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Showing posts from 2015

a three+ month sabbatical

As you may have noticed, I took a break from blogging. I often say, "life got in the way," or, "life got busy." Just the usual like becoming pregnant, hosting many visiting friends and family, preparing for my husband's Air Force retirement, interviewing for jobs in new locations, and preparing for my sister's wedding. Maybe a bit unusual for all of this to happen all at once but someone mused yesterday that military life tends to be like this. There must be some unwritten rule that you can't move unless you're pregnant or a new parent. The truth is that military life as we know it is coming to an end. This upcoming move marks our final PCS or permanent change of station. By God's grace, we've arrived at a location we're excited about (TBA with final details and all) and trust we'll find a home that suits us. This is one of the final times I'll sit in my new favorite coffee shop, having a "me morning" to write so I thoug

Memories of India

When asked to describe India, I recall sensory overload. The colors, the flavors, the sounds, the textures, the smells all intensified. I lived in Delhi, a caldron of sensory splendor -- vibrant marigold garlands and fuchsia sarees, Aunty's to-die-for aloo gobi parathas with ghee, the ceaseless honking, the red crumbling stone of the Deer Park madrasa, the sweet jasmines in the evening -- all of it floods back to memory and I'm transported back to India. Before I lived in Delhi, however, I worked with an NGO up north in Himachal Pradesh. On my first trip up there, the "luxury" buses were sold out so a kind gentleman managed to book me three seats on a local bus. Picture school bus-style seats for rather thin, five-foot-tall individuals. I had an entire seat to my self and, honestly, that was an unheard of luxury to locals. My mountaineering-sized backpack sat in the "aisle" seat and I took up the remaining two "seats." The kind gentleman explain

A Celebration of Life: a short story

This story was written for a Montana Public Radio contest. Enjoy! A Celebration of Life As I drive closer to the mountains, my finger instinctively hits the Montana Public Radio-programmed button. Hopefully I’ll catch the weather forecast before I lose service. I checked before I left home; it’s going to be bitterly cold, -10 degrees Fahrenheit, but at least the snow should be safe to traverse. I’m hoping Eric Whitney buoys my hopes by forecasting a balmy 0 degrees. Either way, I’ve got to get outside. The mountains are calling my name so I do what any rational Montanan does and head out. The weather report forecasts more bitter-coldness and as static overtakes the news, I switch to a folk CD. Pulling into the parking lot, I notice I’m the only vehicle here. Not surprising -- who else would be crazy enough to be out on a night like this? All of my buddies are back home, enjoying a hot beverage, reading a good book, and stoking the fire but let’s not think about those creature

Highwood Baldy -- another Montana Misadventure

At the outset, I'll premise this post by stating a few aims dependent upon your geography and adventure-lust. First, if you live in Montana and have a high adventure quotient, this post aims to help you steer clear of the mistakes we made as you attempt to climb Highwood Baldy from the Deer Creek Trailhead. Second, if you live in Montana and are intimately familiar with this route, you might sympathize and/or laugh at the predicament we found ourselves in. Finally, if you live outside Montana, this post aims to provide some comic relief to your day. I've coined the term "Montana Misadventure" because it characterizes so many of our outings in this great state. Highwood Baldy is the highest landmark near our home. It calls to us as it rises out of the plains in its island range of the Highwood Mountains. We had to summit it! Last year, we tried walking up the service road then returned to our car when high winds left our 1 year old daughter wailing in her baby backp

a favorite song

When you have a quiet moment to yourself, listen to this song . Miriam loves the group performing which led me to discover this balm for the soul. The beautiful Elle whom I've written about previously passed into glory recently. In the wake of her death, the lyrics "learn the rhythms of My grace" struck me. God's grace takes unexpected forms. The rhythm seems syncopated, at best, and cacophony in the midst of tragedy. Slowing to stillness helps us see Him at work. This song also ministered to me this morning as I thought about the future of my little family. We learned last week that John will be taking early retirement in November, leading us into a great unknown ... but God knows. The song asks, "have you been in a hurry," then responds, "I will slow the pace." Once again, slowing to stillness allows me to see God at work within my family. I overlook His grace when I rush about, checking off to-do items, checking in on Facebook, and neglecting

A Smith River Tale

Our alarm sounded on Thursday in the pre-dawn hours which is saying a lot for Montana this time of year when the days are long. At 5:15am we met up with our friends who pulled the permit for our trip. Every year Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks conducts a lottery, allowing nine groups to embark each day on the Smith River from Camp Baker. May 14th was our designated "put in." We joined two more members of our group at Camp Baker where they had literally camped out the night before to ensure we got our pick of available campsites. Campsite sign-ups begin at 7:30am the day before the scheduled put in. We packed our three rafts (I mostly wandered around Camp Baker with Miriam, making new friends) and were glad to leave behind the impatient fellow rowers anxious to assume their positions on the ramp once we departed. photo credit: Krista Koljonen We designated this trip in honor of Love146's Tread on Trafficking initiative so our raft bore the Love146 logo. On our l

A Life Less Burdened

Have you ever noticed that the things that bother us most about other people tend to be things that we do, too? For example, this morning a woman spoke at a meeting I attended. Before launching into her story, however, she qualified it; her qualification bothered me. I felt like saying, "Hey, you can just tell your story. We'll believe you." This little annoyance gnawed at me until I realized that I, too, have a habit of qualifying what I say. Typically, I visualize what I will say or write and anticipate my audience's critiques. Then I circle back to what I plan to communicate and revise so as to fill in the gaps and leave no room for arguments. This little game wears me out. Do you ever do the same thing? Today as my mind wandered, I wondered how to consciously live a life less burdened. I write "consciously" because we can choose to unburden ourselves from our exhausting mind games. I'll start by ceasing to qualify my statements -- to guard my mouth

some hope for tomorrow

It's easy to become mired in all that's wrong with our world but today two images of hope encouraged me. They both relate to recent posts so regular readers might be encouraged by these updates, as well. The first image I saw was of a baby rescued 22 hours after the earthquake. Seeing this photo on Facebook led to a search for this photolog of the recovery efforts. There's also a brief English summary at the bottom of the page. The most touching two images capture a woman who must be the baby's mother. First, she stands at the front of the waiting crowd, distress clouding her face. Then she is overcome with emotion as her baby boy is recovered ALIVE! I read another story on Kathmandu Today  of a teenager safely rescued today, six days after the initial earthquake! The next image of hope relates to my post on prayer  where I shared about Elle battling a brain tumor. Today, for the first time since Elle went into a coma almost three weeks ago,  Alli was able

What in the world?

Many things today lie heavy on my heart. Allow me a moment to share with you. Baltimore Rioting in Baltimore ignited by Freddie Gray's death drove me to tears. "What is this country coming to," I wanted to scream. Instead, I laid all those tears and anguish out to God. I pleaded for Love to intervene and break through the hatred, abuse, and misinformation. This kind of radical Love will transform this country -- we can be Love's agents. Nepal In 2003, I lived in Kathmandu and hung out with street kids. Gautam and Rekha Rai served as our local host family along with their boisterous crew of biological and adopted children. Following the earthquake, Gautam sprang into action. What a blessing to be able to send some funds to help Gautam help whomever he meets in his relief efforts! Another one of our friends, Silas, is heading over this week to use his counseling and Nepali skills to provide critical incident debriefing for survivors and first responders. He will a


A friend called this morning with exciting news. She had just received a job offer. As she shared the news, I got misty-eyed and here's why -- we had agreed to pray about her job situation. This same friend had called me earlier this week, sharing her struggles with her current work situation that leaves her in tears at the end of every long day. On the phone, we talked about God calling us to specific places for specific times, though His ways be unknown to us. The only purpose my friend could derive from her current situation is one professional client who seems to appreciate her. We don't know the details of that client's life. Perhaps she needs a bit of encouragement from my friend, someone to believe in her and point her in the right direction. Perhaps we'll never know how God has used my friend in her current situation. Regardless, before we ended our phone call, we agreed to pray about her job situation. When my friend called today, I teared up because God confi

my birthday

My birthday used to be my favorite day of the year. Then, two years ago, my birthday marked the last day on earth that I saw my brother, Tim. Now, my birthday reminds me of him. Each year, this bittersweet day forces me to choose between life or death, between mourning what I thought would be or embracing what will be. When I read friends' Facebook posts and text messages, receive their calls, open their cards and gifts, or spend my birthday in their joyful presence, each sentiment reinforces the value of life. Living on this earth doesn't always feel like a blessing but I'm learning to see life as God's grace. He gives us life -- a grace in itself -- and  He designs us to live in community with one another to grace our neighbors (from Austin to India) with ourselves. You are His beautiful creation and your presence in my life graces me with more of Him. Thank you for being instruments of God's grace in my life on my birthday and everyday.

food for thought

I've watched and read a few things over the past week worth passing on. Here's the short list. 1. Sinclair Ferguson: Christ's Message to the Church What a compelling, convicting message for today's church. Skip lamenting the shift of western culture -- what the church needs today is a dose of this stuff! 2. Land of No Use movie My interest in this film stems from its concentration on the land use debate in Montana, particularly lands designated as wilderness. It also features some beautiful backcountry ski scenes. 3. "We have trouble digesting randomness; our brains crave pattern and meaning." ~ The Age of Disbelief , National Geographic March 2015 , p. 40 This quote comes from an article about the proliferation of opinions lacking scientific support (think vaccinations, fluoridation, etc.). While I disagree with some of the article, this quote stood out to me as true in most every sense of human nature.


"Glitter falling from the sky," he described yesterday's scene and, indeed, today glitter falls from the sky. As sunlight catches snowflakes drifting off the roof, the snowflakes become glitter from the celestial Shaker, creating a magical scene. This extraordinary and beautiful sight seemed to gently enter our world from another. This reminded me of a scene in Boyhood  where the protagonist asks his dad about magic. “Dad, there’s no real magic in the world, right? Like, this second, there’s no elves in the world, right?” The dad responds by describing magical whales and admitting elves do not exist. The other-worldly behavior of whales is magical but I still prefer John's response: "we're not aware of elves in the world but that doesn't mean they don't exist." I wonder how we foster a sense of magical thinking in children and in ourselves. Perhaps more accurate adjectives would be "extraordinary" and "fantastic." Do we qui

Introducing a new look

For faithful (or even occasional) readers of this site, you'll notice a couple changes. These have been made in anticipation of more to come. Perhaps you've heard me talk about the book I'm writing. I'm taking a look at sibling loss and the hope that God provides to surviving siblings. I've been collecting stories from other surviving siblings to share in this book, endeavoring to encourage other siblings who are journeying through loss. I may showcase some of that writing on this site. The next step in my writing process involves reaching out to potential agents with a goal of publishing this book with a traditional publisher. With that in mind, I've given this site a facelift and invite your feedback. As the top of this website indicates, I'd like to involve you in dialogue about the issues about which I write. Or, what issues are on your heart? I'd love to delve into those and perhaps even offer guest blog posts! As always, thanks for reading and fo

& today I'm walking kinda funny

After I lost it yesterday, I went to the gym to work off steam. I squatted five sets of 10 reps each. Today I'm unable to walk upright. I'm pretty sure I overextended my back in an attempt to maintain my lumbar curve. That may sound like gobbledy-gook to you. The long and short of it is that my back REALLY hurts today. In researching my overextension issue (& leaning forward issue, too), I came across this gem: " Chances are you’ll Squat less weight after trying to fix your lean forward with the above tips. This can be hard on your ego and it’s tempting to go back to Squatting by leaning forward so you get your regular weight and reps. But you’ll never stop leaning forward if you keep doing it." Read more: How applicable is this to the rest of life? We want to keep pushing because we've successfully accomplished something in the past. When we realize we need to back up and course-correct, we want to keep pushin

today, i lost it

today, i lost it. i positively, absolutely had a melt-down. you'd probably expect that of my 20 month old daughter but not today. we went to Barnes & Noble with a friend and her three year old daughter. miriam was pulling things off shelves faster than i could put them back. we should have left then. instead, i tried to stick it out and make this rare get-together work. we sat on the floor, reading a book together until miriam ripped the page out of the book. at that point, i picked up my purse, swooped miriam under one arm, and grabbed the torn book with my free hand, marching all of us up to the front counter. i paid for the book and my sweet friend tried to redeem the visit with a quick catch-up as we stood by the exit. i could feel tears invading my eyes and begged her forgiveness for not being up to a visit at that point. as we sat in the car, hot tears streamed down my face. why was this so damn hard? why did i bother even going to Barnes & Noble where i knew miriam