Book Review: Tranquility

Book Review: Tranquility

Tranquility JournalTranquility: A Prayer and Reflection Coloring Journal immediately sparked my interest. It combines several things I’m interested in at the moment: Prayer, peace, and coloring.

As I’m watching my 14-month-old daughter and wondering when she’ll be old enough to appreciate coloring (as though I need an excuse to break out the art supplies), I’m enjoying a foray into the wonderful world of grown-up coloring.

The hard cover and thick paper stock of Tranquility are top notch quality. The designs are varied and interesting, prompting new ideas with each turn of the page. Each spread is vastly different, some requiring more coloring than others, some suggesting more writing than others. They are all beautiful and creative. The colors that are printed in the journal are rich, gentle tones. Read more

God’s World

God’s World

The sunrise over the Nansemond River on my commute this morning.

God’s World

O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
     Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
     Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour! That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!

Long have I known a glory in it all,
     But never knew I this;
     Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart,—Lord, I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me,—let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

Source: Renascence and Other Poems (Harper & Brothers, 1917)

Learn more about Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Pointing fingers

Pointing fingers

“It’s no use pointing fingers at yourself,” Husband told me recently.

It made me pause.

I’m not a finger pointer. I don’t place blame. I conscientiously work to offer grace rather than fault, to give the benefit of the doubt. To be understanding.

But there is one person I hold to a different standard. One person who doesn’t receive a “Get out of jail free” card. One person who gets chastised, berated, guilt-ridden when something goes wrong. Me.

Twice in the last week, I’ve let myself down.

The truth is, I forgot. Two things lost amidst the many other things of life. Really, in the grand scheme of life, neither are even that important. But I gave my word, a commitment, and then forgot. And I don’t normally do that.

But instead of giving myself the grace I so freely offer others, I let myself fall into thoughts of failure, frustration, even anger at myself.

I was pointing a finger at myself.

Husband is right, I need to not only give grace to others, but also to myself. I need to let myself be human. Understand that I make mistakes, I forget sometimes. And that isn’t failure, it’s humanity. I need to forgive myself for my own imperfections.

Story teller

Story teller

I never really thought of myself as a story teller. But, at its core, that’s what I do.

I tell stories.

I tell stories of pain. But also joy.

I tell stories of despair. But also hope.

I tell stories of tragedy. But also redemption.

Recently, I’ve been working on the story of a young girl sold by her mother to an 80-year-old man in exchange for food and drugs. It’s ones like these that really get to me. How do you survive that? How do you ever heal? Or build a life?

This girl, she’s 14 now. Fourteen. A child, still. And yet, nevermore.

But amazingly?

She’s healing. She’s rebuilding. She’s living.

Because we serve a God of redemption.

It astounds me, these stories that God places in my hands — these people that God rescues and redeems.

I find I am not worthy to tell the stories. And yet, it has been entrusted to me to do so. I pray God gives me the right words. Words that honor, respect, and edify.

This day

This day

There are a lot of emotions attached to this day…this first anniversary of our great loss.

Honestly, I don’t have much to say about it. We’re just trying to get through.

These words have been helping:

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine
-Hillsong United, Oceans

God’s gift

God’s gift

Sometimes life is heavy and hard. And it feels like Husband and I have had more than our fair share of that lately. The days of laughter and joy seem so far gone. But I take courage, that while Christ warned us of the trouble we would face in this world, there is hope.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33


And today, these verses that remind me that it is not only in heaven that we will find happiness, but even in the rhythm of life.

“I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.” – Ecclesiastes 3:10-13

I used these same verses in a post about rhythm in early 2012, but my focus was on other portions of the passage; somehow I managed to skip right over the part where we are told that being happy, doing good, and finding satisfaction in our work is God’s gift to us.

God’s gift.

The journey still aches

The journey still aches

This morning as I read the blog of a sweet and insightful young woman, something she said struck me with its utter truth:

“The hard work of healing and restoration has begun, but the journey still aches.”

I guess that’s how I’m feeling. Big days loom before us, hard days. The day that would have been Michael’s 28th birthday. The first anniversary of his passing. They are coming. Each day brings us closer. And I know, I know it is going to be hard. Because although healing has begun, the journey still aches.

I struggle to know how to prepare for these hard days ahead. Prepare my own heart, and prepare to support Husband as he also works through this journey.

I’m reading Max Lucado’s new book, You’ll Get Through This. While I can’t say the content is ground-breaking, it is a wonderful reminder. In one example, Lucado records the words of a man who had to call his family members to let them know that his young son had died. The way he started each conversation?

Hold on to everything you know is good and true about the nature of God.

So that is what I will do. As the days and weeks of this journey continue to ache, I will hold on to all that I know about God.

A break in the clouds

Everything in it

Everything in it

We found out last night that we will have to vacate our home in six weeks.

Six weeks to find a new place to live, pack everything up, and–hardest of all–say goodbye to our life here.

I know it’s only a home, and a rental at that, but it’s our home. The beach house, while loved, was never really ours. It never held our furniture or dishes or pictures on the walls. This house…this house has been a real home for 27 months.

Country House

Our house, the day we moved in…

I won’t lie, there were a lot of mixed emotions that came with the news, and a few tears. We’ve had a lot of good times here, and some not-so-good ones. But the memories we will take with us, those cannot be left behind.

The question then becomes, where will we move to? Where will we live? Where can we take our little family of people and pets and provide for each need?

As Husband and I tried to settle our hearts and get some sleep, we read Psalm 24:

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;

for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters.

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?

The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god.[a]

They will receive blessing from the Lord
and vindication from God their Savior.

Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, God of Jacob.[b][c]

Lift up your heads, you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.

Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle.

Lift up your heads, you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.

Who is he, this King of glory?
The Lord Almighty—
he is the King of glory.

We serve a great and awesome Lord–one who holds the whole earth in His hands. Did you see that very first verse? The part about the earth being the Lord’s, AND everything in it? Every person, every house.

He will provide.


I began writing this a few weeks ago…but it was so raw and new at the time I couldn’t bring myself to dwell on it long enough to finish writing about it. It’s still difficult and hard to understand and even painful. Because I’ve never been in this place, and I never wanted to be in this place.

My whole life I have experienced an unwavering trust in God. Complete. Without fail. Not just in His sovereignty, but in His goodness. And today, I struggle with that.

When we were at the beach house in May, Ginger took a little adventure of her own. One moment we were making breakfast, the next we were frantically searching for her. We still aren’t sure how she managed to get out, or where exactly she went.

But we know that Husband and I very nearly panicked. Amid a flurry of running around calling out her name, searching desperately for any sign of her, and splitting up and driving in opposite directions around the community, I was praying fervently.

Most of my prayers were hardly more than “Lord, let us find her” and “Lord, keep her safe”.

Ginger at First Landing State Park.

Then, somewhere in my head a doubt, a question crept in. Would God keep her safe?

Trust has taken on new meaning since we lost Michael. Deeper meaning in some ways. Harder in others. Just different in so many ways.

I hardly had the wherewithal to examine where the doubt came from in the midst of my panic. Even now, with Ginger safe at home, it confuses me. It’s not that I don’t trust God anymore, I do. I fully and completely believe that He is Lord and He is righteous and holy and perfect. And nothing will change that.

But my naivete is lost. I no longer feel like I have that unwavering, unshakable trust that God will work it all out.

At moments, it becomes painfully obvious that I know that God doesn’t always “work it out.” God doesn’t always step in to our lives in the way we want. God doesn’t always keep us safe and free from pain.

Ginger escaped again last weekend. I followed her through fields of young corn and across acres of harvested wheat. We went about three miles; I was rarely more than 20 or 30 feet behind her. And I prayed–frustrated, fear-driven prayers.

I hope, over time, I will learn to restore my trust. I hope that it becomes as strong as my faith. It will never be the same–never like it was before we lost Michael–but perhaps it can be even better, stronger, truer. Perhaps trust in spite of loss is more real, more meaningful, more effective.

I was encouraged today when I read about another woman’s struggle with trust after loss. I’m not alone in this. And it’s not a failure of faith. It’s just part of the process of grief.