *not* be parted from. He was so proud of that darn stick! He was the King of the Presque!


Losing Sanka was exceptionally difficult for me. I have often thought that he must have known I was going to need him. That year, Sanka had been struggling so much. He wasn’t steady on his feet; he wasn’t able to jump up onto the foot of my bed; he even battled the three steps down from the deck to the yard. But somehow, that night that Rodger died, Sanka made it up onto my bed and collapsed his face against mine with a “pffffffffh” and a whine that only dog owners understand. He knew I was grieving, and he stayed there with me all night long.

So many lessons. So many moments. So many illustration of the joy of God’s love. I’m so, so thankful for the time I had with my pup.

Father, thank You for showing us glimpses of truth through dogs. Thank You for the constancy of their affection, and the reminder that You love us even more than they do. If there’s a place in Heaven for beautiful black labs, give a Heaven doggy treat to my boy, please. And thank You…thank You for allowing me to know the true companion and faithfulness of a dog.