In which I review Tattered and Mended: The Art of Healing the Wounded Soul

“It’s counterproductive for us to wait until we’re ready to heal. We’ll never be ready for the mending process. God invites us to heal anyway.” Tattered and Mended: The Art of Healing the Wounded Soul by Cynthia Ruchti.

I received this book as an incentive for volunteering on the publicity street team. I love adding books to my collection and this one will definitely go on my favorites book shelf.

I have a pretty high pain tolerance. At least physically. When it comes to soul wounds, I am tender as a newborn baby, shrinking away from the harsh lights and screaming out my shock at the rude awakening I’ve just received. My world, which started out as warm and inviting and comforting, gets shattered by the curve balls life throws at me. The death of a grandparent that ripped my family to shreds. Growing up with a father who maintained a cold, emotional distance to hide his own wounded soul, never realizing the shattered heart of his daughter lay bleeding in his hands. A friend whose world rapidly shrinks as his severe fears and depression destroy whatever semblance of a relationship we had.

After facing these brutal attacks on my heart and soul, I’m left feeling broken and unfixable. Wondering how God can make art out of the messes in my life.

Reading Tattered and Mended, I realized a few things. Oh, the truths are not new concepts. But Cynthia Ruchti’s words are hemmed in hope and shine new light on the age old truths. She writes in such a way that just goes against the culture of this day and age to prod us out of our numbed stupor. Sometimes I think that we, nowadays, do not realize all the pain we hide in our souls because we have been taught to shove the unpleasant, uncomfortable parts of our existence in to the darkest, deepest corner of our hearts and forget about it.

Tattered and Mended evokes a sense of poetry and a healing, soothing wave of words that breathe into that dark, deep corner and bring forth our desperate longing to be healed and restored. Heavily laden with scripture and real life examples, Cynthia Ruchti pulls on the artistic threads throughout history to show and affirm a solid truth.

God never promised a painless, butterflies and rainbows existence. We live for a few brief decades, a mere whisper of time in the grand scheme of things, but we experience SO much in those short moments. Pain is part and parcel of our experience. Hurt and wounds happen in so many ways on so many different levels. What matters is what God is doing in the midst of our breaking to not only restore, but to create something beautiful and new. It doesn’t mean we lose those scars and wounds or forget about the pain. But as she states in a chapter on tapestry restoration,

“No scar is inherently beautiful. But it can be perceived as beautiful because of what it represents.”

The beauty of restoration is not in a scar-free, wound-free existence. That would be cold, brittle, and lacking the Divine Artist’s signature. It’s when the Divine Artist takes our broken, fractured pieces and creates a new story, interwoven with the blood-red threads of His Son’s triumph on the cross.

We live in a sin-laden world. Pain and suffering and soul-deep wounding is inevitable. The stories in Tattered and Mended offer the hope only given by a God whose tender hand creates, restores, and redeems us for His glory and purpose.

My copy of Tattered and Mended is already soaked through with tears. However, they are healing tears that remind me of the gentle Artist’s healing hands.

“If mending were easy, we’d all do it. If it couldn’t be beautiful, none of us would.” ~ Cynthia Ruchti

In which Fall is a Time for Reflection

I love it.

That crisp, cool sensation as you wake up in the morning. It’s just on the edge of frosty, and the bedcovers feel SO good. You want to stay in your warm cocoon, but something about the autumn chill has you suddenly alive with energy.

My kids are back to school and the youngest babbles non-stop as he tries to figure out why his two playmates can’t spend the morning with him. I love the routine, the schedule to follow, the fact that I have to have a plan or nothing will get done. Summer throws me for a loop every year and you’d think by now I’d have figure out a better system. I’m probably one of the few people who actually enjoys the last days of summer because I know fall is coming.

It’s actually ironic. I hate filling my planner with activities and appointments. I break out in hives every time another date is filled. Once it’s written down however, I love knowing that I don’t have to question myself and figure out how to order the chaos.

So I’m moving into a new school year, a new writing season, and a lot of changes. This time next year, we will most likely have moved to a new location in the good old Midwest. The DH has a two hour round trip drive time to his new job, so eventually we will be exploring hobby farms near where he works. It’s crazy. We’ve been living in this same location for five years now. We’ve built a lot of life here, but this last six months feels like a gentle tearing away from this life and a transition to a new adventure.

I’m excited about it. I’m terrified and excited. I always get butterflies when we turn the page to a new chapter in our lives. The adrenaline kicks in and I ride the high for the first year or so. Then we settle and grow comfortable, and another adventure calls us.

For now, I’m just going to enjoy this chapter for all it’s worth.

In which I count down the minutes…

It’s my golden birthday in eleven minutes 31 seconds…30…29…28…27…26…

31 on the 31st of March.

I’m turning thirty-one. They have a bag company called Thirty-One. I’ve never really figured out why. Then again, I’m not really interested in thirty-one varieties of a bag.

Thirty-one varieties of chocolate on the other hand…or thirty-one cupcakes. If I didn’t have to worry about gaining thirty-one pounds just looking at that pile of delicious.

I had a list of all the things I wanted to do before I turned thirty-one. I’ve since expanded the list to include all the years I have left AFTER thirty-one. The original list had thirty-one items on it. That too has expanded. As has my waist.

I think my waist is 31 inches actually…or it used to be before I had kids.

So let’s see. Some of the items on my original list which will turn thirty-one on my 47th birthday:

  1. Marry a European prince
  2. Live in Australia
  3. Have fifteen children (just to say I had more than my grandmother)
  4. Get married before I turned 23 (it was originally 19, but I couldn’t find any decent guys at that age)
  5. Own my own wall to wall, ceiling to floor Beauty and the Beast style library (never mind the sheer impossibility of that animated room, but come on people…the FIREPLACE)
  6. Marry a man who was around fifteen years older than me (give or take, because I was completely into Mr. Knightly at that point in my life) Even 31 years older didn’t seem too bad.
  7. Go into acting and live in Hollywood
  8. Live in Europe for a while so I could train under operatic masters like Pavarotti or Bocelli
  9. Own a dude ranch out west (in my case, a dudette ranch) and tame the mighty Mustang
  10. Own a Lipizzaner or an Andalusian…or both
  11. Marry an Irishman
  12. Publish a book before I turn 19 (which is now changed to 40)

Those are the ones I can remember off the top of my head. I think there was something in there about being a missionary to Africa and being a multimillionaire so I would never have to worry about money again. There might have been something about being a model, but that one came off pretty quick once I realized that I didn’t want to be a plus-sized model and they’d never take me on as a stereotypical one either…31 inch waist…remember?

Most of that list was highly romanticized and extremely ridiculous in nature. Silly, now that I look back on my sixteen year old self. I was just trying to find myself without any clue as to how to start. I had a compass…sort of…

If you call, hanging on my parent’s coattails of faith and hoping that would pass muster, a compass. I talked a good talk and I viewed the world with rose-colored glasses, all the while wondering why my glasses always seemed a little more on the grey side. My depth perception on life was as bad as the multiple astigmatisms in my physical eyes. I spouted romantic ideology and scripture verses like they would somehow solve all of my doubts and questions. Proverbs 31 was my model of a REAL woman, as I knew what that even meant.

Then I wondered why my doubts and questions just seemed a whole lot bigger. For every one answer, I’d get thirty-one new questions.

I’ve made lots of “bucket” lists since then. Not thirty-one, but a few more than that original. Each time, they’d get a little more practical. I gave up the notion of fifteen kids at the first bout of morning sickness. Now I wonder why my biological clock is still ticking after three. I gave up voice lessons when I realized my parents were all about the piano and I had to pay for my own vocal training if I wanted to pursue it. I still hold out hope for a hobby farm, but the prince of my dreams is French and Scandinavian…and not really a prince. More like a knight in slightly dented armor (from too many falls off the steed I placed him on when we first met).

I wouldn’t trade my wonderful, beautiful, crazy, amazing life for all of the European princes or Australian outbacks or mature Austen men or Hollywood awards in the world. I don’t think I’ve lost my romantic sensibilities. However, I believe my own growth and development as a person has led to a broader, richer, more vibrant definition of life.

I found my own faith and no longer rely on my parent’s coattails to be my compass. It’s hard to point True North when all you can see is the back of someone. And my parents, I have to say, were rather relieved when they didn’t have to live up to expectations they could never hope to meet. It definitely made our relationship a whole lot better.

I did get married at twenty-two, but he’s only two years older and that hopefully means I get to keep him around a whole lot longer and he still turned thirty-one before I did.

My library WILL be wall to wall someday…already working on it. I have more than thirty-one books, but less than Belle had.

I’ve actually gotten involved in a ministry called Proverbs31 and finally got an idea about what the thirty-first chapter of the book of Wisdom actually meant. I still hold it up as my model. It’s just a bit more realistic a goal to strive for.

My newest list isn’t 31 items long…yet. I’m sure I will add to it and it will change and grow and shrink according to the journey my life takes. I’m excited to see how many of these new goals I can reach before another 31 years goes by. Maybe I’ll have thirty-one grand-kids by then and one of them will be just like me.

And one day, she’ll bring her list of thirty-one goals she wants to complete before she turns thirty-one. I’ll smile and give her a big hug and my waist will no longer be 31 inches or less, so she won’t be able to reach all the way around, but she’ll hug me back. And I’ll count to thirty-one.

I’ll take a deep breath…

I tell her in my grandma voice that cracks with age and no longer reaches notes Pavarotti would envy,

“You keep dreaming, beautiful girl. Every year of your life will be a new chance to strive for new goals and grow into the person God wants you to be, the person God already sees in you. While you search for meaning and try to find out who you are, don’t forget this original list. Someday, you’ll look back on it as a fond memory and you’ll take off those rose-colored glasses that are more on the grey side. You’ll open your eyes. And you’ll wonder how you missed all the color and wonder and craziness and beauty. And you’ll be glad you kept that list. Because it will show you just how far you have come and just how amazing life can be if you keep dreaming.”

Look at that…

Happy Birthday to me. I’m thirty-one.


In which reality sets in…

I never, in my wildest dreams, imagined I could be a candidate for the sin of vanity. In fact, I might be a good choice for the category, “She just doesn’t care.” Or maybe, “It’s not the outer beauty that counts” award. I was good at caring just enough to make sure I didn’t go over the imaginary line I’d set for myself. After that, I could do what I wanted and it didn’t matter what others thought of me.

I didn’t think much of me. Why should I care what anyone else though?

However, something drastically shifted in my thoughts, about six years ago. Something that changed my perspective on beauty and aging and the human body in general. I don’t want to call it a wake up call. That would imply it was a good shift. Although what created the shift was good, the thought process, I’ve found to be damaging and unhealthy, especially if I linger too long on those thoughts.

I had my first child six years ago and some odd months. With my little bundle of joy came a massive weight gain (eighty-five pounds of it), decrease in energy levels, a hormonal apocalypse that sent me into alternating degrees of depression and mania. I found gray hairs, hairs in unwanted places, wrinkles where there had been none, and my body (which wasn’t enviable to begin with) no longer resembled ANYTHING of the young college student I once was.

See, I have always struggled with my weight. Due to recent diagnoses after years of searching for answers, I now know WHY I struggle. It doesn’t make the struggle any easier though. So I still fight every stupid pound that grows on me if I even LOOK at that chocolate cupcake.

The topping on the sundae came when my husband and I started our third Daniel fast in as many years. The first two were a breeze for me. I felt healthier, I felt stronger spiritually, and I lost weight. I know weight is not the main focus of a fast, but it’s still a great thing for a woman who has been clinging to those extra pounds she never lost after her first baby.

This third time was great spiritually. But physically, I’ve felt exhausted, I’ve gained weight instead of losing it, and I’m ALWAYS hungry – craving coffee and cheese mostly.

Last night, I finally broke. I was getting ready for bed and caught a glimpse of my figure in the mirror. And I realized just how vain I’d become. No longer did I care less about myself.

Now, I care too much about what my outward appearance says.

And my outward appearance last night said, “Unlovable, ugly, overweight, wrinkly, frumpy, unwanted, undesirable, unnecessary.”

Fortunately, my husband was there to catch me as I fell. I don’t want to know where that particular dark road would have led. I’m still reeling from it this morning as I try to smile at the kids and pretend I don’t feel old and faded.

Thing is, I’m not that old. I’m thirty, still relatively healthy, with hopefully many more years ahead of me to live and enjoy. I have a beautiful family, a Good God, a great community around me. I have everything I will ever need.

So why does that woman in the mirror, looking back at me, scare me so much? Why do the wrinkles and gray hairs and aching joints send me into an emotional tailspin? Why should it matter to me so much, that I break down and cry over a few extra pounds and curves in places only I can see? I’ve cared about it before, but not enough to make me hysterical.

I’m well aware of the natural progression of things. You get older each year you’re alive. You go gray, you start to sag, you wrinkle, and sometimes you lose your mind.

When I broke down, I cried harder because I couldn’t remember if I was thirty or thirty-one. My husband did the math for me, but for some reason it didn’t help. I just cried harder.

I don’t have pat answers or a ready comfort for those of you who suffer from this issue. I’m going through it and it’s too close for me right now. I’m just trying to remind myself that these emotions and feelings will pass and my husband still finds me attractive and my God still loves me no matter what.

Those sentiments will work eventually. But for now, I’m grieving and that’s okay too.

In which humility and grace are on the menu…

Every prudent man acts with knowledge, But a fool displays folly. ~ Proverbs 13:16 NASB

I am a fool. All this time I’ve been teaching my children the value of having an “I can do this” attitude. The word “can’t” is not recognized as a valid argument. They try and if they still cannot accomplish the task, they ask for assistance.

So I wonder why, after such consistency in our training, they still use the dreaded C word. It’s like nails on a chalkboard and grates on my mama heart.

We’ve all heard the phrase,

Do what I say, not what I do.

I’m here as a first-hand witness to the fact that phrase is categorically incorrect.

My children were only following the lead of their foolish mama.

I say all the right things. But as for following my own instruction, I cannot seem to do that.

So my husband called from work to let me know that our smashed up car still had the plates attached and with the salvage company coming to get it, we would need to remove the plates. We have a new car (new to us anyway) purchased and wanted to just switch the plates to that one.

Without hesitation my first response was, “What am I supposed to do about that?”

See what I did there? I didn’t actually say I can’t do it. I just beat the bush to pieces in a more subtle way. I was still saying, “I can’t do this. You do it for me.”

After he got off the phone and we ended our conversation on less than pleasant terms, I realized the gravity of what I had done. I also realized with shame, that my children were watching the entire exchange and had heard my defeatist words. I’m positive that if I continue on the path I’m taking, my children will also learn how to be more subtle in their, “I can’ts.”

I called my husband back to apologize for my “I Can’t” attitude, and I made a genuine attempt at removing the plates. While I succeeded at one of them, I did still ask my husband if he could help me with the other one. This time, he gave a definite YES.

And yeah, my children watched that conversation too.

In which my desire is for my husband…


I’ve read that part in Genesis so many times, the page is marked and torn. You know the part.

To the woman He said,
“I will greatly multiply
Your pain in childbirth,
In pain you will bring forth children;
Yet your desire will be for your husband,
And he will rule over you.”

It’s Genesis 3:16 by the way. In case anyone else wants to rub the page thin, trying to figure it out.

I’m no Bible scholar. I have passages memorized from days long past when my parents lovingly and rightly drilled them into my rebellious brain. I get a kick out of the fact that sometimes in the middle of a Sunday sermon, I will find myself whispering the words just one step ahead of the Pastor and my husband’s eyes glow with pride.

“You are amazing, you know that? To have all that knowledge in your head and to recall it so easily.”

Which is high praise when you consider it’s coming from a man who once (and still) suffers from a traumatic brain injury. I think it a source of pride for myself as well, especially when he recognizes it. I’m not saying it’s healthy for me to be proud of my accomplishment in this area. Just that, considering the topic of this post, it’s a kind of irony.

This Christmas, I came face to face with my pride (and this verse in Genesis). I strongly desire my husband’s approval and attention. So strongly, that it colors my own actions or feelings toward him.

I finally get it. The punishment Eve faced was even more insidious and cruel than I first believed and I wanted to be angry at both men and God in the moment the revelation hit me. In the end, though I struggle with wanting to hold on to my own self-righteousness, I place the blame where it belongs. On Eve’s head. And boy, does that admission hurt.

See, I always questioned why Eve would desire the very person who had, in her greatest hour of need, failed her magnificently. Why on earth would she desire him and how could he rule over her when he couldn’t even keep her from taking the fruit of the tree?

Then it hit me. Because I was always thinking the curse actually hurt Adam more than Eve (minus the childbirth part). But I was focusing on Adam. Eve would struggle (women would struggle) for the entirety of their married life with a desire for their husband that often overwhelms their desire for and service to God. It wasn’t so much that Adam would rule over her.

It was that, his action or inaction, words or lack of words, could make or break her. This was not how God designed marriage obviously. He designed it to be a reflection, a shining example of His love for His bride and her submission to Him.  And how could that be when everything in her cried out for her earthly husband’s approval and affirmation? How could she possibly seek after God with her whole heart, when her heart could break over the simplest misstep her husband made.

If he chose passivity, she would struggle over insecurities long buried. If he chose inaction, she would question what she’d done wrong and whether he still loved her.

In the end, her focus, her desire, could very well pull her away from the one thing she needed most. Her heavenly groom’s unconditional and unwavering love.

I gave in to that this Christmas. I focused so hard on my desire for my husband, that I missed my Husband’s joy and affirmation. I focused so hard on my (his) lack, that I missed out on the overflow of His abundance.

I admitted all this to my poor husband, realizing that I’m still not over it. I’m still struggling through it, but I’m aware of my struggle now. And I  pray that I can accept and take joy in where my desire should be focused.

Because I may come to a day when my husband can’t give me the desires of my heart. Not that he won’t, but that through no fault of his own (whether through death or disability or illness–temporary or permanent) he will not be able to be what I need. So I need to stop expecting that now and focus on the joy and gratitude when he does meet a need–focus on it in the right context.

As a part of the overflow of a good and abundant God. Not through any ability or talent of my husband’s, but through the blessing of a God who longs so much to give His children–His bride–good things. Who wants our eyes on His abundance, not on our own lack.

In which the last few months reflect an unlived life…

I haven’t blogged in recent months because I haven’t really been living them. Oh I still breathe and eat and sleep and run–although I have to say the sleep thing is a work in progress. I feel like I’ve survived these months since my last post.

I just haven’t really lived them.

Ever have an out of body experience? That’s what August through December felt like. I did everything I was supposed to do and did it well enough to pass inspection. However, on closer examination, I won’t be winning any medals for seizing the day.

I get in to these ruts at times. Where I feel like I’m doing the bare minimum to live without really experiencing or growing or maturing at all. It ends up feeling like a holding pattern and in the meantime, I grow more and more restless. Until something crazy or ordinary shakes me out of the doldrums and I’m once again careening on the path of adventure.

I’m still on a quest to discover whether these “doldrums” are really all that healthy for me. I know it does nothing positive to excite my creativity and I end up seeing the worst of myself in big ways. I stagnate and grow frustrated, which in turn reinvents my patterns of laziness. I like to call it lack of motivation on my denial days. It sounds better that way.

All I know is, it’s a vicious cycle, until something comes along to break me out of it and I dance my way through the minefields with new vigor and purpose.

I think it was the Christmas cookie baking that did it this time.

So in an uncharacteristic show of “motivation,” I’m going to go beat back insomnia and hit the pillow a little early tonight. I’m back.


In Which a Walk Down Memory Lane Begins with a Phone Call

“Look dad! A big rock. I’ve never seen a big rock before.” My three year old son excitedly chattered about his amazing find on our family walk this evening. He’s dressed in daddy’s shirt and big boy undies and wearing socks with his sandals. It’s an interesting get-up, but it fits him somehow.

In the grand tradition of three year olds everywhere, he’d already forgotten about the pile of “big” rocks he’d found the day before. Those treasures are now sitting in a basket on my dryer while I wait for him to forget about them so I can replenish our gravel street. Thus repeating the cycle of a rock collecting little boy who probably picked up one from two expeditions ago.

My husband and I smile at the antics of our children. The five year old has found her own collection and is attempting to pawn them off on us so she can run on ahead without the extra burden in her hands. She’s also grinning like a mad woman when we decide we’re going to have a swinging session.

Jake and I each grab one hand and on the count of three, we send them soaring right up to the clouds. Or so they say. Then it’s a race to see who gets to steal who’s turn and we set a limit. Three turns each and then switch. We manage it for two rounds before both of us are sweating and laughing too much to continue.

The littlest little is content in his sling on my chest. He chatters and coos once in a while, but mostly vacillates between sucking his thumb while his eyes grow heavy and darting quick glances all around at the dusky landscape.

We hear the crickets chirping and a lawnmower in the distance. The breeze blows through our hair, cooling the summer evening to just the right temperature.

At some point, middle little has discovered a new treasure. “BIG dicks, mom! Look dad. I found some dicks.” For those of you wondering, that’s kidspeak for “sticks”. Get your heads out of the gutter people… :)




My mom and I chatted on the phone earlier today. We were discussing many things, but among the topics was the benefits of exercise and how much harder it is to keep in shape nowadays. I mused on the idea of our lost village mentality. When I was growing up, we had neighbors.

No, I don’t mean the people who live on our street and we see in passing on a family walk or when the neighborhood garage sales start.

I mean neighbors who knew us backwards and forwards and we knew them the same. Neighbors who had cookouts, Sunday morning brunches, and evening walks with our family. We kids would leave the house in the morning after our chores were done and we didn’t reappear until lunchtime. Mom handed us all sandwiches and water bottles and we at on the trampoline for an impromptu picnic. Snack time took place over at the neighbor’s house and somewhere in between, we managed to traverse MOST of the backyards on the entire street. There WAS that one neighbor who had a fence because they didn’t like kids.

We managed to get around it anyway.

I heard recently that we aren’t necessarily living in more dangerous times. We’ve just become more paranoid and thus, less a village and more an island unto ourselves. Each family unit, taking walks on their own, collecting rocks, and having no clue who our neighbors are. It’s sad really.

I love our neighborhood. It’s quiet, out in the country, yet close enough to town for convenience sake.

I don’t love our neighbors. Not because they are horrible people or anything, but because I don’t know them enough to love them. I miss the village.

I think this Christmas, we’re going to bake cookies for the neighbors. We may not get the village back, but I’m determined to at least love our neighbors the best that we can.

In which the darkness tries to hide the light…and fails…

It’s been a rough year so far. I’m pretty certain that’s been mentioned before in my blogs.

But hey, I’m actually getting in a blog a month now. What do you know? At some point, maybe I’ll stretch and make the three blog/month mark.

Anyway, in the midst of financial woes, medical emergencies, raising young children in the midst of cold springs, weird schedules, and insomnia, I’ve felt the darkness pulling at me.

It’s not something I’ve ever gotten a diagnosis for or experienced time in therapy to deal with the implications of this darkness. But these little demons of despair and depression and discouragement (that’s a lot of D’s) seem to creep in during times of high stress and little to no sleep. They chip away at my energy and my joy and fill my brief dream states with disturbing images and dreams that wake me in a cold sweat. I’ve been running and praying and pleading with God to keep the demons at bay, but sometimes I forget in all the running and praying and pleading, to fall.

Fall into the arms of my Savior. To stop running, stop praying and pleading.

Babies seem to get this concept of falling. As they learn to walk, they kind of toddle until they cannot keep their top-heavy bodies upright any longer and look for the nearest pair of arms into which they can tumble. Ungracefully, certainly not very well. But they trust in those arms with everything in them. When logic and reason tell them there’s no way they will be caught (sometimes those arms are halfway across the room and have to hurry close to make it in time) baby knows–believes–those arms are already there.

I do not care much for falling. I like my legs to carry me with control and poise. Stumbling looks foolish and stupid. Needing Someone’s arms to catch me when I’m perfectly capable of carrying myself through the darkness? I scoff at those arms when I should be trusting them to carry me.

I hate it when the darkness overwhelms me. I feel less than human, non-functioning. A piece of scum on the bottom of a very deep ocean. Drowning because I need light and air and freedom. And the chains are heavy, dragging at me, pulling me into the darkness with an ease that frightens me. I fight back, but often have reached a point where I just don’t want to care.

It’s easier to stay in a little comfort bubble. To let the darkness take me. I can sit in oblivion, not noticing life passing me by with all its joys and sorrows and amazing light. Oh, I go through all the motions, and probably do it well enough that no one would notice the difference unless they knew me inside and out. Even then, I’m pretty sure I’ve fooled my loved ones too.

Because the darkness is all inside me. I cover well and cling to sanity like the last lifeboat casting off a sinking ship. I go through the motions and pretend it’s all right, when in reality, I’m screaming for help inside and no one can hear me. It builds and builds until I finally explode with it.

It’s crazy. I find the darkness recedes the most after I’ve had a great worship experience. I’m not just talking music either. I’m saying worship in all of its colorful forms.

A long chat with a mother whose encouragement is often found in the form of a kick in the pants but I know she struggles with the same thing, so it doesn’t have the ring of judgment it might have had if she didn’t know what I needed most.

A good, solid run where the sweat drips down my back and into my eyes and I’m gasping for air like a land-stranded fish desperate for the ocean again. Where the pain reminds me that I’m alive and God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Making love with my husband (and I defy anyone who says that’s not the sweetest form of worship for a couple bound for eternity in the eyes of God). I will leave this one right here.

Cuddling with my littles, when all is right with the world and they haven’t filled my day with complaining and griping and, “Mommy, he got more than me,” and “Mommy, she hitted me.” When they haven’t drained me dry with their wants and needs and demands on my time and energy. When I have a little more to give and I’m glad to give it. Such precious time when we say, “I love you” and mean it with everything that we are.

When my fingers fly across the keyboard as a new burst of inspiration fills me with ideas for my manuscripts that have seen too little light and too much time in between the writings.

When a particular piece of music sends tears to my eyes. I revel in the beauty of a melody so profound, it can induce me to a blubbering mess of snot and salt water puddles.

When laughter overwhelms me for no reason I can begin to explain. I giggle at first and then fall in to those deep belly laughs that hurt so good.

What joy I experience in these flashes of light through the darkness of days spent wandering far from God and wondering why He hasn’t answered my plaintive calls. The lost little lamb, stumbling around in the dark valley when all the while the Shepherd’s fold is so very close and the only thing He asks is for me to turn around and run back into His arms.

The darkness never wins. It can’t. Because I run to a God who is so much bigger than the darkness could ever be. I never doubt His ability to overcome. He is good, all the time. All the time, He is good. It sounds cliche, but it can’t ever be, because it’s so very true.

Peter grew overwhelmed by the waves and began sinking. BEGAN being the operative word there. Because he never ended with sinking. Christ’s arms were right there, the moment Peter cried out. Peter never had a chance to drown because Christ would never let him.

And so the darkness threatens His light; but once again, it never had a chance to win.