Believing in Beauty

How critical are you of your reflection in the mirror? Do you look at photographs and judge yourself as harshly as I do?  The reality is that I’ve been my own harshest critic for years, at least 45 of them!  Lately, with the instantaneous feedback of digital photography, I’ve become even worse. I’m sure Brian is tired of having to show me a photo he’s just taken, delete it and retake it until I am satisfied.

Sound familiar?

In March, as many of you know, we competed in our first ballroom competition.  When I look at the photographs, I don’t see a beautiful woman, I see rolls of extra skin left over from weight loss surgery.  My pant size says I’ve changed, but I still see myself with the same fat stomach.  However, when I show these pictures to others, that isn’t what they say they see.  Who is right?

The voice in my head says they are just being kind.  My husband, however, says I look beautiful,  but I am quick to quash that opinion as soon as he finishes speaking.

I know I am not alone in this.

If this is a struggle for you too, I hope you will join me in reading The Allure of Hope: God’s Pursuit of a Woman’s Heartby Jan Meyers. Here’s a great quote from the back cover:

We either respond to hope with our hearts or we try to push it down. Responding to hope brings a deepened sense of thirst and ache, but it reminds us what it truly means to be a woman.

Will you join me?

adventure, faith, kingdom living, leadership, sacred romance

What Size is Your Story?

I love movies.  It’s one of my favorite things to do with my family on the weekend.  Many of my children do as well, and since the youngest is heading into his tween years, we’ve been slowly introducing him to some of the great movies we’ve seen over the years.  Last night it was The Matrix.  He loved it.  I loved it for the fourth or fifth time.

We actually watched two movies yesterday, my youngest son and I.  He wanted to see Thor: Ragnarok again. That movie makes me smile because Thor seems much more human in it.

This morning on my facebook timeline, I noticed that someone posted a beautiful sunset/sunrise and then referenced yet another of my favorite movies, The Last of the Mohicans.

I love movies for the same reason I loved books as a child.  I wanted a world bigger than my own. A world that’s not so mundane, where everything is hanging in the balance, and where there is epic love and epic friendship and epic battles.

In our couple’s group tonight, we’re discussing Chapter 4 of The Sacred Romance by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge.  This chapter is called A Story Big Enough to Live In.  Like my son and me, these two authors love movies.  The authors contend that “if we’re going to find the answer to the riddle of the earth — and of our own existence — we’ll find it in story.” (p. 40) They go on to say that we “create our own storylines to bring some meaning to our experiences,” but they claim that we lose ourselves in the smallest kinds of stories.  You’ll have to pick up the book for more (I promise it’s worth the read).

I am 100% sure that my youngest son would say that his storyline involves some superhuman abilities and epic battles to save the world.

I know I created my own storyline as well as a child, also with superhuman abilities and epic battles.  Unfortunately, my story began to shrink throughout my life.  But I am dreaming again of my childhood storyline and smiling, and as I do, I find it’s getting bigger and bigger.

How about you?  What size is your storyline? Is it epic, or the smallest kind?


adventure, faith, kingdom living


So today is a big transition day for me.  I’m stepping out of a role that I’ve filled since the first part of July for one client and out of the business entirely of being a virtual assistant.  I’ve enjoyed filling this role and being in this business, but the reality is that it was a place to hide out and be comfortable.

In my last post, I mentioned that I was hiding from a call of God on my life.  I’ve taken a few steps out of my hideout in the last few weeks, but today is a big step. It’s a weird feeling.

Several years ago, I read a fascinating book by Erwin McManus called The Barbarian Way. That book had a huge impact on my faith journey at the time.  So much so that I adopted several word pictures from it to describe my journey.  I even wrote about one of them here.  McManus explains how a group of rhinoceroses should be a picture of the church, although I have appropriated it for me. Here’s what he says,

But my favorite of all is the group designation for rhinos.  You see, rhinos can run at thirty miles an hour, which is pretty fast when you consider how much weight they’re pulling… Just one problem with this phenomenon.  Rhinos can see only thirty feet in front of them.  Can you image something that large moving in concert as a group, plowing ahead at thirty miles an hour with no idea what’s at thirty-one feet?  You would think that they would be far too timid to pick up full steam, that their inability to see far enough ahead would paralyze them to immobility.  But with that horn pointing the way, rhinos run forward full steam ahead without apprehension, which leads us to their name.  Rhinos moving together at full speed are known as a crash.

I’d put aside my rhino mentality for at least two years, but I’m picking it back up.  I’m no longer willing to hide out, but rather I’m picking up steam and moving forward without apprehension.

Join me and let’s become a crash.

faith, Uncategorized, writing

Jonah and me

It’s been a while since my last blog post.  Primarily because I’ve been hiding out.  I’m not generally thought of as being shy or timid, but the last few years, I have been an ardent avoider.  Not in all areas of my life, just one in particular.  This one.

If you scroll below this post, you’ll see that the last post here was in 2015.  Hard to believe that I haven’t written anything here in 2 1/2 years.

You might well ask why.

I didn’t realize until recently that I was having a Jonah moment.

Jonah, according to scripture, was also an avoider. He was given a specific task to go to a specific group of people to tell them to repent of their sin.  This group of people, the Nineveh-ites, some 120,000 strong, were a vile society and God had called Jonah to call them to repentance.  Jonah, instead, goes in exactly the opposite direction.  He’s trying to avoid the difficult task.

Four years ago, I began working on an idea. I set up a separate blog and a facebook page and worked at it here and there.  Two years later, after a move, I resurrected said idea and developed it into a presentation which I gave at our current church in January 2016.  I had several people tell me at that time that I was a gifted speaker and that I should turn it into a book and maybe start looking at giving that presentation elsewhere.  These were people who I respected, who knew of my spiritual gifts and were encouraging me to seek God’s leading in this area.

Instead, I decided to hide.

I stopped writing altogether and focused on easier things.  I was still using some of my gifts and abilities but I was really hiding out.  In January of last year, I even took on a new job.  This new job totally fit my skills and abilities, but it was really just another place to hide out.

Well, I’m not hiding any longer, thanks to a mission trip and the devotions during that time which God used to call me out of hiding and point out that I was acting like Jonah.

Expect to see more from me here.




The difference between refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants…

It’s a very important distinction which affects every part of the process of entering the U.S and it’s critical for you to know if you expect to have an informed opinion on the matter. I’m only going to discuss the US process here as my illiteracy in most foreign languages makes researching their processes more difficult. We’ll start with immigrants, then asylum seekers and last refugees.

Global migration patterns have become increasingly complex in modern times, involving not just refugees, but also millions of economic migrants. But refugees and migrants, even if they often travel in the same way, are fundamentally different, and for that reason are treated very differently under modern international law. ( underlining added for emphasis

Immigrants/Migrants (referred to as Lawful Permanent Residents by USCIS/DHS)

According to the Immigration and Nationality Act, the definition of an immigrant is “any alien in the United States, except one legally admitted under specific nonimmigrant categories (INA section 101(a)(15))“. The non-legal definition of an immigrant is “a person who migrates to another country, usually for permanent residence.” (

For practical purposes, in this discussion, it would be someone who wants to come to America to study, to work, to live here permanently.  Within this broad definition, there are also asylum-seekers and refugees.  The difference is why they want to come to the U.S.

Economic migrants are choosing to leave their country of origin in order to seek out better economic conditions, etc.


According to the UN High Commission on Refugees, an asylum-seeker  is someone who says he or she is a refugee, but whose claim has not yet been definitively evaluated.  Bear in mind that the only world organization who has the authority to confer refugee status is UNHCR.

An asylum-seeker has left their country of origin in fear of their government or fleeing war and could also fit the following definition of a refugee but has not yet had refugee status conferred on them. Asylum-seekers may or may not be living in refugee camps (think Soviet defections on US soil we’ve all seen in movies), and may or may not be traveling with their families.


According to the 1951 Refugee Convention, a refugee is someone who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.” (

In 2013, (unfortunately the latest year for which I can find compiled statistical data) the number of lawful permanent residents (aka immigrants/migrants) admitted to the US, was 990,553. In contrast, the number of refugees admitted to the US that same year was only 69,909.


adventure, faith, kingdom living, leadership

New Role

In the last few weeks, I have begun serving my community through our church, Christ Community Church, in a new way. Our church has had a relationship with World Relief for several years, but had no one to take up the role of being the point person. This new role will have me developing a cadre of volunteers who are willing to welcome new refugees into our area. It is a role which fits the call of Jesus on my life which is to embody Micah 6:8.

He has shown you, O man, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly[a] with your God. Micah 6:8 NIV84

Our goal (mine and that of Christ Community Church’s Community Impact team and the beginnings of our team of volunteers) is to build relationships with refugees in the hopes that one day we will be able to share Jesus Christ with them and see them begin a personal relationship with him.

I have been super excited about this new role and have studied all that it entails. I’m daily reading and educating myself on who is a refugee, the process for identifying them and approving them for resettlement and what happens when they arrive on our soil. I’m reading leadership books and spending a lot of time planning. I am a researcher, it’s a passion of mine. I like to really understand things and dig deep. And I have done so on this issue and especially on this community partner, World Relief.

I’m excited to share with you what I have learned. Look for new blog posts over the next few days. I’m dividing the posts as it is a lot of information to digest. I will be linking to factual data, so please follow the links. I hope you will read all of them.  Feel free to share them with others who are wondering about refugees, particularly those who fear an influx of Syrian Refugees.

It is my humble prayer that God will use these posts to bring about a change of hearts and minds.


Musings about serious stuff…

Hey reader,

Glad you’re still with me.

We are not likely to forget the stirring images we are seeing of the humanitarian crisis taking place in Greece, Hungary and Turkey involving people fleeing from Syria anytime soon. Like many people, I was stirred to action and went looking to help in a place where I could truly help. I found such a place in World Relief.  I had never heard of them and would probably have never heard of them if it hadn’t been for Ann Voskamp’s post urging action. She, along with The Justice Conference and World Relief launched a movement called #wewelcomerefugees.  You can find their website here.

So my first training as a World Relief volunteer was last night.  I learned so much that I had to share it.  The first thing that I learned was that the only entity with the authority to confer “refugee” status on a person is the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.  It’s their responsibility to stabilize and safeguard refugees and to mediate on their behalf.  They have 3 options for refugees – voluntary repatriation to their country of origin, local integration into the country where they are currently located or resettlement into a third country. No one is called a refugee until UNHCR says they are.  So you may have heard the Syrians fleeing their country called “refugees” or “migrants”. Migrant is the correct terminology until they have been conferred refugee status by UNHCR. The UNHCR is working in the camps to register migrants and determine whether they meet “refugee” status. You can imagine the nightmare this is.

The second thing I learned was the size of the problem and this astounded me. Here’s some data for you which pre-dates the current mass Syrian migration…

  • 10-12 million identified refugees
  • 30-40 million potential
  • Of the 10-12 million, approximately 1% get resettled in a third country
  • Only 22 countries take refugees to be resettled: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Uruquay and the US.
  • Average wait in a camp situation: 15 years (average!!)
  • Average wait to be resettled: 5 years
  • Refugees have to apply and countries have restrictions on who they will accept.
  • The US takes the majority of the 1% who are resettled. This year it was capped at 70,000. In 2016, the US will take 80,000.

This is a huge problem and we as Christians should be responding… but what’s the best way to help? There are three big things any of us can do.

  1. Pray!
  2. Donate to an agency providing food and services to people in the camps
  3. Donate to an agency who resettles refugees in the US

I encourage you to check out agencies through or before donating, find one that is reputable and give, please give.

36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:36-40


Did You Know #2….

In Did You Know #1, I shared that all slavery was not abolished by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.  In fact, it was not fully abolished until 1942 when it was ended by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Convict leasing was practiced primarily in the South and peaked in 1880, but was still being practiced in various forms until it was formally abolished. In this system, persons convicted of a crime were leased to landowners or private companies to work in plantations, mines on railroads, for logging etc.  Even a conviction for vagrancy would land you into the convict leasing system. As stated in Did You Know #1,a white person could ask a black man walking on the street if he had a money in his pocket. If the answer was no, they would report him for vagrancy and the white person would be paid a fee for finding an able-bodied man for the convict leasing system. The system of paying these fees encouraged further abuses.  If a white man asked if you had money in your pocket and you did, he would take your money and then ask the question again.  This time, you had none and were reported by that man for vagrancy.

Want to know more about the Not-Slavery Slavery that existed between the civil war and 1942?  Check out the following resources (book titles are linked to

Next up, the system of Peonage…


Did You Know #1…

Did you know that the 13th amendment to the constitution did not abolish all slavery?  I didn’t.  In fact when I googled, “When did the 13th amendment pass?”  This is what I got.

  1. December 6, 1865
  2. Passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified on December 6, 1865, the 13th amendment abolished slavery in the United States. The 13th amendment, which formally abolished slavery in the United States, passed the Senate on April 8, 1864, and the House on January 31, 1865.

Note that the entire text of the amendment is linked but not stated, which leads us to believe that all slavery was abolished.  It was not.  Here is the text of the 13th amendment as passed and ratified.

Amendment XIII

Section 1.

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

After the passage of this amendment, it was a common occurrence in the south for an able-bodied black man to be arrested and convicted of vagrancy for simply having no money in his pockets.

Black men who were unemployed for even a short time were at high risk for being channeled into the prison slavery system. The practice was called convict leasing and it served as an important part of the Not Slavery-Slavery system of that time.  The convict leasing system had risen up to fill the need for cheap labor after most slavery was outlawed and the threat of the “lease was a powerful source of intimidation”… Convict leasing was also referred to as “the chain gang”. – The Wheat Money by Kristi Tyler

Whites were paid a fee for identifying a black person as a good worker for the convict leasing system.

Did you know about the full text of the 13th amendment?


This one life matters, what will you do with it?

“Look, you have this one life. If you keep being selfish and unkind, it’s going to come back to you. Ask yourself why you’re scared, why you hate.” – Clemantine Wamariya

Sometime in 2013, I joined a Facebook group called Transracial Adoption. It’s purpose is to bring together all parts of the adoption triad (Adoptees, Birth Mothers and Adoptive Parents) to tell the truth about how it is to be an adoptee of a different race than your parents.  I have learned so very much and my perspective has been molded so much by this group. It’s made me a better parent to my boys… not perfect by any means, but better.

Regularly there are posts of articles to this group from varying different perspectives. Listening to these perspectives has been on of the things that also helped me change my perspective on life, parenting and my faith (see Why I did a 180).

Today, there was an interesting link to a blog post written by a woman who survived Rwanda, Clementine Wamariya. She was a refugee in Africa for years, and then moved to the US. She is a public speaker, blogger and a great storyteller. I am sure she is many more things as well. I read the entire post and in the last paragraph was the truth nugget I posted at the top of this post.

If you keep being selfish and unkind, it’s going to come back to you. Ask yourself why you’re scared, why you hate? Volumes could be written in our collective journals answering these questions if only we would ask them of ourselves. But we, Americans, alas, are not so self-reflecting.

This is the question I will unpack for a few days.

What are you reflecting on?