Thanks for joining me here.
Read some thoughts on issues affecting daily life and life around our world. Read and join in the conversation. What moves you? How do you respond to the issues we face today?

Joel 2:13

"Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity." (Joel 2:13, NIV)
How true? How often do we symbolically rend our garments, offering a show of sorrow though our hearts remain unchanged? God doesn't care if we tear our clothes or not. He cares about the condition of our hearts. Do we repent? Do we confess and turn to Him? Our outward actions ought to align with our inward posture.

a rant

Where's the American media when you need them to report on REAL news? SRN News -- no mention of 141 killed in a Peshawar school yesterday. NPR -- leading off with the latest gossip about the Sony leak and eventually getting around to discussing whether the Taliban leader behind the massacre is insane or not. These are real lives, real lives that will never walk the face of our earth again. These are humans, like we are humans. Where's our humanity?

this morning

While John's been TDY (temporary tour of duty meaning traveling for work) this past week, Miriam and I have generally been enjoying our time together. I've been a little low on sleep owing to some late-night podcasting, facebooking, and hard-copy book reading. Last night was no different. (I started reading No Hero yesterday afternoon.)
Fast forward to this morning and I determined to do only what HAD to get done before heading to Miriam's 18 month doctor's appointment. I ran through a mental checklist: 1. the bed did not HAVE to get made, 2. I did HAVE to put on clothes, 3. I did not HAVE to put on underwear, those were already on, . . . 131. Miriam HAD to have her coat on the right way instead of backwards. Thankfully I'm feeling slightly more alert now, at 2pm.

Thanks for the Tough Times

To put this blog in context, following is something I shared at our Thanksgiving Eve service at church. If you're going through tough times, I pray this encourages you.

The first Thanksgiving celebration is traditionally considered to be the Pilgrims' feast in 1621. They celebrated their first harvest in the New World with THREE DAYS of feasting! Consider this giving of thanks for God's provision against the backdrop of what led to this point in their history. After years of religious persecution in Europe wherein they fled from country to country, they escaped to the New World and arrived at the beginning of winter in 1620. Most of the Pilgrims spent that winter on the Mayflower. Only half of the Pilgrims who embarked from Europe disembarked in March, 1621 onto the soil of the New World. The other half had died. And still the survivors gave thanks.

The next Thanksgiving celebration occurred is 1623. Once again, the Pilgrims faced dire circumstances as drought threatened their crops. Their leader declared a 14 day fast that ended with rain and a harvest celebration. Once again, thanksgiving sprung from hardship. When we choose to give thanks in tough times, we join an auspicious lineage of "tough times thanksgivers" from the Pilgrims to Paul but more on him later.

A brief summary of my recent history will make clear why I decided to talk about giving thanks for tough times. In December of 2012, when John and I were anticipating the birth of our first child, John departed for a six month deployment to Afghanistan. He was not slated to return until after Miriam's due date yet we hoped he would somehow make it back in time. We were living in St. Louis where I also worked full-time. Though we didn't have any family in the area, I remained in St. Louis during John's deployment, working at a job that became increasingly chaotic and stressful. In April, my brother died due to a car accident. John was able to redeploy and join me in Connecticut to grieve Tim's earthly death with my family. Soon after our return to St. Louis, when I was eight months pregnant, the board of my organization fired me. Miriam was born a couple weeks later and we moved to Montana a couple months after that. I arrived here in Montana a wreck, grieving the earthly departure of one of my best friends, still angry at my former employer, and dealing with a serious case of the baby blues.

So why give thanks for any of that? Well, first, I stopped asking why. I will never have a satisfactory answer to that question, this side of heaven. Next, I started grabbing ahold of God's promises. In Isaiah 41:13, God says, "For I am the LORD your God Who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, 'Do not fear; I will help you.'" I couldn't reach out my hand; instead, God took hold of my hand. This is what He does for those who are His or yet to be His. When I had absolutely nothing to offer God but my brokenness, I experienced the depths of His great love and grace as He reminded me of this promise that He would help me.

I give thanks for the tough times because they softened my heart. They made me weak and caused me to embrace Ephesians 6:10 to "be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might." When Paul wrote that verse, he was most likely in chains, unable to be strong in his own might. If Paul chose to embrace God's strength amidst prison, I wanted to do the same amidst my tough times. My despair and destitution caused me to recognize my need for God and to see that my attempts at self-help were vain.

The tough times also forced me to choose a worldly or a godly perspective. There was no middle road. I could wallow in self pity or embrace the biblical view of life that Jesus tells us about in John 16:33. "In this world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." We ought not be surprised by tribulation. Jesus told us it would come. We may live relatively charmed lives; I know I did up until 2012 and still do by many standards. But we should not be alarmed or shocked when tough times snap us out of a charmed reality. And when we face our tough times, Jesus commands cheer; He says it in the imperative tense. Another way to translate "good cheer" is "good courage." How can we have courage? Jesus tells us it's because He has overcome this world. The tough times we face on this earth are not the end of the story. Eternity with the Overcomer is the end.

I give thanks for the tough times because God used my brokenness to teach me about Himself. He deepened our relationship and increased my trust in Him. Since He brought me through that, He'll be faithful to lead me through future valleys. God led me to understand and pray Hebrews 13:21. "May He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ."


Thank God for the Americans that honor Veterans and whom honorable Veterans serve. So many online posts today, Veteran's Day, extol the virtues of the people who serve our country. Veterans earn every extolment (yes, that's a real word) through their not only their career but their very lives. I don't mean laying down their lives and dying for this country, though Veterans vow to do that when necessary. Instead, I mean choosing each and every day to serve a country through thick and thin. Veterans do not say, "I disagree with this administration; I'm not serving anymore," nor do they say, "I'm bored with my career; I'm going to leave and reinvent myself." I have the luxury of making those choices. Those serving our country do not. Those who served, did not.
Veterans adopt a lifestyle wherein their military service eclipses all aspects of life. Military families experience this when a recall occurs in the middle of the night or the active duty member gets orders to deploy or the member gets orders to move or there's an exercise on base requiring their weekend hours. When I claimed my free Starbucks coffee this morning in honor of Veteran's Day, the cashier said, "thank you for your service." I didn't correct her. You better believe that I serve, too!
Recent events have precipitated warnings for military and dependents to reduce visibility of their military affiliation. You won't see me posting a photo with anyone in uniform or writing on Facebook about how proud I am of my Veteran. There is an evil in this world that I will not knowingly inform. On the other hand, I appreciate those taking a stand to display their pride in our military, in our Veterans. Lord knows our Veterans have worked hard for and deserve this appreciation. If for only one day of the year, join me in thanking those who served and those who continue to serve.

random writings

I've been in a mood to write lately but haven't had the time to sit down to the task. The sibling book project requires lengthy periods for deep concentration and, quite frankly, it's hard for me to get the time AND feel up for that kind of concentration. So I'm writing up a couple short stories here instead.

I got my eyes dilated yesterday at my first optometry appointment in years. I forgot how that feels. Now I know what it might be like to read a magazine in 30 years, holding it as far away as possible, angling it to get the light just right so I might make out the words. Does anyone else recall dilation playing games with your eyes like this? After the appointment, I went to a client meeting. I get excited about these because they don't happen often. However, my client friend asked me what something on my computer screen said and, once again, I had to lean back and cock my head, trying to make out the words on my screen. Then I went to the gym. I was REALLY tempted to wear my sunglasses inside the brightly lit Fitness Center but then I decided that would just look really weird.

My favorite snack the past few days has been dry roasted cashews and semi-sweet chocolate morsels. Those two go together even better when I'm drinking chai. #guiltypleasures

I think everyone in this household can agree that we detest disease. Miriam is being treated for impetigo (don't worry, hers looked MUCH tamer than those pictures) and John and I got diagnosed with strep throat. Keeping track of whom was contagious and whom could share utensils was like a circus act. I think John and I successfully avoided impetigo and Miriam successfully avoided strep throat thanks to a no-sharing policy as well as trashed toothbrushes and washed linens once contagion passed. On a final note, I opted for the penicillin shot instead of a 10-day course of medicine. Be forewarned, they put these shots in butts that are then sore for days. Seriously, I regretted that decision as I tossed and turned, trying to find a comfortable sleeping position.

2 things

1. Yesterday John shared an interesting thought from a fellow commander. When we're given a test, the Teacher is generally silent during the test.

2. This morning I revisited a Scottish hymn we sang a few weeks ago. This verse struck me:
Will you love the "you" you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you've found to reshape the world around,
Through My sight and touch and sound in you and you in Me?

some good words from Bill Mills

As I work on a book about sibling loss (on a tangential note, I'm thinking of how to re-frame 'sibling loss' because Tim is not lost nor have I truly lost him; our separation is but for a time), I come across good words I want to write about but they just don't fit into the book. I share those words here so others may be encouraged.

Everything about our lives flows out of how we view God. If we have a small view of God, we will have small hearts, small relationships, and small ministries. As our view of God becomes bigger, our hearts are set free to flourish and grow. We become children who are secure in the greatness of our God, and the fruitfulness of our relationships and ministries increases.
Bill Mills,  Hope for Hurting People, 18

and one more research tidbit

From parents whose children were killed in a car accident that they survived: "Every morning we awake we say, this is one more day to prove the faithfulness of God. Every night we say, we are one day closer to seeing our children again." (Lutzer, 127)


I'm writing a book about sibling loss. To research, I've been reading a lot about grief and about heaven. While the former reading helps me process my experience, it is the latter reading that fills me with hope. Here's a snippet:
"And so while your family tends to your funeral, you are beholding the face of Christ. Though the family weeps at your departure, you would not return to earth even if the choice were given to you. Having seen heaven, you will find that earth has lost all of its attraction...
You only wish that those you left behind would know how important it was to be faithful to Christ. Looked at from the other side of the curtain, knowing what is now so clear to you, you wish that you could shout to earth encouraging believers to serve Christ with all their hearts. You wish you had grasped this before the call came for you to come up higher." ~Erwin W. Lutzer, One Minute After You Die, p. 98

The 18 month old bully

Yesterday, Miriam and I went to a kids' play group. Miriam was standing up on the edge of a plastic pool full of bouncy balls when another girl, sitting amidst the balls, stuck her hand directly into Miriam's face and pushed her away. This happened another two or three times; it wasn't harming Miriam but it wasn't the "gentle touch" I was encouraging the girl to use. The girl's mom had been in the other room with her other daughter.
Later, Miriam was standing up on a folding chair and the same girl came up to Miriam and stuck her hand in Miriam's face and pushed. Again, this happened a couple times (the mom was in the bathroom this time) before Miriam started crying. The other girl, surprised, wandered away from the scene of the crime.
When I retold my story to Dad, he said, "bullied at 11 months!" I hadn't thought of it that way but, yeah, I guess Miriam was bullied at 11 months by a much larger 18 month old. I tend to roll my eyes when I read about all the bullying hoopla. Kids are mean to other kids sometimes. I figure it's better for kids to learn life's not fair, to stand up for themselves, and to roll with the punches (well, maybe not literally on that last one).
As I started thinking about all this, I realized I've become my parent! What did Dad always tell me? "Sarah, life's not fair." After Miriam began crying, I rubbed her back and crooned, "it's ok." I wanted Miriam to stand her ground and show that little bully who's boss! Once I realized the crying wasn't stopping anytime soon, I scooped her up and held her. Perhaps it's NOT ok. It's not ok that a little bully behaved like that without recourse and it's not ok that my little one is traumatized at play group. I was truly at a loss for what to do. The girl's mom is expecting another child; she said they've been practicing gentle touch and it hasn't been going well. Should I have told the mom what her daughter did to Miriam? What's the best way to instill strength in Miriam yet comfort her hurt soul? I'm finally beginning to understand 1) why Dad always wanted me to go back and face down the bullies in my life and 2) why people make such a big deal about bullying.


We were at Daisy's Deli for breakfast this morning. Sitting at the counter were two elderly men and two elderly women. One of the women had The Bible in 366 Days for Women lying on the counter. This sparked an intense debate over how many days are in one year. The other woman insisted there are 365 days in a year but the men protested, debating amongst themselves whether it was 352 or 355 days.
At this point, John announced, "I feel like walking over and ending this all right now."
The men then proceeded to list out how many days are in each month. They added up all the days and came up with 366.

All Souls

Earlier this month, I returned to All Souls Church of Boulder, the church I attended with Jess and Tim when I stayed with them in 2010. Their bulletin has always been thoughtfully curated and following is a quote included for reflection.
"God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfurme. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever." ~Vance Havner

what once was lost

Yesterday I lost my most treasured possession, my wedding ring. After putting Miriam down for her nap, I realized I wasn't wearing it and had a sick-in-my-stomach feeling because I couldn't remember taking it off. I called all the stores where I'd stopped earlier in the day. No luck. I searched high and low in the house. Nope. I called John and left him a message, letting him know and turning his stressful day into misery. I called Dad and he immediately asked if he could pray about it.
For those of you tracking with the Hine fam saga, you'll know Dad's prayer meant a lot to me. Ever since Tim passed, I've found it difficult to pray with conviction and to believe that God might really answer our fervent prayers. Hearing Dad's faith-filled prayer pricked my heart, making me ask myself if I really believe God loves me and answers prayers.
Once John got home from work, he got out his headlamp and looked into the garbage disposal and under the mattress (in addition to every other imaginable place in our home). As we lied in bed, I reviewed every move I made from the last time I remembered having the ring. The only time that made sense where I might have taken off the ring was at Bed Bath & Beyond where I tried out a sample hand balm at the checkout counter. But I had called them and they hadn't seen it.
This morning, Miriam and I braved the wintry mix and headed to Bed Bath & Beyond. The woman at the checkout counter showed me the note by the register with my name and phone number; she reiterated that they would call if they found my ring. I asked if they have surveillance cameras and then the manager came out to help me. I showed her my receipt with the time of my purchase and she went back to review the surveillance footage. About 10 minutes later, a man came out and asked me to describe my ring and then produced it, taped to an index card. I teared up and all I could manage was, "thank you so much."
I called John and Dad, saying "praise God" for this answered prayer. Today, God lavished His love on me and reminded me He is faithful (even when I waver).

What I've been reading lately

Our Christmas trip to CT provided quality time to fellowship and READ! I read a few books that are worth exploring, depending upon your interests so here they are, in no particular order:

If I had to pick a favorite of all the books listed here, this would be it. This one had me awake until 2am more than once, reading to find out what happened to Shackleton and his men. It is an amazing story of perseverance against all odds. I won't spoil the ending but it is well-worth a read. It's also made me curious to learn more about Shackleton as a man and what made him the courageous, effective leader he was.

In a similar vein to the previous title, this filled my late nights with stories of overcoming odds in cold climes.  In addition to covering Mallory's Everest attempts, the book chronicles the discovery of Mallory's body on Everest so I wondered if that might shed new light on whether Mallory reached the highest summit in the world. Unfortunately, the book could not confirm this and the details of Mallory's final ascent remains a mystery.

This book was a gift from one of the authors, Greg Gianforte. It's excellent. Having started a start-up and then advised startups, I wish I knew of this book many years earlier as it would have saved me a lot of grief and headaches. Greg draws on personal experiences with his startup, RightNow Technologies, as well as many other startups. He includes concise steps entrepreneurs ought to consider and each chapter ends with homework for the reader.

This was a tough book for me to get into. From start to finish, I hoped for more examples to sink my teeth into. It's more theology than practical examples. While communicating theology shares broad information that we can apply to all situations, examples are helpful because they provide a context for the theology. I hesitate to recommend this book because I don't think you need to spend hours to understand the driving point. The concept is pretty simple: instead of raising little Pharisees who think they can be good enough to earn God's or parents' love, we need to show our kids their great need for God and His grace by highlighting how they can never be good enough. (If you're reading this and what I just wrote sounds really harsh and unfair to you, comment or email because I'd love to have a deeper discussion about it.)

Similar to the last book, this one took me awhile to sink my teeth into. Once again, the beginning was theology-heavy and example-light. What is it about me that needs concrete examples? Now that I'm more than halfway through it, I'm enjoying it more and more. It complements well the book I'm writing about sibling grief from a Christian perspective. So much hinges on what perspective we choose to adopt on any given day, at any given moment. Choosing joy is a conscious choice and Kay Warren, who struggles with depression, is a shining example of someone who lives that truth.

madlib introduction

I was at a military spouse social last night and we had "madlib introductions." Play along or steal this idea for your next get-together. Fill out the following:
1. your name
2. adjective
3. an event
4. verb
5. verb

Now, introduce yourself with the following madlib, using the information you filled out above:
My name is (your name). I am feeling (adjective) about the (event). I want to be remembered for (verb). I have always dreamed I would (verb).

Here's my introduction:
My name is Sarah. I am feeling delighted about the high school prom. I want to be remembered for skinny dipping. I have always dreamed I would ride in the rodeo.

That teaches me to be a little more conservative next time (or maybe not because at least half the attendees listed sleep as one of their verbs -- gotta spice things up a bit!).