An R rated Easter Story

“In the days when the Judges ruled……” Ruth 1:1

My husband tells me nothing gets his High School Bible History students opening up their bible faster then when he begins to describe the lewd acts described in the Old Testament book of Judges. Rape, incest, child sacrifice. It’s a bloody and brutal book. This time in history that also holds one of the best Easter stories never told on Easter Sunday.

I can’t imagine a pastor in the world that will recall the story of the Levite and his concubine recorded in the book of Judges on Easter Sunday. We want the victory story, we want the sermon short so we can get to our family gatherings, and easter egg hunts. This is not time for ugly. I can’t imagine a pastor in the world that would tell the one, the one where a Levite is traveling with his concubine and needs a place to stay for the night. The one where a hospitable older man invites them in and he provides dinner and drinks. The one where they are having a lovely time and a sudden loud pounding is heard at the front door.

“While they were enjoying themselves (eating dinner and visiting..) some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old many who owned the house, ‘Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.’ Judges 19:22


But it gets worse.

“The owner of the house went outside and said to them, ‘No, my friends, don’t be so vile. Since this man is my guest, don’t do this disgraceful thing. Look here is my virgin daughter, and his concubine. I will bring them out to you now, and you can use them and do to them whatever you wish. But to this man, don’t do such a disgraceful thing.” But the men would not listen to him. So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go. At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight. Judges 19: 23-26

Everything about this makes me want to cry. The request of the evil men. The apparent ease at which the virgin daughter and concubine are offered as a replacement to satisfy the sexual hunger of these men. The detail that we see in the events of the night – so brutal it left the woman dead on the doorpost. It is frightening to think that women and children today are still caught in industries that sell their bodies for sex.

It’s in the middle of all this mess, the middle of all this pain, destruction, idol worship that we find my new, favorite Easter Story. OK – some might say its not an Easter story – which typically deals with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and all the events surrounding it. But without this story….. there would be no other. I’m pretty sure you will not hear about this in your Easter Service. And it starts right here….

In the days when the Judges ruled….

At the beginning of 2023 I was looking for a bible study resource. A friend suggested a reading plan that would guide me through the entire bible in one year – something I have never done. It is simple. Read 3-4 chapters a day and listen to a 5 – 8 minute podcast summing up the chapters. I am a podcast junkie so I was in. It was this new practice that revealed those most amazing words.

In those days when the Judges ruled…

I couldn’t wait to get through the book of Judges. As evidenced by account of the Levite and his concubine that I have shared, its a brutal, bloody, heart wrenching book. Tara- Leigh Cobble author of The Bible Recap ( the plan I am following) says it is a clear picture of life lived apart from God. When we stop seeking his wisdom, stop receiving his grace, stop looking for his direction… the lifestyle of the people of Judges is where we would all land. It is depressing and sad. How glad I was to turn the pages to a sweet little book that I knew well… Ruth.

I’ve read the story of Ruth dozens of times. I’ve studied it. I’ve taught it. I’ve heard sermons on it. I’ve acted out parts of the narrative with my children during our evening family devotions when they were young. Never in all my years though did my heart leap like it did when I read those opening lines.

In those days when the Judges ruled…

This story of an unassuming, bitter widow knocked down by life and her loyal daughter in law – equally deserving of sympathy with her shared title of widow is tucked in the middle of one of the ugliest times in Israels History. “In those days Israel had no king and everyone did as they saw fit.” Judges 21:25. These two women -Namoi an Israelite and her daughter in law Ruth a Moabite, were lost and without hope. Their husbands were dead and the land of Moab where they were living did not have a plan in place to provide for widows like Naomi’s home land of Judah. It was decided that they would return home to Bethlehem. Despite Naomi’s encouragement for Ruth to stay behind with her parents – Ruth insisted on going. Ruth was a foreigner and Naomi was concerned with how she would be received.

“But Ruth replied, ” Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me. ” Ruth 1: 16

The rest of this story reveals a beautiful account of restoration and redemption. In God’s goodness he leads Ruth to a field to gather the scraps left behind after harvest to provide for she and Naomi. Ruth works hard with one desire – to provide for she and her mother in law. She is noticed by the owner of the land who then instructs his workers to drop extra for her when they are harvesting and to not touch her. Through the most fascinating turn of events – the land owner named Boaz and Ruth marry. He is kind, he is loyal to God’s law, he is respected among men. He is everything I didn’t know existed in the time of the Judges. You will really want to read all the details of this story yourself. Oh it’s so good!

If this story ended with the marriage of Boaz and Ruth and the birth of their son it would have been good. This little sentence would have been the pretty bow to tie up this sweet package. “So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. Then he went to her and the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.” Ruth 4: 13. It would have offered hope that not all the world had gone crazy in the time of the Judges.

But it doesn’t. The last verses, the zingers, the ones that I wish would be spoken on Easter Sunday because my goodness… I need to know that in our world that feels so hopeless some days, we still have reason to hold on.

The book that opens in the middle of a mess, ends with the reminder that God worked, can work, is working, will work… in the middle of ours.

“And they named the son Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the Father of David.” Ruth 4: 17

The David. King David. The ancestor of Jesus. Jesus Christ. The one who lived, died and rose again. The one we celebrate on Easter. The one who removes our guilt and shame and points us to a better future.

Ruth, the Moabite widow and Boaz the land owner that chose to live a God fearing life in a culture that did anything but that, gave birth to the son that lead to the birth of the next son and next son and next son that eventually led to the baby born in the manger… Son of God and Son of Man.

It’s hard to imagine that there can be good in the middle of evil. When our minds can only see bad news it feels impossible to believe that God is working behind the scenes in the messy middle. It’s hard to believe that God can take our messes, our mistakes, our poor choices and redeem them all.

But He Can.

But He will.

But HE is.

He IS.

Because He is Risen… Risen indeed.


Shower using fragrance free soap.

No deodorant or perfume.

No food or drink after Midnight….

No drink = no coffee. ugh.

We would leave the house at 5:00 a.m. to arrive for pre-op and then surgery at 6:30 am. I just wanted to get to the hospital so I could go back to sleep. The no coffee thing is a big deal. Tom tells me I’m addicted… and he’s not wrong. I prep my coffee the night before and it is literally the first thing I do in the morning. Push my coffee start button, let the dog out, take my vitamins, pour a cup and then settle in to my chair for the most important hour of my day. More on that later.

From the moment I received my cancer diagnosis on Oct. 31, 2022 I’ve been in GO mode both personally and professionally. I have looked forward to this day, writing day, for months. I have thousands of words and lessons and thoughts I have wanted to process via this blog but just couldn’t, wouldn’t take the time to do so. When I look back on my last blog, Dec. 20, 2022 I remember that I waited to write and now I’ve waited again. A college friend remarked, “I was surprised by your sudden announcement of your diagnosis… and wondered why.” In a world where we have access into thousands of peoples stories it is interesting that we have an expectation of knowing and needing people to know about all the nitty gritty of our lives.

I have learned a gazillion things about the words “Cancer diagnosis”, one being that each persons journey is each persons journey. Although we have a long way to go in understanding how to eradicate cancer there is a great deal we do know which allows for very specific treatment plans for each person. This means that when one receives a diagnosis it is not helpful to google it and think all the things you read from treatment protocol to side effects will be relevant to you or your loved one.

The uniqueness of each persons situation is not limited to the treatment plan but also to how they will share their journey with others. When we returned home from my lumpectomy… Tom said, “Well, we’ve had harder days.” And he was right. Surgery of any kind is nothing to shake a stick at but over the course of our almost 30 years of marriage we have had ring side seats to some pretty significant health challenges with our children, our parents and some extended family. All of those seasons impacted my decisions on how and who to bring into my cancer journey. The words in these series of blogs are not prescriptive but offered as food for thought. You may be walking into or in the middle of a really hard life season and part of the stress you are experiencing may be from feeling a need to keep all people “in the loop.” Let me be the first to tell you… that is not true.

Shut the door

“You don’t have to let them in.” It was a nurses aid that taught me one of the most important lessons on how to navigate difficult life seasons. We were in the middle of determining the cause of illness impacting the mobility, speech, response, over all function of our seven year old son. He was a medical mystery which meant he was a curiosity to all the doctors, medical students, nurses and friends and family. This sweet young aid looked me in my exhausted eyes and said, “Beth, you don’t have to let them in. The only people that need to be here are your doctors. Put a sign on the door indicating this and you will stop being bombarded.” Wow – I had no idea – boundaries??? We began to realize that we not only could limit entrance to the medical staff but also to well meaning, yet energy draining, friends and family. We were realizing that when some people would see first hand the enormity of the situation we were put in the position of offering comfort and assurance to them. Any energy I had was being poured into care for my son and making sure my daughters were taken care of and my relationship with Tom. Period. On more then one occasion I politely thanked our friends for coming to visit but shared that our son needed rest and we wouldn’t be able to visit. The only people we allowed in brought joy, belief and bold prayers. When they left we would all feel restored and rejuvenated.

As much as people thought they would be able to handle the situation, we knew they couldn’t. I am reminded of a time I pressed Tom for information on a situation with members of our church that he pastored years ago. I knew part of the story but not all. Tom has always been so good about not sharing confidential information and was determined to stay his per usual course. I thought it made sense for me to know “the rest of the story” because I already new part of it. Tom understood this and was still hesitant to share not because it would be wrong but because he knew I would not want the knowledge of someone else’s bad choices in my mind. I promised it would not impact me.

But it did. Dang it. It was more than I wanted and my heart and head took on a heaviness that was not necessary. There was absolutely nothing I could do about this situation. Hard lesson learned. I now believe that we are not physically or emotionally designed to carry all the worlds challenges that technology now provides access to sharing. Sharing too much, too soon can be exhausting to both the giver and the receiver. Discernment is critical.

The most important hour.

As I sat down to write my mind swirled with memories, lessons, gratitude, questions that I wanted to put into words. I prayed about where to start and what to share. I sat snuggled in our big over stuffed chair, with my 2nd cup of coffee warming my hands and it became clear. Start with the pre-op. Actually the pre, pre op. The Pre that preceded the diagnosis, the surgery the radiation treatments. The pre ops that have been happening in this very chair, with this favorite coffee mug for months prior to this crazy season. The pre-ops that have occurred in the most important hour of my day.

The writer of the book of Hebrews reminds us that the “Word of God is living and active.” Heb 4:12. This means it has the power to impact our very lives each and every day. It is filled with truth, promises, commands, hope. The Word paired with the direction of the Holy Spirit is what God left for us to guide us through each season. If each day brings its own set of challenges then I know I need a fresh look at HIS direction… on a daily basis. My most important hour of the day habit is the one I pray I have passed on to my children and I pray they pass on to theirs. As I look back through my journal that accompanies my time in the word each morning… I clearly see how the Lord we prepping me for the current season I have walked through. I recognize the words he was highlighting in my daily hour with him were faith seeds being planted and taking root… to give a strong structure on the day my life would shift in a matter of seconds and one quick phone call. It was also the pre-op words that provided peace and wisdom when discerning who and when to share my journey.

I knew clearly the order in which we would reveal my diagnosis..

Our Children.

Our siblings.

My “Life Board of Directors.” 3 friends that know everything about me and love me anyway.

10 prayer warriors.

I was also clear on who would not be brought in immediately.

My entire social media community.

My parents. huh? For most of my life my mom and dad would have been the first to receive my news. They have been my rock and foundation through many decisions and challenging seasons.

Interesting isn’t it. The Lord may guide you in ways that may not make sense to the rest of the world. A world that prescribes loudly how you should and should not walk out your personal journey. This is why I know my pre op time is so important. I need to clearly and loudly understand God’s direction in each and every situation.

Below is a glimpse into the lessons I was given in my pre-op season aka the month prior to my first mammogram. I share scripture verses, quotes, items from my to do list. These all live in a journal that sits next to my over stuffed chair that greets me each morning for my most important hour of the day. Maybe you’ll skim my entries, maybe you’ll read each detail or maybe you’ll skip all together. However you decide to proceed I pray that you consider finding some time for pre-op with your Lord each day, the physician of your soul. I also offer my time to anyone desiring direction on where and how to start this practice.

September 15, 2022:

“I have something hard but important to say to you..” Matthew 26:21

“Go out and train everyone you meet far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day. Right up to the end of the age. ” Matthew 28:19-20.

Monday Sept. 19, 2022:

Lord, give me a heart that expects your clear direction and intervention. Journal entry. Colorado Springs, CO.

Wednesday Sept. 21, 2022:

“Jesus was matter of fact: ” Embrace this God life. Really embrace it and nothing will be too much for you. Take this mountain for instance, Just say “Go jump in the lake, no shuffling or hemming and hawing – and it’s good and done. Thats why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life and you’ll get God’s everything.”

“Jesus told them “You’re all going to feel that your world is falling apart and that it’s my fault.” Mark 14:27-28

Sunday Sept. 25, 2022

“Because you love me Lord – I can always live, work in peace. I can trust you will reveal everything I need to know about next steps. I can be present with the people you put in my path. I can unconditionally love those around me.” Journal Entry

Sunday Oct. 2, 2022.

“A persons fear sets a trap for Him but one who trust the Lord is safe.” Proverbs 29:25

Wednesday Oct. 5, 2022.

“The Lord says, “My thoughts are not like yours. Your ways are not like mine. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

Thursday Oct. 6, 2022.

Create template for a Breast Cancer Awareness fundraiser for my team. (Item on my work to-do list)

Friday Oct, 7, 2022.

I don’t have the ability to carry out God’s will except to be where he wants me to be. ( Journal entry)

Saturday Oct. 8, 2022.

“I will praise the Lord who counsels me even at night my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tounge rejoices, my body will rest secure.” Psalm 16

Wednesday Oct. 12, 2022

Wise counsel leads to peace – even when circumstances remain hard. ( Journal Entry)

“You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning. My God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop. With my God – I can scale a wall. ” Psalm 18:28-29

Life doesn’t get easier – we get better, stronger, more trusting in our God who is faithful. ( Journal entry)

Friday Oct. 14, 2022.

Yearly Mammogram. Centerpoint Medical Building, Independence MO

Monday Oct. 17, 2022

“Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence Him. With them alone He shares the secrets of His promises. My eyes are ever looking to the Lord for help, for he alone can rescue me.” Psalm 25:14-15

Wednesday Oct. 19, 2022.

“The steps of a good and righteous man are directed and established by the Lord, and he delights in his way (and blesses his path.) And when he falls, he will not be hurled down, because the Lord is the one who holds his hand and sustains him.

Thursday Oct. 20, 2022.

Notification that a shadow was detected in the image from my mammogram. My doctor would like a closer look. Schedule a second mammogram and ultrasound for Monday Oct. 24.

Friday Oct. 21, 2022.

Celebrate my 52 birthday with friends on our deck. It was a beautiful night and a sweet celebration.

Sunday Oct. 23, 2022.

“I have set the Lord always before me because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefor my heart is glad and my tounge rejoices and my body will rest secure. Psalm 16:8-9

Message my friend to see if she can join me for my second mammogram and ultrasound.

Monday Oct. 24, 2022.

Second Mammogram and Ultrasound.

Hour conversation with Jonah while he discerns next steps after missing a medication dose needed to navigate his epilepsy. Did this while riding my exercise bike. Finished with enough time to shower and travel the 40 minutes to my appointment. It was a day of strong winds and rains both to and from the appointment. So glad my friend was with me.

Appointment confirms the shadow discovered in first mammogram is indeed a mass. Meet with nurse manager to schedule biopsy to determine if it is cancerous.

My sister calls. She is requesting that I make a trip to Texas to help my parents pack for their move. After months of anticipation they will relocate to a senior living center 1 hour from me. Mom has been diagnosed with Alzheimers and a smaller home closer to family is needed. I share the news that I have need of a biopsy and my sister immediately adjusts her work and family life to stay longer to help our parents. It all feels like really bad timing. My sister and I make the decision to not share this information with our parents due to the enormous stress of their current transition season. I would pray about the appropriate time to share.

Tuesday Oct. 25,2022.

Journal Entry: Gratitude list

  • Warm blanket
  • Modest male ultrasound tech
  • Clarity with each step
  • Cindy riding with me. Cindy’s prayer for me in the car while I cried in the parking lot.
  • Lisa’s text that brought light and love.
  • energy to lead business events from 6:30 pm to 10 p.m. the night of my appointment.
  • Toms’ volleyball team wins in 3!
  • Jonah – finds the right meds.

Wed. Oct 26, 2022

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28

“Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it goodbye, you can’t be my disciple. Luke 14:33 MSG

Thursday Oct. 27, 2022

Biopsy – morning

Saturday Oct. 29, 2022

Thoughts from Romans 12 The Message Version:

-Fix my attention on God

  • God brings the best out of you, Develops well formed maturity in you.
  • Love from the center of who you are.
  • Discover beauty in everyone
  • Don’t quit in hard times, pray all the harder.
  • Don’t let evil get the best of you, get the best of evil by doing good.

Sunday Oct. 30, 2022

You make known to me the path of life, you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11 NIV

I always remember that the Lord is with me. He is here, close by my side, so that nothing can defeat me.” ERV Psalm 16:11

Monday Oct. 31, 2022

Journal Entry: List of God Attributes

  • Creator
  • In Charge
  • Give authority in Heaven and earth
  • Direct my Path
  • Light
  • You give me ALL that I need
  • You support me
  • You give me my share
  • Your word sustains.

” I pray that God will open our minds to see His truth. Then we will know the hope that he has chosen us to have. We will know that the blessings God has promised his holy people are rich and glorious. And we will know that God’s power is very great for us who believe. It is the same as the mighty power He used to raise Christ from death and put him at His right side in the heavenly places. He put Christ OVER ALL the rulers, authorities, powers and kings. He gave him Authority over everything that has power in this world or the next world. God put everything under Christs power and made him head over everything for the church. The church is Christ’s body. It is filled with him. He makes everything complete in every way. ” Eph 1:18- 19.

11:15 a.m. I receive a call that my biopsy has confirmed Ductal Carcinoma- Breast cancer. My doctor is personal friends with the best surgeon in town and he immediately sends a text directly to her personal phone. His message moved me to the top of her list. One week later I would meet with Dr. Mindi Beahm Surgeon to discuss biopsy results, next steps.

11:30 a.m. Move back into a long list of tasks connected with my business. We would finish one of our best production months as a team in my 20 years in business. It would appear that my next months would hold both great joy and challenge in many areas of my life.

Nov. 1, 2022

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all Grace will himself complete, confirm, strengthen and establish you, (making you what you ought to be) To Him be dominion, power, authority, sovereignty forever and ever Amen.” 1 Peter 5

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God ( set aside self righteous pride) so that He may exalt you ( to a place of honor in His service) at the appropriate time, casting all my cares (all my anxieties, all my worries, and all my concerns, once and for all) on Him, for He cares about me and my family with deepest affection and watches over us very carefully.” 1 Peter 5:6-7

Today we would tell our kids about my diagnosis. This concerned me more than the actual diagnosis. My pre-op time with Jesus confirmed this was where we would start our reveal. It also provided me with the peace needed in each phone call we made to our three children.

My pre-op was critical. It was the hours with Jesus that preceded this season that have made all the difference. It gave me the lens to look through, the faith muscle to lean on and the discernment to know when and how to share, to not share.

On the eve of my last radiation treatment this week I received news that a young mom in our town was not doing well. She had battled aggressive cancer for the last two years. It appeared that her journey on earth would soon come to a close. The same evening we became aware of an active shooter on the campus of Michigan State University – a place near and dear to our families heart. I fell asleep holding the excitement of my cancer treatments ending the next day in one hand and the unknown of a woman’s cancer journey and the lives of thousands of college students in the other. I spent the next morning receiving my last treatment, delivering cookies to the staff, ringing my bell and going out for a celebratory lunch with a friend. I returned home to watch a few moments of the Parade being held for the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl champions, while reading a text that the sweet young mom had indeed ended her cancer battle and was now in the arms of Jesus and that 3 college students were confirmed dead and 5 in critical condition after the rampage of a rouge gunman at MSU. Mountain peaks and valleys – indeed.

Whew. Pre- op. Daily time with Jesus. Listening, learning, crying out, celebrating, questioning.. the one who holds each day in his hand. If you are reading this feeling like you just cant hold it all together – the highs and lows of this life… because you are trying to do it all alone.. Let me confirm…

You’re right.

It may be time for your own personal Pre-op time.

Make an appointment today.

Your Doctor is IN.

Colorado Springs, Sept. 2022. Part of my pre-op month was spent with my oldest daughter after her knee surgery. Another unexpected event that reminded me of a need for a close walk with the Lord.

Uninvited Guests

I am expecting the Lord to rescue me again, so that once again I will see his goodness to me here in the land of the living. Don’t be impatient. Wait for the Lord and he will come and save you! Be brave, stouthearted, and courageous. Yes, wait and he will help you. Psalm 27:13-14

No one strategizes a seating chart like a group of girls picking a table for our high school prom. The hours spent discussing first, who will be at the table and then second who sits next to who rival planning of any major corporate Christmas party. Factors such as how long the couple has been dating to who irritates who the most all play in to the discussion. Throw in a last minute date change and things can get real spicy, real quick. It is no surprise that when given the opportunity to exert some type of control on a night that holds such high expectations for possibly the best night of their lives, 16 year olds will take it.

And wouldn’t we all.

Nothing spoils a good dinner party like the unexpected, sometimes uninvited annoying guest. If given the chance to keep all uncomfortable conversation at bay I will certainly take it. I naturally seek out those that I know and love when put in a situation where I have a choice.

Don’t you?

When given the choice between……

People that irritate, have caused or are currently causing pain. People that make me feel unsafe and unloved.


People that celebrate, welcome and even challenge me (in a good way) .

I would pick the second group 10 out of 10 times.

One bad guest has the potential to ruin the night. One disturbing presence and all the fabulousness of the event can waft right out the window.

But gosh….

Lately it feels like those folks from choice number 1, or in my life, those circumstances, diagnosis, keep showing up, pulling up a chair, raising their voice with their glass and proclaiming in a loud voice….

Look at me!!!!

The morning was cold and dark and I was groggy and thirsty as my husband and I began our trip to the medical center 40 minutes from our home. My mind was darting between the thought of my upcoming surgery and the funeral of a young man taken too soon. Both happening on the same day, at the same time. Both uninvited guests to my personal table and the ones of a family living in the same small town that I do. Going into a procedure requiring anesthesia, rest, followed by the possibility of several months of treatments when everything in me felt Just. Fine…..

Did not make sense.

Just like the thought of a young wife and mother attending the funeral of her husband. What in the world?

2 enemies.

2 tables.

No invitations but both clearly present.

Both boldly proclaiming that they would now be taking all our joy,

all our peace

all our power.


Traffic accidents.

Gosh I want the imagined control of the 16 year old picking a seating chart for the prom. I want to dismiss the obnoxious boy that will ruin the night and only include my favorite people. I want all of life to be instagram post worthy with warm filters and smiles on faces that make all want to trade places at the beautifully decorated table I have set.

But they show up. Those uninvited guests. Enemies to our soul.

And yet, in this season …. I am reminded that their presence does not have to steal my presents. The gifts of a good dinner party that can remain when I choose to shift my focus. When I intentionally move my eyes from the uninvited guest to the generous host that has a glorious banquet prepared in their presence. I sometimes believe that the enjoyment of the dinner party will only come when the irritating person or circumstance leaves. These words from Psalms 23 remind me this is




You provide delicious food for me in the presence of my enemies. You have welcomed me as your guest, blessings overflow! Psalm 23:5-6 The Living Bible

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You have anointed and refreshed my head with oil. My cup overflows. Psalm 23:5-6 The Amplified Bible

You become my delicious feast even when my enemies dare to fight. TPT Psalm 23:5-6

You prepared a meal for me in front of my enemies, You welcomed me as an honored guest. ERV Psalm 23:5-6

You are making a table of food ready for me in front of those who hate me. You have poured oil on my head. I have everything I need. NLV Psalm 23:5-6.

You prepare a banquet for me while my enemies watch. Psalm 23:5-6

Verses 5 and 6 are the answer. The key to navigating our run ins with lifes uninvited guests. They remind us :

  1. Enemies or uninvited guests are, have and will come.
  2. The banquet will go on.
  3. Our enemies will be watching.
  4. We can enjoy the feast while they are seated at the table
  5. While at the table with my enemies, I can be treated as an honored guest, my blessings will overflow and the food will be delicious.

“What can we do?”

Isn’t that the question we ask of someone navigating a particularly challenging dinner guest?

As we stood in the entry way to my home, I paused before I answered my 2 friends that had asked if they could stop by ‘real quick’. They wanted to present me with a sweet gift that reminds me every day that faith as small as a mustard seed is all that is needed to navigate the mountainous challenges that arrive in our lives stories. I’m so grateful for the tribe that God has so graciously placed in my world.

My diagnosis came as a total surprise. Even now as I type this from my view from the middle of my treatment plan I have a hard time remembering. Remembering that just 2 months ago after my yearly routine mammogram I was summoned to return for a second look with both mammogram and ultrasound leading to a request for an even closer look which comes from a needle biopsy. All these looks …. revealing…

Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.

Breast Cancer.

A Very Uninvited Guest.

And an opportunity to make a decision, to shift my gaze to the author and perfecter of my faith, to the artist of my life, the host of my dinner party.

“Beth, what can we do?”

In the moment I answered this question my future was so unknown. How would I recover from the diagnosed lumpectomy? Would my follow up include both chemotherapy and radiation? If it included both and I lost all my hair – would it grow back curly like all my friends that have attended this same, damn dinner party before me? Gosh I did not want curly hair. (No offense to my curly hair friends:) At least I would have a reason for investing in cute hats???

“Be excellent. Be the best you that you can be. Play big as a wife, as a mom, as professional, as a volunteer. Don’t shrink back. Don’t let doubt, discouragement, despair sneak into your heart, mind or soul. What the enemy wants to use to increase his territory… God promises he can use for good. Good. The last thing I would want is for the hard that is happening to me to cause others to stop showing up in the way that God wants and needs you to. Right. Now.”

This is what I said to my friends. This is what I said to my children, my husband, the team I lead. This is what I say ….

To you the reader.


What I know now, that I did not know when I was chatting with my friends in the entrance of my home is …

That my cancer is Stage 1. That my lumpectomy was a success, revealing no spread of cancer to my lymph nodes and a negative margin surrounding the large, buried tumor that was extracted from my body. That I will not need chemotherapy (no hair loss, no curly hair, no cute hat collection – well maybe I will still buy some hats). That in January ’23 I will begin 21 consecutive radiation treatments to reduce my risk of cancer return from 20% to less than 5%.

What I know now is that in the midst of this season my dinner party is not ruined. I have seen God show up in a gazillion amazing ways to show me his love, his provision, his strength, his joy. I have felt the warmth of the glow that rivals the feelings from the very best gathering surrounding the perfect collection of 16 year olds around a beautifully decorated prom table.

As I look around my world I observe so many enemies showing up to my friends and families tables. Just when I feel like I’ve completely turned my eyes off of my own uninvited guests I see them popping up at another table in another life. It is then that I stop attempting to arrange the seats around my table and theirs and trust the abundance that comes when I rest in the plans of the very best host.

I pray that your hope in 2023 rests in our God Host alone. I pray that the enemies at your table grow smaller and more insignificant as your hope, trust and real experience of your Savior grows bigger than ever before.

“Certainly, goodness and mercy will stay close to me all the days of my life, and I will remain in the Lord’s house for days without end.” Psalm 23:6

Yes and Amen.

Much love,


Enjoying my birthday with friends was an important celebration at the beginning of my cancer journey:)

Tree Climbers

“The fear of human opinion disables. Trusting God protects you from that.” Proverbs 29:25

Like a scared cat running from an enthusiastic dog…. He knew it might be his only chance.

His only opportunity. Not to get away, but to get a closer look.

He was desperate. He had heard about this life changer and his message of hope and something had started to shift deep down in his soul. Everything he believed to be true and right about his life had been turned upside down. The life of luxury and wealth he was living at the cost of others, the one that had never caused him to lose a wink of sleep – now kept him up at night. He was ready to make a change but he wanted, needed to make a direct connection with the voice behind the message that was spreading like wildfire. The words of life and truth. The words that offered grace for all his past mistakes and an invitation to live full and free. He just needed a glimpse of The One and word on the street was that he was very close by.

Except that the crowd was large in number and stature. And the man, the one with few friends due to his reputation of being a cheat and a fraud – was alone. And he was small.

Short – to be exact.

The people pushed all around him and he heard the voices announcing the Man’s arrival ….

But he just couldn’t see.

Oh how he wanted to see.

Really see.

Oh How I want to see…. really see.

An amazing thing happens when your hungry enough, curious enough, desperate enough…

Your willingness to do what you’ve never done before, or what others may look down on you for becomes a viable option.

All cares of lack of skill, education, or opinions of others fly right out the window……

And the tree you’ve walked by a million times now becomes the answer to your question….

How can I see Him? Really See Him?

Oh How I want to see…. really see.

“He wanted desperately to see Jesus but the crowd was in his way – he was a short man and couldn’t see over the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus when he came by.” Luke 19:3-4

It made perfect sense.

He was short.

The crowds were tall.

And … well, crowded

and the best way to get a clear view was to go up, get up, climb up

The nearest tree.

A sycamore tree.

“Because the branches of the sycamore-fig are strong and wide-spreading, and because it produces many lateral branches, it was an easy evergreen tree for Zaccheus to climb, and in which he could easily be hidden.”( Bible Gateway)

…… and in which he could easily be hidden.

Zaccheus, a tax collector, wanted to see Jesus but he did not necessarily want to be seen. He had so much to hide. So many layers of shame and guilt from his way of life. In the time when Jesus walked the earth, tax collectors were a hated lot. They were Jews that worked for the oppressive Roman government. They were seen as “turncoats” that used their position to take more than was required. They became wealthy off of their fellow Jews – using the extra they collected to support their lavish lifestyles. He wanted what Jesus had to offer but he guessed Jesus wouldn’t want to actually get close to him. He’d just climb the tree, snuggle in to the branches and watch Jesus share his love and message with more worthy recipients.

But Jesus wasn’t looking for the ones prettied up on the outside. The ones certain of their worth because of the clothes they wore, the good deeds they had done. The ones whose peace came from status and stature.

Jesus was looking for tree climbers.

The ones adjusting their lives to get a glimpse of him.

The ones throwing aside all care of tarnishing their reputation.

The ones with hearts open to the changes he would ask them to make.

The ones that when they felt the tug on their hearts that he was getting closer,

Climbed a tree to get a better look.

Oh how I want to be a tree climber, and see, really see.

But Goodness the crowds can feel thick.

The crowds we might call…

to do lists….

and opinions of others….

and world events out of my control…

and family members struggling…

and a business to maintain and grow…

The crowds that can distract, disappoint and discourage.

The ones that can block my view from the One who wants to guide me through it all.

The ones I need to bust through to get to the nearest tree, grab hold of its branches and hoist myself up to see the One that loves me most.

Jesus is looking for the tree climbers. He is so ready to welcome the tree climbers.

The ones tired and weary from the battle through the crowds. The ones hungry and open and ready.

“When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and said ‘Zaccheus, hurry down. Today is my day to be a guest in your home.'” Luke 19:6

And just like that, Zaccheus life is changed forever. He has been noticed. He has been called by name. He has been invited in. No judgement. No list of boxes checked.

Just a man with enough faith to climb a tree and pray for a glimpse of his Savior.

An extension of abundant grace to a man that deserved nothing.

When grace floods our lives it cant help but rush towards those around us. When we receive abundantly we can give abundantly.

“So Zaccheus hurried and came down, and welcomed Jesus with JOY. He stopped and said to the Lord , “See Lord, I am now giving half of my possessions to the poor, and If I have cheated anyone out of anything, I will give back four times as much.” Luke 19:8

Oh how I want to be like our tree climber friend Zaccheus……

Convinced that I have nothing of worth to bring to my Savior except my open, eager, repentant heart.

Willing to fight through my crowds to hear his voice welcoming me in,

reminding me I am loved,

pointing me to a better tomorrow.

Much Love, justbeth

View from the Tree Tops – Lake Ozark, MO – glorious!

What Moves You?

A man’s mind plans his way (as he journeys through life), But the Lord directs his steps and establishes them. Proverbs 16:9 AMP

The sound of an alarm?

The scent of hot coffee brewing?

The cry of a baby?

The ring of your phone?

Tickets to the big game, the once in a lifetime event?

The message that old friends are in the area and could they stop by for a quick visit?

The endorphin release that hits at the end of a good workout?

The threat of rain?

The threat of missing a flight?

The threat of plans crashing into your office building on a quiet morning in September?

What moves you?

Yesterday, our son and his girlfriend participated in the Scott Merirtt Memorial Half Marathon. It was a perfect excuse for Tom and I to head five hours north for the weekend to cheer them on. It had been three months since Jonah had moved to Iowa to begin grad school life with a new apartment, new school, new job. I had missed his infamous bear hugs and was eager for a visit. When the opportunity came for this trip.. we moved.

What moves you?

As a recreational runner I thoroughly enjoy and appreciate cheering on those that chose to push themselves in a formal race situation. The crowd is always diverse. All ages, all fitness levels, all variety of attire. Some run with friends and some run alone. Some have trained extensively and some have been moved last minute to give this running thing a try. Some are motivated to achieve their P.R. (personal record) and some are determined to simply finish the race. The group I observed before the Scott Merritt Memorial Half Marathon was similar to many I had seen before. The participants looked eager and focused. The crowd, full of family and friends and lots of dogs were friendly and encouraging. There is just something special about a crew that willingly chooses to get up at 5:30 on a Saturday morning to either challenge their bodies as runners or anxiously position themselves on what hey hope will be the best viewing locations along the route.

What moves you?

We learned from the chatty gal at the creamer the evening after the race that a Reserve Police Officer is one that is called in to work special events. They are not on the regular pay role but ready to jump in when more police staff are needed. I don’t know how Scott Merritt gave his life, but I do know he lost it in his line of duty as a Reserve Police Officer. A man moved to serve when he could, as a help to the police for of his local community. His memory is honored every year as hundreds rise early on a Saturday morning to push their bodies for time or accomplishment or the promise of chocolate mile in the event that bears his name. I had no knowledge of Scott Merritt before Sept.10,2022 but clearly his life made an impact on many.

What moves you?

I awake early this morning. Feeling rested after a good nights sleep in our cute little air bnb, the words for this blog came racing to my mind. I tip toed through the living room, brewed a cup of coffee and sat myself down in this area I’m pretty sure was created just for early morning writers like myself. As I waited for the caffeine to kick in, I glanced at the date in the upper right hand corner of my computer screen.

Sept. 11

What moves you?

22 years ago.


22 quick years ago, on this day, Americans were shocked that an evil to what we now refer to as “9/11” could happen on our soil. We had been sheltered from the realities that had always been part of other countries normals. The loss of so many lives in the attack on the Twin Towers in New York City and the Pentagon moved us all.

Moved us to pray.

Moved us to worship. ( I know your church pews were as packed as ours)

Moved us to the reality that we did not have as much control on our lives as we thought we did.

What moves you?

Minutes before the race my sons girlfriend suggested we pray. Which we did. My son then shared a verse he had read off of his bible app that morning…

“A man’s mind plans his way ( as he journeys through life), But the Lord directs his steps and establishes them.” Proverbs 16:9.

Each runner in the Scott Merritt Memorial race had a plan – to start and to finish. Some had studied the race route and some were depending on the race volunteers stationed along the path. Some through they knew the path and were surprised and thankful when someone pointed them in the right direction.

Each human having reason to enter the Twin Towers or the Pentagon on 9/11 had a plan – to start their day and to finish. Some made daily trips to these buildings and others were just visiting for the day. They thought they knew the way in and out of the buildings and were surprised and thankful when a Police officer or Fire Fighter pointed them in the right direction.

What moves you?

I don’t know if everyone finished the half marathon. We left shortly after our two gulped down their chocolate mild and the skies turned dark with rain. We fell like there were still a few runners left out on the course. Maybe injury or fatigue had slowed them down or caused them to stop. They had planned their day but it may have had a disappointing finish.

We all know that everyone that went to the Twin Towers and the Pentagon did not finish the day they way they planned. A tragic ending to what may have felt like a very normal start.

What moves you?

This past week a wise mentor reminded me that the safest place to live is in the center of God’s will. She reminded me that each day I should seek to see where God is working in the moment and join him. She reminded me that whenI seek His plans and trust the direction of my steps to Him I would life a life fulfilled. She encouraged me to listen close to the voice that promises to encourage, comfort and when needed…


We are not promised earthly success when we receive our identity as Christ followers. We are not promised that our plans will succeed. We are not promised PR’s or perfect finishes or lives free of pain and suffering. But we are promised a guide through it all. One that moves us to our starting lines, points us in the right direction on our paths and when our earthly race is complete will carry us to our heavenly home. Never leaving or forsaking. Always loving, always forgiving.

What moves you?

What moves me?

As I take my last sip of now cold coffee and head into my day, I ask myself that question? I think through my plans for worship with my kids, potluck lunch after church and a 5 hour drive home. I think of my week ahead filled with more work and travel. I think about my family and our futures. I think of my community and my volunteer responsibilities. It feels full. It feels good.

I think of all these things and I lay them at my Lord’s fee.


Guide my steps. Direct my paths. Move me,

Move me,

Move me…. to be in step with you.

Much Love,


Moved to run!


These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on a solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit – but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards. Matthew 7:24-27 The Message

“Everything O.K. over there? I see the flags on your lawn?”

A kind inquiry from my next door neighbor to which I answered,


Tom and I had so much fun transforming three rooms in our home this summer. Moving furniture, painting, hanging new curtains, purchasing a few more throw pillows (can you ever have enough throw pillows?). I absolutely love the transformation that gave me a new home office and two guest rooms ready with clean sheets, scented candles and goodie baskets for anyone that needs a place to lay their head when passing through our town. Each time I walk by one of the newly renovated rooms I give a contented sigh, just so happy with the results. The work took a couple of hundred dollars and a couple of weeks of time – a fun summer project for my teacher husband that has time to kill in the month of July.

Recently as I was leaving the upstairs guest room I decided to close the door. I never close the door – there is no need to. But I did, or at least I tried. The door which normally closed quietly without effort, stuck. I mean when the door hit the frame it required effort on my part to pull all the way shut.

Well, shoot.

It was at that moment that I looked above the door frame to a crack that had been growing across the ceiling. We had it looked at a few years ago when it was smaller and we were told everything was fine – the effects of normal settling of a home. But I was pretty sure that at this new, closer inspection that the crack was bigger and had a little tributary crack branching off of it.

In another few moments, as I allowed my brain to think through the summer months of our fun home improvements, I remembered the popping. The loud cracks we had heard several times that seemed to come from the attic. New sounds. Sounds that were brief and intermittent making them easy to dismiss when there were so many other fun things to focus on. Like new throw pillows.

Doors that are hard to close, cracks in the ceiling, loud pops in the attic. These are the factors that often point to one thing…

Foundation trouble.

We have learned that in our part of the world that our heavily clay soil does not respond well to draught. As it dries, it hardens and pulls away from the surface it is attached to. Our golf course and school soccer field are littered with large cracks in the ground. Our soccer coach told me that one year a student tripped on one of the cracks and broke his ankle. The effects are significant to say the least. As the soil as pulled away from the foundation of our home everything has shifted, everything is impacted and until we do something and do it quick, it is only going to get worse.

And buying another cute $25 throw pillow is not the answer.

Well shoot.

It feels ironic that in preparation for our foundation fix that will cost us not hundreds, but thousands of dollars , that has required numerous visits from electricians, and gas company technicians to mark our yard with flags and spray painted markers indicating buried lines, one of the messages left smack in front of our home is…

Our grass clearly shows the signs of our dry summer



Our foundation is not OK. Our Foundation Recovery Rep tells us we caught the problem early, that the price tag could be much higher. The work will be internal in a part of our basement that is unfinished so no need for outside landscaping or inside carpet to be torn up. If we would have waited the internal damage would have been much more significant, the cost doubled or even tripled. None of this is a surprise. I have several friends and neighbors that have already walked this road to which each time I have said “Whew, glad its not me.”

Have you ever done that before?

Witnessed someone else’s ‘foundation trouble’ and said, ‘glad it’s not me?’ and continued purchasing throw pillows overlooking the issues that may be happening right under your nose,

with your own foundation?

I have.

Gosh it is easy to judge and critique other peoples stuff. You know the stuff that would never happen to you, your children, your job, your marriage. The stuff talked about when meeting friends on an afternoon walk or put on the weekly bible study prayer list. The stuff that feels inconceivable and unbearable and you don’t know how anyone could live through the clean up…

Until it’s yours.

Until a season of draught reveals the truth of your foundation.

Until words you thought you’d never hear spoken about your life… are.

Health diagnosis.

Relationship changes.

Et cetera.

As I stood in my living room listening to the diagnosis of our foundation from the kind, straight shooting home technician I felt a sense of peace. It has been said that clarity is kindness. Now that we know the truth of our foundation situation we can begin the steps of solidifying and strengthening the very base that everything rests upon. It feels hard and it feels good.

As I clean out my storage area in preparation for our renovation this week my mind wanders to other places my foundation has been tested – in my personal and professional life. Have I been counting on cute throw pillow solutions to carry me through or have I spent time strengthening the one foundation that holds the promise of never letting me down? In Matthew Chapter 7 Jesus speaks clearly about the importance of building a life with his words, his truth. “These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on.” He is clear that his blueprint for life building is the one factor that will determine if a life storm will make you stronger or knock you down like a “house of cards.”

Today I ask you the questions my neighbor asked me,

“Everything O.K. over there?”

Are their cracks and pops and sticky doors in your relationships, your work, your finances, your anything that you’ve been ignoring? Consider this an invitation to pay attention and listen close. It is only when the problem is diagnosed and the truth of the situation is clear that healing and rebuilding can begin.

Jesus – Our foundation. Our Savior. Our friend. He is the master carpenter, he has everything you need to start your own home improvement project, today. The revealing of our weakness shines a light on the power of his strength. The clarity of our own fragility forces our eyes to the solid ground on which Jesus invites us to build our lives.

Trust Him.

Lean on Him.

Believe Him.

Build on Him.



Much love,


Spinach for breakfast

I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone ( just one grain, never more.) But if it dies, it produces much grain and yields a harvest. John 12:24 AMP

“Essentially, we are waiting for someone to die.”

It’s a phrase I’ve shared two times this week. For real. It is the honest to goodness truth of the reality I am currently living, I am waiting for someone to die, two someones actually. Each time I’ve shared this with my friends I’ve received the same look. Faces that hold a posture of “Huh – really?” and then when it settles in their soul – they turn to an attitude of hesitant resignation. One that agrees it is true but gosh it would be great if it wasn’t.

A tendon and an apartment.

Two pieces to the completion of two puzzles that will be made available after death.

My daughter needs a tendon from a cadaver to fix an injured knee and my parents need an empty apartment in the senior living center close to my home. Each of them, my daughter and my parents, have their name on lists. Lists they only move up when someone else..


It’s just the strangest thing.

Life coming from death.

Healing coming from pain.

Starts coming from finishes.

Yet, so it is.

It was not supposed to be this way. Humanity experiencing pain, suffering, death. It’s why it is always so hard, to say goodby. God never wanted it. He hates it.

But he uses it.

Brining good from the hard.

I’ve found that if I look close enough – I can see the lessons. The ones God uses to remind me that he is real. That he cares. That he has a perfect plan for all that believe in him – “plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

If I look close enough – I can see the beauty that comes from ashes.

It’s about this time every late summer that I give up on my flowers, the ones I was so excited to plant and nurture in the spring. Their care now feels like more work then I want to exert as I eagerly await cooler weather and the beauty of fall. The beauty that comes from the changing of leaves from green to red, orange and yellow. The beauty that comes from one thing ending and another beginning.

I see the cycle of the importance of endings and beginnings all around me.

The graduation of beloved Senior Classes of our high school each spring. The students that we’ve seen grow and mature over four years, the ones that always leave. They make room for a new class of nervous, giggly, immature freshman. One ending bringing another’s beginning.

The sun that sets each night in glorious beauty leaving darkness and a much needed pause for rest and refreshment before a new day comes again.

The flowers that die and scatter their seeds which provide hope for multiple of their kind in the next growing season.

The professional that retires from the workforce providing space for the new college gradate.

The tradesman that leaves his craft after mentoring his apprentice who can now provide for his family.

The person that loses their job and moves to follow work in a new town and leaves a home for someone who has lost their job and moves to that town to follow work.

The athlete that suffers a season ending injury opening up a spot for the overlooked player on the bench. The player that when given the chance reveals her excellence and earns the starting spot on the team.

The eggs that I crack for breakfast each morning providing protein to fuel me for the day and the spinach I chop – the leaves that started as a single seed, grew to an abundant bush of leaves and when mixed with my eggs add extra nutrition to my morning.

Starts and finishes – I see the pattern all around me.

And so do you.

This simple reality that shows up in our work place, our leisure activities, our breakfast food.

The ones that can ultimately

Point us to truth.

The truth that despite the pain we may feel when one thing ends and another begins, we have hope.

We have hope even when we face the ultimate ending, when our days or the ones of our loved ones come to a close. When the cycle is complete, the race is finished. We have hope that this one big end is entrance to the most grand and eternal beginning. Our hope for a life, when as C.S. Lewis quoting Samwise in the Lord of the Rings , says “Everything sad will become untrue.”

No sorrow, no pain, no tears. We will see purpose in the hard of our earthly life. I like to think that I’ll have understanding of the blessings that came from the little deaths of disappointment and discouragement I felt in my life on earth. Like when the seed Luke talks about in chapter 24 dies – the one single seed, that upon death creates an abundant harvest.

Our beautiful beginning that we only have because of the one traumatic ending of our Savior Jesus.

His death after living a perfect life. His ending opens up our beginning.

His lonely, heart wrenching persecution when he took all our sin and pain right to the cross and resolutely completed the hardest race anyone will ever run. His death whose effects multiply daily as we share his love and his truth and his sacrifice with those that don’t understand his story and its role in ours.

Our story – the one with starts and finishes, endings and beginnings, celebration of new life and mourning death. The story that has purpose when we remember that God will use each hard for our good and others and for his ultimate glory. When we recognize the lessons and embrace the reminders.

As I wait someone else’s finish to open up my loved ones beginnings, I hold tight.

I hold tight to the God who ordains it all, all our beginnings and all our ends. I hold tight because this cycle is hard. The waiting, the starting, the ending. I hold tight while I clean out my flower bed, I pull out my sweaters as the air grows cold and when I chop my spinach each morning for breakfast.

How good that He is with us in it all.

Hundreds of new beauties can come from the death of this one precious daisy.

A hand to hold

“Look how strong you are!”

I’m not sure when it happens – I just know it does and did for each of my three children. That moment when your infant child is able to wrap their tiny fingers around your one adult finger and you feel the smidge of strength and purpose as they recognize their ability to grip.

“Look how strong you are!”

These words instantly come out of a mother’s mouth both in affirmation of your child and awe at the miracle you are holding in your arms. Each new development you see in those first weeks is remarkable. The progress in the first year of a child’s life feels like more than any other year of a human’s existence. The newborn that comes into the world 100% dependent on their parents quickly moves from nursing or a bottle to solid food. They transition from lying helpless to crawling and walking on their own. First words may be uttered, and the desire for independence that grows with each passing year begins to peak at you in the most subtle of ways.

“Look how strong you are!”

Today marks a milestone in my mothering life. Our youngest turns 20.


The memory of her gripping my finger for the first time is clear in my mind’s eye.

Maybe because she was my last baby.

Maybe because she was my smallest baby and this landmark felt even more amazing. Her fingers – so tiny!

Maybe it is because even today, she still reaches for my hand when we are walking together or driving together or sitting near each other. I learned one of the best ways for me to communicate my belief, support and love to my strong, determined, compassionate last-born is to hold her hand.

“Look how strong you are!”

As I look back at the years my children spent in their teens I realize that the words I spoke during their first year of life, that came so freely and so enthusiastically, were the exact words they needed during this season of the teenage years that again felt like such rapid growth. The tone may have needed to drop an octave or two from the higher pitch we often use with newborns – but the sentiment is still the same. “Look how strong you are” is a message my teenagers needed when navigating a world that seemed to scream about their weaknesses when held against their peers’ apparent strengths. It was a message spoken from a “I knew you when” perspective. As a parent your memory of that first finger squeeze is held up against the strength your child demonstrates when stepping up to bat for the first time in little league, or rides the bus for the first time, or gets in the drivers seat of your car and you genuinely see their strength that comes from daily, gradual growth. The biggest lie a parent of teenagers can believe is that their voice is no longer welcome or necessary. The effect your words have may elicit different responses than the smiles and coos of a baby but the reminder that you are still in their corner full of the same belief, love and trust instill a security so desperately needed in their lives.

“Look how strong you are!”

But what about those times when they’re not.

And we’re not.

Strong, that is.

When the circumstances of life appear to have the upper hand that takes a sneaky right upper cut to the base of our jaw, or into our gut. And all strength and hope feels lost. The “look how strong you are” statement falls flat because it is…




God uses each of my children to teach me much needed life-lessons. My just-turned-20-year-old is no exception. My modus operandi is to proclaim “Look how strong you are!” even when it is not entirely accurate in an effort to take my eyes and others off the hard and onto the bright side. The reality is that as we grow older so does our ability to detect inauthentic praise. My daughter reminded me once that allowing oneself to feel the sadness that accompanies disappointment and discouragement are a necessary part of the growing process and that false encouragement is no encouragement at all. I learned that in the moments when my children feel weak and I have little to offer the most important words are not, “Look how strong you are!” but…..

“Look how strong HE is.”

He – the God who knit you together in my womb.

The God who promises to never leave or forsake you.

The God who has endless grace and mercy. Giving us more than we we ask or imagine and forgiving us more times than we deserve.

The God who sent His son into the world, leaving his divine power in heaven in order to feel the strain that humans feel when their strength is tested. The God who exhibited the greatest strength when he allowed the physical sacrifice of His son through death on a cross.

His son, our Savior who defeated death and the grave to give




to all that believe in him.

“Look how strong you are!”

Today I celebrate the end of an era. I loved the teen years. I loved the conversations with my children that made me laugh, made me think, made me sometimes want to pull my hair out. I loved the evidence of moments that showed their growth, their maturity and their trust in their Savior. I loved every moment where I was reminded of my need for wisdom and strength which lead me straight to the feet of Jesus.

Today I celebrate you, Brooke. The bookend to our children. The courageous, witty, determined, passionate 20-year-old. The human that asks the best questions, that expects excellence from herself, that is willing to stay in the hard when others may want to bail. The one that takes the time to write heartfelt birthday cards and thank you notes and is quick to ask how I am doing. Today I celebrate your God-given strengths that you use to point others to Him and I also celebrate your weaknesses that remind you that your true source of power comes from the one who gave you life for now and eternity. I take your hand, I squeeze your fingers, I feel your grip –

“Look how strong you are! Look how strong He is!”

You are loved.


Brooke – She’s 20

Kiss and Cry

And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1 b

Feb 4 – Feb 15, 1976, Innsbruck, Austria. My first memory of falling in love. Later that summer, July 17- August 1, 1976 Montreal, Quebec, Canada I fell deeper. I was just 6 years old. That most impactful year was my first introduction to the world of Olympic sport and I was captivated – my heart, my soul, my everything. Since that time I’ve never wavered for my love for all things Olympic. I watch the opening ceremony, I watch most of the competitions, I fall asleep to it and the next morning I turn on the morning news shows to watch the interviews.

For real.

I think most little girls fell in love with Dorothy Hamill- 1976 Gold medalist in women’s ice skating. We were enamored with her beauty, her elegance, her haircut. If you look back to pictures from the mid to late 70’s you will see a similar theme in hair styles called – the “wedge”. We all wanted to look just like her. I have a very clear memory of sitting in the beauty shop chair saying “I want a Dorothy Hamill hair cut.” Isn’t it funny the things that hold place cards in our filing cabinet of memories?

And Nadia, sweet Nadia, Gold Medal gymnast from Romania. She was just 14 years old and the first person to score a perfect 10 at the Olympics. Her bow tied pig tails, her shy smile, her absolute dominance in all gymnastic disciplines are memories cemented in my heart. In the winter I had been inspired to skate as much as I could on our frozen lake conveniently located at the end of our block and when I returned to school in the fall of ’76 I begged my mom to enroll me in the after school gymnastic classes held in our school gym.

Dorothy and Nadia… their influence changed my little self… for so much good.

They made me want to be better. They inspired me to want to learn new things. My heart soared when I watched them. When Dorothy skated I danced around my basement pretending I had skates on. When I did get on the ice I taught myself how to skate backwards and go into a spin – pulling my arms in tight towards my body and moving in what felt like very fast circles. When Nadia moved effortlessly over the uneven bars I ran to my backyard to hang from the bar on my swing set – attempting to fling myself to the ground without using my hands. I lived in my imagination of bigger things and fantastic dreams and……

I felt alive.

As I think back on the impact those women had on my little 6 year old self I understand why I still deeply love the Olympics. Over the last two weeks of investing hours watching or at least listening while working or cleaning or cooking, my love grew. I collected stories from both those that achieved great success and many that fell short of their goals. The olympics remind me that life does not always feel fair – this time more than ever. They remind me that humanity does not always rise up. They remind me that there are tomorrows after both victory and failure. Here are a few of the athletes stories that I will take with me when the events end and the Olympic flame is extinguished.

“I don’t wait to do tomorrow what I’m capable of doing today.” Winter Vinecki – US Olympic aerial skier from Michigan commenting on what she learned from the adversity she has faced in her young life – including loosing her dad to cancer when she was 9 years old.

“Stay out of their business – they have coaches.” Advice for parents of child athletes from Sheldon Peterson father of Tabatha and Tara Peterson – US Olympic curling team and sisters.

“Listen to your parents.” Nathan Chen, US Olympic Gold Medalist in mens figure skating when asked – What makes you so good?

“When you’re going through Hell – keep going”. Taylor Shiffrin – brother to US Olympic Women’s downhill skier – Mikaela Shiffrin when she wanted to quit skiing after her dad unexpectedly passed away.

“Do your best every day. Never give up on yourself and dreams. Surround yourself with support!” US Olympic Silver Medalist in the Super G Ryan Cochran-Siegle – Mens downhill skiing event. He returned to skiing after experiencing a broken neck.

“Three keys to success – Perseverance. Patience and Passion.” Zoi Synnott New Zeeland snow boarding Olympian. Her coach credits her with “Keeping things simple in complex situations, always trying to be better than the day before.”

“My biggest strength is that I ask for help.. now.” Jessie Diggins US cross country skiing Olympian – who over came an eating disorder so she could continue skiing.

“Let the turkeys get you down. There will always be turkeys. Or get up. Again. Again. Again. Again. Again. Again. Get up because you can. Because you like what you do when it’s not infested with the people who have so much apparent hate for you. Just get up. It’s not always easy, but it’s also not the end of the world to fail. Fail twice. Fail 5 times. At the Olympics. ( Enter me…). Why do I keep coming back? Gosh I knows it hurts more than it feels good lately. I come back because those first 9 turns today were spectacular, really heaven. That’s where I’m meant to be and I’m stubborn as S**T. So lets go for some team event training tomorrow and then the final alpine race of this olympics on Saturday.” Mikaela Shiffrin responding to critics after she failed to finish ( DNF) 3 of her events in the Olympics.

Finally – I learned that 2 X Gold medalist in freestyle skiing David Wise credits his power and strength to a strong faith in Jesus Christ. “I want people to say – Dave did it different than anyone else and he was still alarmingly successful.”

Over the last two weeks I have asked many if they are fans of the Olympics. I am simply shocked when some friends share they might watch and others that weren’t even aware that they were happening. I have taken it as personal challenge to help others fall as deeply in love with them as I have. I want everyone to share in the joy, the disappointments, the victories, the failures and the life lessons in each Olympic story that unfolds. And I ask myself, “Why?”

I think it’s because I want others to marvel at the athletes commitment to their life calling and be inspired to give that same kind of attention to their own. The determination, focus, belief, tenacity that I see modeled in Olympians are really at the same level I feel like I need in my own life, in my own little space in the world, in my calling. I’m not competing to win a gold medal but I certainly want to maximize the life I’ve been given. I’ll most likely never be asked to represent a sports drink or an athletic shoe but I have been asked to, in the verbiage of the writer of Hebrews, “to run with endurance the race God has set before me.” He proceeds this statement with this statement – “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.” Hebrews 12:1. Like the athlete that shows up to the gym, or the track or the slopes. Like the olympian that surrounds themself with coaches and trainers and experts – I want to show up. I want to listen. I want to learn. I want to get up when I fall. I want to learn from my mistakes. I want to celebrate the victories. I want to appreciate the unique ways God has created me and all those around me. I want to embrace every opportunity He has orchestrated for my good and His glory. I want to receive the promised grace and mercy on my bad days and I want to freely give it on my good.

I guess it’s ok if you’re not as much a super fan of the Olympics as I am….

I guess it’s ok if you’ve watched Netflix, or apple tv or hallmark channel or absolutely nothing the last 2 weeks…

I guess it’s ok if you don’t know who won the gold in the super G, or the mono bob, or what the Kiss and Cry station is for ice skaters or that there almost wasn’t a medal ceremony for the women’s ice skating champions…

BUT….. I desperately want you to know that you are called to bring your best, to receive the most, to embrace the worst, to get up again, to learn, to grow, to love, to live full out…..

the race you’re running.

I want you to believe that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. That all your days were recorded in His book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. Psalm 139.

I want you to understand that with God’s strength you will be able to stand firmly and tread safely on paths of testing and trouble. Psalm 18:33 AMP

I want you to remember that your Savior will renew your strength, guide you along right paths, protect and comfort in dark valleys. Psalm 23. NLT

I need to know we’re in this together. I need to know you are with me on this journey embracing the freedom of knowing our ultimate victory celebration is secure. Our eternal medal ceremony is waiting not because of what we have done or will do but because of what Jesus did on our behalf.

He is our ultimate coach.

He is our faithful guide.

He is the Champion of our souls.

The author and perfecter of our faith – the Ultimate victory.

My eyes are on Him – let the games begin.

The Hamill Hair Cut

$5 Pumpkins

“We had one that we sold for a dollar…. but now we just have the 5 and 10 dollar sizes left.”

The 8 year old salesman was explaining my options as I perused the back of the trailer filled with orange and green pumpkins … of the 5 and 10 dollar size. I chose a fat, round orange globe with a dent on one side and handed him a $20 bill. His mom let him do the math to determine my change. He thought for just a moment and smiled big when she affirmed his correct computations and then his dad handed me a 10 and a 5. I learned that later that day he would be heading to play in youth football game in our unusually warm Missouri weather. I proceeded into our local coffee shop ordered a dirty chai tea latte and an apple danish, loaded up my pumpkin and headed home.

My pumpkin now sits on my porch with my one traditional red mum I purchase yearly for my limited fall decor. My apple danish is half eaten – gosh its good. The cinnamon sugar crusted dough wrapped around warm apple filling reminds me of something my mom made years ago. My latte is cooling as I enjoy the view from my deck. The cloud cover and cool morning temps are providing a perfect setting for the beginning of a day that I’m going to work hard at keeping….. Slow.

I’m a natural early riser. Its unusual that I sleep past six, most mornings rising between 4:30-5, with no alarm. After my first cup of coffee I’m ready to roll. Living the life of an entrepreneur means if I don’t get to work – I won’t get fired but it also means I won’t make any money. Sitting around is just not an option. Until it really needs to be.

I recently heard that a vacation is not what we all need when life gets crazy and overwhelming. It was the opinion of this author that it is a readjustment to our every day life rhythms that will bring the relief we need . One week away will feel good but if the life we return to still holds unnecessary obligations, bars to high for our current life season and broken relationships left needing mending – the peace from our week on the beach or in the mountains or fill in the blank of your favorite getaway – will quickly slip away.

This last week I said No to three worthy and noble opportunities. One yes would have allowed me to use my love of writing. Another would have provided a way to encourage people I deeply love and a third would have supported our school community. And I said NO to




If I looked at my calendar I could have squeezed these activities in – there was room. There was room if I pushed myself to the very edge of the limits of my capacity. There would be no wiggle room, no extra, no margin, no space. I’ve learned living like this is draining and life sucking and actually quite dangerous. When my life is so full and I am moving so fast, I am certain I miss the lessons I need to learn and the loved ones that need me most.

I do not know how much smarter I’ve grown in my almost 51 years but I can say in many areas I have added much needed wisdom. Growing comfortable with a simple NO has been such a gift. The three no’s of my week allowed me the energy to dive in to the list of commitments I had already made. I was able to focus on the tasks in front of me that demanded my emotional and physical energy. I was able to pause for the phone calls from my college daughter looking for feedback on a choice she was making and another call from my dad who was reporting on my moms first round of radiation – her final step in her breast cancer battle. I could complete the tasks for my business, teach for my online bible study and also joyfully serve with other parents and students in our concession stand at our school football game. My week was full, and fun and busy.

And it was also free.


It was free from bitterness that has come when I have over committed in the past.

It was free from scrambled brain syndrome that occurs when I fail to leave any room to breath in my schedule.

It was free to take some moments on my Saturday to chat with and 8 year old pumpkin salesman.

To learn about his life and support his business.

To add a splash of orange color to my front porch.

To sip a double shot dirty chai tea latte.

To think of you, the reader, and pray that when you put your phone down or close your computer after reading these words…

You will pause and breath and search out your own pumpkin salesman, or coffee shop or that you wont..

and you’ll experience the joy and peace of your heartfelt, powerful ability to say..


my $5 pumpkin