Remember To Look Up

I wrote a while back about the busy culture in life (see Busy Is Not An Honor Badge) Since then, life has continued to be full. Full of teenage milestones like driving, sweet sixteen parties, and high school graduation. Full of ministry opportunities including another class, new events, running a half marathon to raise money for clean water, and reaching children and families in new ways. It’s also been a season of deep hurt and new beginnings.

I have been intentional about looking up from the busy to make sure I’m present in the moments.

Over the past few months I’ve also been out on the trails hiking and running. It’s sort of my therapy time. Time to process all the junk in my head. Time to talk with God. Time to empty out my hurts and disappointments so He can fill me with His joy.

A few weeks ago I was hiking up a mountain trail with a friend. Conversations had lead my head to recall a frustrating situation. I was lost in my thoughts and could feel my anger rising. I kept my head down on the steep section of trail, deep in thought, one foot in front of the other, focused on the step right in front of me. I stepped over the logs that went across the trail just as I had done earlier in the path. I trudged forward, completely in my own angry little world.

Then my friend’s voice behind me gently said, “Hey. Where ya goin’?”  I looked up from my tormented path to realize I wasn’t on the path at all. I was so frustrated and wrapped up in my own thoughts I didn’t even realize I was off the trail. I looked back, completely bewildered, to very clearly see the switchback to the left. Clearly. The path was clearly there. In my oblivion I had clearly missed it. Clearly.

How many times in life do we keep our heads down, focused on our own private world, and fail to recognize what is happening around us? The trail was clearly there and I so clearly missed it. How many times have I tried to do things my own way and completely missed the path that was marked out for me from the beginning??

My other recent trail experience had me on a wide path I run on along the lake. All. The. Time. The past few months I’ve been running on it at least three times a week. On this day it was rainy and miserable out but I was getting in my 9 miles with my team. Again, my head was full, I was in my own space, in my own world. But something caught my eye.

I thought I saw some animals by the waterfront. The closer I got I realized they were coyotes. I stopped above them on the trail. Maybe they were dogs. Nope. Coyotes. Another runner was coming up the wet trail and I motioned to him to see the coyotes too. Coyotes shouldn’t be on our trail! He pulled out his earbuds as he sort of kept running and said, “Oh no, they’re fake. They’re out there to scare the birds away. They’ve been there a long time.”




I can’t even begin to describe how that one moment made my head spin. It was like I caught my breath and had a huge chiropractic adjustment on my soul. In that one moment things I knew no longer made sense and things I didn’t know just did.

How could I have been running this trail and missed this? They were so clearly right there. And now that I see them, how did I not recognize them as fake. Not real. False. How have I been moving through life so focused on things that don’t have value, that aren’t real, that have been false?

How many times have I missed the true work of God around me? 

I may not ever know the answer to that question. Maybe He was giving me blinders at times to keep me focused on the path He had ahead of me. Maybe not.

I know that right now He’s reminding me to look up. Look up to Him and trust Him. Look forward on the path and see Him looking back at me. Look up and see all that He’s placing around me. Look up and keep moving forward in the direction He’s leading me. Look up and appreciate that one moment on the trail and how it’s continuing to change my path forward. Look up and appreciate the laughter, smiles, joy, and adventure of this life.


“For I know the plans I have for you…when you seek me with all your heart.”

Jeremiah 29:11-13



Reconciling 2014

IMG_6583We’re a week into 2015. I wrote some reflections on 2014 at the end of December. Then there was one more piece I had to process. It’s done. I’m not running away from 2014 in any manner, I’ve just finally put away some pieces of my past. And reclaimed some pieces of myself I mistakenly gave away. Now I’m ready to run full force into 2015. And I’m ready to share with you my reflections on this past year.

2014 was a huge year of transition for me. I entered the year completely uncertain of my future, but with a glimmer of hope on the horizon. I held my breath and jumped. I held onto God as He held onto me. And He didn’t let go—all year long.

Transition is hard. There were hard changes that were ultimately good. Still hard though. There was a lot of letting go. Letting go of people. Some through death. Some through normal life change. Letting go of old ideas. Old habits. Old dreams that no longer served my purpose.

There was also a lot of forgiveness extended, because I don’t choose to carry the hurt of anger or disappointment forward. And in forgiveness there was blessing. A complete blessing and releasing of those who had wronged me. Hurt me. I choose to no longer hold on, but pray that they are blessed. Abundantly. And in that, I experienced joy and blessing from the one who ultimately forgives me.

There was physical change.   I left a job. I sold my house. I moved my family to a different state. He blessed as I clung to Him through it all. He shook up my life to move me where I’m supposed to be right now.

My ministry to others is growing. Through church and the families I’m blessed to work with. In my writing and sharing these thoughts with others. Work He has called me to. I’m grateful. I’m humbled. I’m still in awe. I’m excited to see how He continues to grow this in the coming year.

There were also so many adventures!! Moving, many statues climbed on, trails hiked, baseball games, exploring a new city. Smiling. Laughing. Turning old. And realizing it’s not the end of the world. It’s a letting go of the things no longer needed in my life. Like fear and anxiety. It’s choosing to look for and embrace joy.

The past continues to reconcile. It is no longer a huge burden. There are still a few loose ends that don’t make sense. I’m okay with that. Because 2015 isn’t about continuing to reconcile those moments. It’s not about running from a past. 2014 took care of that, moved me past that. So I sit here on the edge of 2015 with a smile. A laugh. And a heart wide open to all the exploration, adventure and JOY He chooses to bring.

Enjoying the Gift Giver

Do you remember as a child when a distant aunt & uncle or grandparents would come to visit? Or maybe just a close family friend you didn’t get to see often would stay over? They either lived far away or life was just too busy to see them often.

I spent nine years living in Alaska as a child, so there was definitely a distance issue for us. But I loved the times my grandparents would visit. And they usually brought gifts! Good gifts!! I remember waiting and waiting for them, actually standing by the side of the road. My brother and I would dream of what kids of things they would bring us.

Then, after much anticipation, they would finally arrive! Lots of hugs, maybe a few tears of joy, several, “I can’t believe how tall you’ve gotten!” comments. Then we would ask, with a mix of eagerness and hesitation, “Did you bring us anything?” We were like kids on the ultimate Christmas morning!

My grandfather would snap us back to reality. “Hey! We just got here! Give me another hug! Besides, maybe we did bring you something, but it’s buried somewhere in the motorhome. So you’ll have to wait. Come, sit here beside me, tell me what you do during your days. You’ll have to show me all the places you go and introduce me to your friends. But for now, let me just hug you and hold you. Let me just enjoy you!”

Those were sweet times. I don’t even really remember any of the gifts. (Except for one Christmas when they bought me a much desired Mets baseball jacket!) I just loved being in their presence! Hearing grandpa’s funny stories and silly one-liners. Watching grandma lovingly care for us, making sure we had a shower that morning and every few minutes asking, “Can I get you anything? Can I make you a sandwich? Are you sure? Want a cookie?!”gift

They are both gone now. And it’s not the gifts and the things I remember most about them. It’s that they wanted to spend time with me. They wanted to know me. They wanted to enjoy me. And yes, they wanted to bless me.

It was fabulous to curl up in their laps as a child, to find refuge with their arms around me. To feel grandma’s naturally long nails running through my hair or scratching my back. I just loved to snuggle into them and spend time with them. I loved to just enjoy them.

Those memories bring a sweet smile to my face. Easy going times just resting in their presence. And as I reflect on those times, I wonder how often I just rest in my Heavenly Father’s presence. How often do I just sit with Him, letting Him know me rather than clinging for the good gifts He promises.

Jesus longs to bless us. He wants to give us good gifts. Sometimes He even lets us see a glimpse of what is to come. When He’s done that for me, I instantly feel like that wide-eyed child again. “For me? Really?! That’s what you want to give me?!”

Eager anticipation sets in! Because that is usually a glimpse, a foretaste of what is to come. Not yet. Not now. So I set about in my human ways. Ok! If that’s what Father God wants for me, I had better set to work to get to that spot. I should either live life fully until that point or be consumed and busy working to get it!

Then, the Holy Spirit gently whispers and reminds me of a few things. “Hey! Just sit with us awhile. Just enjoy us. Father God longs to bless, and you can wait with confident expectation that He will bless you. But in the waiting, just sit and enjoy His presence. Be reminded of who He is to you. Snuggle in the embrace. Enjoy His creation. Enjoy the gift giver—the one who gives good gifts—more than the gift itself.