Wednesday, November 29, 2017


Is there a place
where love truly reigns?
a kingdom without war or terror or disease or poverty or famine?
Is there a place where children are happy
where women are safe
where men are courageous?
Is there a place?

Is there a place
where laughter and smiles rule?
where music and poetry flow
art and literature heal
and all people are considered beautiful?
Is there a place?

Is there a place
where nature is pure?
natural is untouched
wild is left wild
colors are original
and the water is always clear and perfect?
Is there a place?

Is there a place
with no need for politics?
or laws or prisons or police
where there are no judges
and no law breakers
and no end to good deeds?
Is there a place?

Is there a place
with liberty and beauty?
ethnic dances and harmonious tribes
languages and cultures mixed
in perfect surrender and respect?
Is there a place?

Is there a place
where there are no worries or cares?
no anxiety or mental illness
no addiction and no crime
no pain and no regrets?
Is there a place?

Is there a place
where we can all agree?
and shout and laugh and dance and toast
that all is well
and as it should be?
Is there a place?

Is there a place
where there will be One God?
and the rest will be ¨under God¨
and there will be no others to mock?
Is there a place?

Is there a place
of rest and joy and perfect health?
of family and community and love
of all things bright
and all things beautiful?
Is there a place?

Is there a place
to finally see Jesus
in His rightful place
without disagreement?
to finally see Jesus
without a veil?
to finally see Jesus
as He truly is?
Is there a place?

There is such a place
it is written.
It is longed for by pilgrims
throughout time
who do not count this world as their home.
and I am waiting
for that place.

¨...they were longing for a better country - a heavenly one.  
Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God.¨ 

Hebrews 11:16

Photo by:

Saturday, November 25, 2017

WHAT IF? (Seeing Our Kids With Heavenly Eyes)

What if I could see into His heart for them and how it absolutely throbs and explodes?
What if I could see into the tomorrows and see the happy ending?
What if I could truly believe that love and truth will win?
What if I could see that their strength is found in the struggle like the butterfly emerging from its cocoon to fly?

What if I could see all the plans and angels and strategies aligned in our favor?
What if I could hear the victory music playing right now?
What if I could see the ways He plans to deepen my raw trust and understanding of Him?
What if I could smell the fragrant perfume that will be produced to alert others: Jesus is Here?

What if I could see how their minds were sharpened through this deep thought process and how their own doubts will make them both accessible and thoughtful with other skeptics?
What if I could see how their hearts were bonded to the work and beauty of the Father through their journey?
What if I could see how their souls were healed in ways nothing but honest wrestling could have brought about?

What if I could taste the sweetness of their lives as they impact this world?
What if I could sense the joy and unity in our family of having weathered this terrible storm and having been healed?
What if I could see Jenna´s face and see by her contented, peaceful expression that she and Jesus knew all along that this was the plan?

What if I could see the myriad of things being built into the kingdom as fruit of our struggle?
What if I could see those who will find help and healing in our story?
What if I could see all the amazing and beautiful things God has planned for our good?
What if I could see...?

And what if I could live as if I could see all that by faith?
What if I could rest in this wrestling?
What if I could just live in His love and creative plans?
What if I could just trust His unseen activity?
What if I could just pray as if I already had the answers?
What if I could live like that?
Can I live like that?
What if...?

Photo by:  Babybluebbw

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


You are the One who slays giants
who buffets my monsters
who refutes lies
and weeps over wounds.

You are the One who breathes strength
into childlike efforts
empowers my best intentions
and looks beyond results to motives.

You are the One who sees the future
and lays out the beats of my heart
You knowingly arrange courses & paths
to prepare and train my soul.

You are the One who stations angels
arranges heaven in mystical appointments
who puts a shield over my heart
and a band of truth around my mind.

You are the One who redeems the hopeless
who dreams up the most unlikely
who operates counterintuitively
and who executes the impossible.

You are the One who has always been with me
the One whose tears are the same salty as mine
You sit patiently and ponder with me
You are not uncomfortable with my silence.

You sing songs & speak secrets in the night
You share counsel as the morning dawns
You walk ahead, behind and beside
Your love is quiet and compelling.

You are the One who has always shown up
to bring provision at critical moments
to creatively pursue my heart
or to just be near.

You are the One who grounds me
You are the One who has taught me love & truth
You steadfastly anchor me
You are the One.

Photo by:  Flora Mutata

Monday, November 20, 2017


So what IS the big deal?  Believe it or not, being thankful reveals quite a lot about you...

To be thankful means you can see outside yourself and acknowledge something or someone good - this reflects SELFLESSNESS.
To be thankful sometimes entails VISION to see beyond now into what can be.
To be thankful attests that you KNOW HOW TO HONOR others´ efforts.
To be thankful often requires a certain HUMILITY for what is received. It is not always easy for us to receive.  Being thankful ACKNOWLEDGES OUR OWN NEED.

To be thankful can call for DISCIPLINE. Being thankful for a meal in spite of a terrible day because you choose to be aware of those who don´t have enough shows a discipline of thankfulness.
To be thankful involves CREATIVITY - you may have to experiment to find ways to show appreciation and thankfulness to others in ways which they find meaningful.
To be thankful for difficult relationships demands MATURITY because you realize that you will learn and grow as a person.
To be thankful for good things can be easy - but it still requires an awareness, a remembering, an acknowledging - and that involves INTENTIONALITY on your part.

To be thankful produces JOY, for others are happy when they are thanked and this in turn makes you feel good.
To be thankful when someone doesn´t expect it can produce amazing CHANGE - in you and in the other person.
To be thankful discloses an AWARENESS THAT THERE IS A WHOLE WORLD OF NEED out there - local and global - and statistically, you are without a doubt better off than 2/3 of them!

To be thankful to God necessitates you BELIEVE IN HIM AS A FATHER of good gifts.
To be thankful to God even when you don´t understand life reveals TRUST and FAITH.
To be thankful to God in the midst of terrible pain demands a DEEPLY GROUNDED BELIEF IN HIS LOVE AND GOODNESS.
To be thankful to God in the face of war and crime and terrorism displays a BELIEF IN HIS RULE over His kingdom, unseen things in constant movement and His ultimate victory.

To be thankful to God exhibits your understanding that there is POWER IN GRATITUDE TO CHANGE YOUR OUTLOOK on life.
To be thankful to God means you understand that there is POWER IN EXPRESSING YOUR GRATITUDE to Him...enough power to CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIORS.
To be thankful to God reveals YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF HIM AS THE GIVER of unspeakable gifts.

To be thankful to God in spite of fear, worry, stress, weakness, mistakes, doubt or you-fill-in-the-blank, manifests a STRENGTH OF FOCUS ON THE ONE who is able and worthy.
To be thankful to God exteriorizes and mobilizes our FAITH.
To be thankful to God showcases our belief that GRATITUDE PAVES THE WAY FOR HEAVENLY BEAUTY AND ACTION.

To be thankful CHANGES US.
To be thankful CHANGES THE WORLD.

So there are some thoughts on why thankfulness IS a big deal this week - and every week.

Thankfulness requires something of us.
Thankfulness reveals a lot about us.
Thankfulness rewards those who practice it.


This ThanksGiving, try ThanksLiving*.

Photo by: kiliki805
*Seen used in a testimony in Our Daily Bread.

Saturday, November 18, 2017


I did not set out to raise ¨great kids.¨
I set out to raise Christ followers
I set out to raise world changers
I set out to raise lovers of people
I set out to raise lovers of God´s word.

I did not set out to raise ¨beautiful kids.¨
I set out to raise kids enchanted with his beauty
I set out to raise kids on a mission to find beauty in the ugly & in brokenness
I set out to raise kids who genuinely reflect the beauty of the transcendent Christ
I set out to raise kids intent on spreading heaven´s beauty on earth.

I did not set out to raise ¨smart kids.¨
I set out to raise kids wiser than their teachers
I set out to raise kids who know how to discern right from wrong
I set out to raise kids who have an honest head-heart connection
I set out to raise kids intelligent in living life well.

I did not set out to raise ¨talented kids.¨
I set out to raise kids who know themselves & where they´re fruitful
I set out to raise kids whose love permeates their skills
I set out to raise kids who unselfishly give of themselves.
I set out to raise kids who deeply credit their Creator for what they have & who they are.

I did not set out to raise average.
I did not set out to raise indifferent.
I did not set out to raise dispassionate.

I set out to raise game changers.
I set out to raise solid character.
I set out to raise soulful spirituality.

I set out to change my family line.
I set out to recalibrate a legacy.
I set out to realign history.

I am so blessed to have great, beautiful, smart, talented kids.
And as they grow & make their faith their own I pray they will always remember:
There is No Stopping Greatness, Beauty, Smartness & Talent
when connected to the Love, Power & Grace of the God of the universe.

The world cannot stop that.
The world needs that.
The world is waiting for that.

I am waiting, too.
So let it be known to the powers that be
what I set out to do.

Photo by:  CaraDon

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


I´ve been trying to lay them down.
But I´ve been ever so hesitant.
Today this insight burst into my consciousness:
¨You don´t trust Me with them.¨
And I realized with sadness, it´s true.

One is already gone.
And I have fought day & night
for the well-being & healing of these other two.
I have implored Him with tears many times
for a protection over their faith during this difficult time.
But their faith is sabotaged right now.
And so my trust is hesitant.

I remind myself:
I cannot walk their journey for them.
It is theirs to walk.

My mind is littered with stories of friends´ kids
who are who-knows-where.
Why should my fate be any different from theirs?
These are very hard times to walk out faith even under the best of circumstances -
and mine have walked through so much loss.
They have every right to ask questions, to come to different conclusions,
to personalize what they will believe.
Their journey is their own.

I am walking a very raw moment in parenting...
loving them as always yet without God in the middle.
For they want me, they want their father -
But they are unsure about God.
It´s ok, I think; it´s part of their process.
But it is so very hard on this believing mother.

I cannot walk their journey for them.
It is theirs to walk.

I feel unsure of how to seek intimacy & engagement with them
without the most important part of me.
I talk about my faith but I try to be sensitive to where they are.
How can I encourage them or help them or counsel them
without Him in between us?
I just don´t know another way...
Please show me the way.

I know in my head this is not my fault
But I can´t help but feel sad that they couldn´t see enough of his wonder in me
to be captivated for a lifetime.
That they didn´t see enough of his goodness in me
to hold onto in their darkest hour.
That they didn´t see enough truth
to be convinced forever.
That they didn´t experience enough agape
to be completely sure & safe with him.
That they didn´t see, hear, perceive, or experience enough convincing faith
to be determinedly following hard after him.
Or that maybe they didn´t see enough comfort & healing in me
to believe that there is enough for them, too.
Oh! how my heart aches!

I keep telling myself:
I cannot walk their journey for them.
It is theirs to walk.
Today this is not helpful.

My own journey today
begins with entrusting them again to God.
For my own faith has been damaged by hard realities, too.
There are places in me which hold doubt.
It looks different than theirs, much different.
But just as no one can walk my spiritual journey or my grief journey for me,
So I cannot walk theirs.

I tell myself again:
I cannot walk their journey for them.
I am also telling myself:
Their journey is not about me, it is about them.

Help me, O God,
to find family unity in the middle of this.
Help us to find love, to find our new selves in all our brokenness,
in all our wanderings & wonderings
to hold on to each other.
For these kids of mine?
They are so worth it.

I cannot walk their journey for them.
It is theirs to walk.
But if they want, I will walk alongside them.

Photo by: ClaraDon

Saturday, November 11, 2017


Grieving people often talk about ¨waves of grief.¨ It seems to be one visual that we all agree is a common experience.  Grief rises and falls, can appear unprompted or triggered, be a slow, rising swell or appear suddenly and knock you off your feet. Sometimes the waves are continuous and other days they are more intermittent.

Then there are the tsunamis.  I haven´t yet heard anyone use this term but I´m pretty sure lots of people will agree with me that they are very real!

When I was young and learning to body surf, my Dad (who was 6´5¨ and gave me tons of confidence) taught me to study the sea and its awesome waves. Together we learned to calculate their height, strength, how close the next one was, how they were breaking and many other things.  There were never two days the same and only learning to depend on your instincts and much practice made me confident in those Atlantic waves. My brothers learned, too, and we were almost fearless - but we learned respect through hard, scary tumbles.  The sea could change suddenly and you had to know and be aware of where you were at all times. I´ve been to many different beaches over the years now and have seen foolish people rescued because they were unprepared or not respectful students of that particular beach.

In a similar way, I have grown accustomed to waves of grief and kind of know how to roll with them.  This does not mean I like them!  But I can often sense them coming and try to prepare space for time to deal with the inevitable. Sometimes the triggers, though, are unexpected and I must react quickly to roll with a wave and not fight it.  Fighting it usually ends up much worse.

This last month, however, I was blindsided by a powerful tsunami. It was the biggest grief wave in a very long time and it thrust me into overwhelming sadness and exhaustion. It was utterly discouraging to be back in darkness; I felt like I had regressed two years in my life.  I struggled to get out of bed and do the simplest of things, my motivation for all I had been planning for the fall was completely gone. Nothing seemed to make me happy; the slightest thing could make me cry. 

None of this made sense to me; I had just finished a wonderful and productive summer in the US (albeit exhausting).  God gave me lots of strength for the many demands of travel and being ¨on¨ with people. I was excited to return to Málaga, resettle, have some rest and then begin the joyous process of what I had planned to be a new season. A season of writing, of reconnecting with people here, of accompanying Jordan in his new stage of two very demanding high school years, supporting Dani from afar as she adjusts to life after college and of learning with Bruce what a season of writing (and doing less with him) would look like for our marriage.

But I was exhausted.  And when your body starts to ¨talk¨ to you, it´s always worthwhile to pay attention.  Whether it is sickness, fatigue or pain crying out for attention, your body will always be honest. Emotions may be trickier to get to the bottom of but the body speaks clearly: I am not well; slow down and listen to me!  So I did. And the emotions that were under the surface bubbled up like Vesuvius.

I can´t share everything here but after spending more time listening to my inner world I realized a number of things had overlapped and caused a deep sense of loss, insecurity in transition, feelings of guilt in my inability to manage my numerous relationships, changes in my community here, recognizing the deeper meaning of Dani´s graduation for us as a family, and an underlying exhaustion after an extremely full summer with very little down time for our family. I carried a lot of anxiety about my kids´ faith walk and where it was going. I began spiraling downward, scared of still being stuck in grief, missing my parents and brothers and in-laws in a terrible way. I wanted to ask my Mom things I wondered about, my Dad´s advice over hot chai, I yearned for Jenna´s input on yet other things and I was sad that there was hardly any immediate family left to visit in the US.  I felt very vulnerable and alone.  Bruce was traveling and normally I am fairly independent but I felt so very fragile without him. I wondered if I ever would be able to ¨write that book¨ people kept asking me about.

Once I could identify some of these things, mourn them and express them to a friend or to God, I felt better. I began writing again and that was therapeutic. Whatever was blocking the floodgates opened and my emotions poured forth. This is a big part of healing in grief: recognizing and expressing emotions. It is hard, hard work. It is humbling work. It is exhausting work. It is necessary work. There is no way forward but through it and no one can do it for you.

I am facing the waves. I am studying each one and making a plan. I am rolling with some and getting knocked over by others. But my Father is beside me, and trust me, He gives me great confidence.

I still have a long road in front of me; this tsunami hit me hard and I need time to restore and rebuild.  Grief is clearly ongoing business and the seasons and waves will be ongoing. I WILL write that book. It´s just a matter of time...

Thursday, November 9, 2017


¨What cannot be spoken must be wept.¨


After a long, harsh winter, the bare, pruned branches of the vine are more than ready for the warmth of spring. As the temperature rises and the roots begin to warm, life-bearing sap begins to course upwards through the plant. As it arrives to places that were cut, it drips out, creating a weeping effect. Although this poignant stage does not last long, it often ¨weeps¨ up to five liters of liquid per plant! This sap cleanses & hydrates the cut and as it slows and coagulates, it creates a healing seal where a new bud will push through into the new season.

This extraordinary and exquisite example in nature is clear:  After a winter season of life, there are things to mourn. This period of grief is necessary and essential for healing. Tears play a critical role in this process and provide forward movement into the new season. Indeed, without this ¨weeping¨, the life cycle of the vine would be impaired.

If you are not keen on crying, consider this:  

¨You have taken account of my wanderings; 
Put my tears in Your bottle. 
Are they not in Your book?¨  
Psalm 56:8

God finds tears so precious He keeps a record of them! I find this astonishing. They are important. They are noticed. They are recorded and saved. They are sacred. (They also must keep a lot of angels busy!)  It has been an unremitting curiosity to me to see what He will do with them someday.

As I have been revisiting John 15, I have been profoundly moved by this example in nature. To those familiar with vineyards listening to Jesus, this ¨weeping¨ of the vine was probably common knowledge. To me, it only came upon deeper study of this life cycle and I began to ask myself: What is it about winter that makes the vine weep?

True winter is harsh. While not every vineyard experiences truly harsh winters depending on their geographical location, many do. There is no doubt that part of what makes the winter difficult is starting it out pruned! Talk about vulnerable, naked and ugly. When we experience spiritual pruning, it can quickly become emotional and physical as well. We suddenly find ourselves with no external fruit or beauty or purpose...we are prisoners of waiting through a long, dark season. Many of us hunker down into survival mode when this happens and give in to the desolation & loneliness. We may feel impoverished, unsheltered, exposed and confused. But if we can use this vulnerable time to focus on internal dealings with God and the opportunity to more deeply connect, depend and persevere (all aspects of abiding), we will reap invisible benefits. Because though not much happens to the human eye to the vine in winter, there is unprecedented growth underneath the surface of the ground. This is the time when roots go deep and we realize: We need winter for depth.

After this formidable and defenseless time, warmth begins to propel life-giving signals calling forth nutrients. They surge upwards in the sap and when they reach the vine´s wounds, the vine ¨weeps.¨ (Perhaps it is partly in relief that winter is over.) When the sap reaches those openings, there is only one place to go: out. Those very cuts are gateways for healing tears and for the ushering in of spring. If we refuse to embrace this part of the transition between winter and spring, we will abort a crucial piece of God´s plan for us. Winter is meant to be mourned. Grief is essential to authentic healing. Tears are instrumental to experiencing the Spirit´s curative flow of restoration. Weeping creates space for future rejoicing and the welcoming of a new season.

Nature´s mysteries are God´s mysteries. Nature´s stories are God´s stories. I am so grateful that He shares them with us and that their example and beauty are for our joy and insight. Do not be afraid of the winter...or of the weeping.

¨I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener.¨
John 15: 1

¨Remain in me as I also remain in you.¨
John 15:4

Friday, November 3, 2017


It´s crazy to even think about this. 
But for whatever reason I have been 
thinking about it. I do not mean to 
¨saint-ify¨ her in her death
but these are my musings...

First of all, if she had lived, it would have been because she received a miracle.
And with that miracle, she would never have been the same.
She would burst with joy to have a new chance at life,
to be with those she loved,
and to continue developing her passions.
She would have lived gratefully and fully.
I know He could have trusted her to hold a miracle with honor & humility.

If she had lived, I think there would have been a certain amount of drama.
People would have wanted to see her, talk to her, see her scars (if they were still there).
Others might have wanted to interview her, she might have travelled, she might have been given amazing opportunities to speak of the power and love of God.
But the best thing?  Seeing those who previously didn´t believe, actually believe.
She would have loved that.
If she had lived.

And after things calmed down & the celebrations slowed,
Real life would have begun again.
But it would look different...

If she had lived, she would have graduated with honors.
She would have begun making plans to return to the Middle East,
perhaps first getting her Masters in Paris where she had dreamed of going.
She would have studied Arabic.
She would have lived a deep spirituality with a vibrant faith.
She would have loved her family even more richly & not taken for granted the extra days given to us.
She would have laughed & prayed & talked with her friends & told them about what God had done.
Then she would have thrown herself into her life work:
restoring justice to hurting Syrian refugees.

If she had lived, our family would be different.
We would not have grieved; we would have celebrated.
We would not have lived in darkness; we would have experienced a great light.
We would not have wavered in our theology,
We would not have lost our energy & joy for a long time,
Our kids would not be questioning God´s goodness or His reality,
They would be reveling in a personal God of love & power.
Oh! if she had lived!

If she had lived, she would have passionately urged her generation to follow God.
She would have urged them to live for something bigger than themselves
and to join causes that mattered around the globe.
She would have led them to seek the One of crazy, passionate love for youth
and have helped strategize on how to make Him relevant.
If she had lived, she would have changed the minds of many dubious about millennials.

If she had lived, she would have loved her siblings furiously and talked with them late into the night about all that was on their minds.
As the eldest, she would have pioneered a path of faith, excellence in life work, passion in relationships, being genuine with your heart and expressing yourself in honest, thoughtful & artful ways.
She would have cheered them on like crazy & given them a kick in the butt if they had needed it.
Oh! If she had lived!

If she had lived, maybe she and I would have written a book together.
If she had lived,  she would have gone on many more adventures & travels with her father.
If she had lived, her friends would be deliriously happy & they would move heaven & earth to find their next rendez-vous point.
If she had lived, our whole neighborhood would be different! All of the kids´ schools would be different! The hospital would be different! Our lives would be different!
Oh! If she had lived!

If she had lived, in time, she would have met the most amazing human being.
He would have loved her like a queen.
She would have loved him with all of her passion & creativity & commitment.
Together they would have been world-changers.
Her siblings would have been jealous, in awe and over-the-moon happy for her.
They would raise beautiful Mother Teresas and Nelson Mandelas.
All would have been as it should be.

But life is not always ¨as it should be.¨

As God would have it, she didn´t live.
And now EVERYTHING is different.

Just not the kind of different written above.

If she had lived,
we would not have received God´s comfort for our mourning.
If she had lived,
we would not have lived the amazing kindnesses of community.
If she had lived,
I would not have believed beauty could come from ashes.
If she had lived,
there would be no perfume of suffering in our lives.
If she had lived,
there would be way fewer honest wrestlings with God about faith.
If she had lived,
we would not have learned about deep places & their significance for our lives.
If she had lived,
I would have nothing to say to others grieving.
If she had lived,
I would not know God who I know Him to be today.

If she had lived...
a million unseen things would not have occurred in the kingdom of God.
If she had lived...
a million untold things for the future would be left untold.
If she had lived...
Oh! if she had lived!

Photo by: Angela Marie Henriette