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.

30DOT: Day 1

November 1, 2015

A Person.

To choose one person to be thankful for is akin to choosing one note on a piano. It exists together. Still, today, the prompt asks me to be thankful for one person, so I will.

Yesterday, as I was wrapping up at my Saturday coffee habit, my brother texted and asked if I could facetime with the kids. I did, and it was wonderful. But as I got in the car to leave, I saw another text from Joel. It read:

James wants to say love you on the phone. And he’s crying cuz he didn’t get to say goodbye.

Now if that doesn’t melt your heart, you might need to check for your pulse.

I initiated another facetime call and spent a moment telling James I loved him and accepting his love for me. It was such a beautiful blessing, such an unexpected moment in my world.

I’m thankful for each of my nieces and nephews, who have loved me each in their own manner, with their own personalities and their own ways of expression. But today I am especially thankful for James. I am so blessed by the tender heart in this young boy. He will grow to be a man with a tender heart, just like his daddy. And that gives me such hope for the future of mankind.

But more immediately, it gives me hope for myself. A child with a pure and generous heart…loves me.

How can a girl not be thankful for that?

Father God, I thank You for the gifts You give to me each day. For my sweet nephew, so full of affection and smiles, I praise You. He is created in Your image, a compassionate and loving heart. Bless him this evening. Protect his spirit from the bitterness of this world, and grow him always in Your mercy and peace. Thank You for loving me so much that You would give me such a beautiful reminder of the simplicity and eager desire we all have for love.


There’s an old lyric from Caedmon’s Call:

I love anonymity and I love being noticed–just the same as anybody else.

Years ago, I told you how I love to be alone; these days I’d be perjuring myself.

I’ve loved these words for years, because I think it’s true for many musicians, many artists. We grow up feeling totally out of place; we long for solitude to make sense of our art; and after years of being the wallflower who observes life all around, we yearn for the intimacy of being in the throes of life’s squall. The process may be different for each of us, and maybe it happens more than once (maybe it’s cyclical?…oh dear Lord, I hope not…) or in different patterns, but there exists somewhere in our creative mind a place that affirms the juxtaposition: I love anonymity; I love being noticed.

Recently, through an amazingly odd turn of events, I found myself with access to an empty house.

I was elated.

The thought of having this space to myself for any given amount of time was an amazing thrill. It is every artist’s dream to have an empty space to fill with the stuff of their practice and creation. And it just so happens, for this songwriter, it is more than empty space; it is wooden floors and high ceilings and wide open spaces kind of empty space (wide open spaces?…there’s a Psalm about this). It is an acoustic heaven.

One night, as the sky settled into starless night, as the neighbors all shut down and drifted to sleep, as the words of a new song meandered about me like a fog that cannot lift, I felt it: Isolation.

Solitude is a blessing, right?

Except that it isn’t. It cannot be…unless it is balanced by the commotion of fellowship. When it lacks balance, it is no longer solitude; it is isolation.

Yes, another fence-post from Sarah. You must accept the two things which seem contradictory, or you forfeit them both. Perhaps you come to a different conclusion, but for me, the only answer is to accept the contradiction. Tozer writes about God’s justice and mercy in this regard. If we were able to remove God’s justice, there would be no need for His mercy. And if we removed His mercy, justice would simply be cruelty. They are balanced inclusively with one another like dueling sides of a mountain.

The moral here is not so much a moral as it is a plea.

From one artist to many others.


…don’t let me isolate myself.

I am sorely tempted as of late. I am hurting and confused and frustrated by many events of the past year. I am heartbroken and grief-stricken and overwhelmed by sorrow. I know it is a season; I know it will pass; I know that nothing stays the same forever (except the Changeless One). But if you think of me, please reach out to me. Even if I don’t respond (which I am prone to do), I promise–I notice. And I appreciate. I save those texts, those voicemails, those emails, those cards. I hold them dear like treasures a child finds at the beach on a beautiful summer day.

They are balm to an weary and wounded soul.

Pax Christi.