To Take It Slow

I’m feeling so much better! But I’m so tired; the day feels slow and deliberate. I reduce every activity down so that I’m mostly resting. I read. I watch television. I take baths. I tag along with my husband at the grocery store. I grade only a few final essays. I drink lots of water. 

I wake up this morning and rejoice in a time to take it slow. God arranged it so my daughters are away at a youth retreat, and my classes ended last week. How kind! 

I think about a slower Sabbath. What a kind, gentle day this is. What a kind, gentle God. 

And I’ll watch the Robins complete their nest. 


Looking Around

I take a gentle little stroll right before a rainstorm. I noticed the lilac, the bright red azalea, the pink dogwood, the yellow and orange tulips, and the deep blue of the violets. Right before the storm, the color seems more vibrant: the grass takes on a deep lush green, and the bark of the oak trees seems a little bit more brown.

As I stroll, I find two robins’ nests nearly complete. Next week I’ll track the eggs with excitement.

I suddenly remember the past 15 years of strolling with my children, first in strollers and then with them in hand by my side. Our walks were called “rainbow hunts” because we would look for every color of the rainbow. We couldn’t come home until we found all the colors in nature. Purple was always rarest. Oh, that they were with me today! So many purple lilacs line my path.

It’s a wonderful stroll to look all the way around–behind me and within. 


The Results of Your Work

(Pain has significantly decreased! Praise God! I’m on the mend!)

All day, I consider a quote from a wise woman. She mentions that, when it comes to speaking and writing books, I simply send the work out there and “find satisfaction in God’s results.”

In other words, I still need to grow into maturity in terms of self-evaluation after speaking events or publishing books. In other words, I need to trust in the sovereignty and power of God with, not just the doing of work, but also with the results of work. In other words, I need to release impact into God’s hands.

We abide with God, trust Him for our work and in our work, and release the results to Him. Maybe my new measure of success isn’t book charts or speaking reviews, but rather how surrendered I was to leaving the results and impact up to God.






My back pain results were supposedly an enormous kidney stone as revealed by the renal ultrasound. I would need surgery! I canceled a trip to Texas.

But today, the urologist disagreed with original doctor and ordered another test. He saw possible little stones on a CT scan, but even then: still inconclusive. Cause of severe pain? Inconclusive! Cause of blood in urine? Inconclusive! More tests on Monday. Let’s see if the little stones pass. Go to the ER if you can’t manage the pain. 

Maybe God miraculously dissolved the big stone. Maybe I already passed it! Maybe something else is going on.

I do not love the word inconclusive.

What I can conclude, however, is God’s great care, the love of neighbors, far-off friends and family, and the joy and peace of God. I can conclusively report that right now, as I rest with pain medication and a heating pad, that the Robin is building her nest in the Weeping Cherry right in my line of vision from this bed. Can you believe this treat?

Oh, the tender mercies of God! Had I been anywhere but here, I would have missed this.


Pain is Great, But He is Greater

I’m at the doctor’s office because of severe back pain. I have so much trouble finding meaning, beauty, and purpose in physical pain. It’s just . . . Painful

I’m terrible at living well with pain. 

As I wait for a doctor, I keep thinking that, while pain is great, God is greater still. He is greater than my understanding. I trust in His loving care. 


5 Tips for the Overwhelmed

The number one word I hear from students during this last week of class before finals is this: overwhelmed

I’ve been there! I am there! Here’s what I’ve learned after 25 years of completing large, overwhelming tasks like writing a dissertation and many books. I was a student for over 20 years. I know what you’re feeling!

Try these tips: 

1. Break each task into smaller parts, and make a checklist of small things to accomplish. For a paper due, for example, write the outline, finish paragraph one, etc. I woke up early today, overwhelmed with work, and I made a simple list to help my mind stay organized. 

2. Write down every concern in a prayer journal and describe what makes you most fearful about failure or not doing your best. Then what? We’ll still love you. You’re still wonderful. God is still in control. I’m doing this right now! Sometimes the overwhelming feeling is about fear of something else. 

3. Prioritize what matters most, and save that task for your most alert hours. Do easier work when you’re most tired or least motivated. I’m planning on correspondence tasks later today when I’m more tired; this task takes less mental energy. 

4. Remember your goals and why you’re doing what you’re doing. Remember the joy and privilege of work! Remember the blessing of it! Rejoice in the work ahead! I’m thanking God right now for teaching, grading, and parenting tasks. 

5. Return to the simplicity of the Spirit-filled life. Read Philippians 2:13: “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” I also love Isaiah 26:12: “Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.” I ask God to empower me this day right now! 

So for an overwhelming day, move through the hours with some structure (lists), some self-reflection (prayer journal), some prioritization (hard work when you’re fresh and energized), some reiteration of your goals and joy of working (gratitude), and dependence on God (Spirit-filled life). 

Have a wonderful day! I’m praying for the overwhelmed today. 


Turn on All the Lights

To prepare for the Warm Welcome as my daughters arrive home from school, I rush around the house, waking it up with lights, candles, a snack, and music. But mostly, it’s the lighting. Turning on the lights creates that feeling of a grand entrance into some new space of joy and cheer.

As I’m turning on the lights–the lamp on the piano, the one behind the chair in the corner, the overhead one, the kitchen, and the little side table lamp–I realize that there’s something about turning on the lights. Shadows scatter. Hidden things come out of hiding. Now, we can welcome what needs to come inside.

I think about welcoming the Holy Spirit into every part of my life, of turning on every light in every dark corner. I think about what I do that welcomes God, and I prepare my heart like I prepare the home each new afternoon.

PS: For those of you counting, I know I didn’t post Live with Flair yesterday! I actually forgot for the first time since March 2010. Besides that one day in Kansas when I couldn’t post about the wind turbines, I now have two days (at least two days; I’m not sure!) I haven’t posted: that one day in Kansas and the Sunday I just forgot.

What was I thinking? The whole day, I couldn’t wait to begin reading Tozer’s The Crucified Life. That’s what I thinking and perhaps what I might have written about. I was also thinking about how much I love being a student and my upcoming courses I’m taking this summer for part of my staff training with Cru. I was thinking about friends undergoing trials, about whether I had enough in the refrigerator for school lunches all week, and about an upcoming trip. So that’s what I would have offered up at Live with Flair!


Almost, But Not Yet

I walk back to where I know the vernal pond appears each spring. I carefully peel back the thorns and prickly growth from my pants. The forest feels so wild and overgrown today, like autumn and winter offered no discipline, and the wilderness grew unrestrained.

I see it.

How does it come? How does it know to appear?

The salamanders, frogs, ducks, and what I’m hoping are turtles return and lay eggs. In just a week or so, you’ll look into this pond, teeming with new life in the form of croaking frogs and more slithering salamanders than you could ever count, and you’ll stare in wonder at what was once not here at all.

I love vernal ponds!

I peer into the water. Everything’s in place, but no living thing has yet come. Soon! For now, it’s so quiet, so still and reflective, and so peaceful. I balance on a fallen log high above the thorns and prickles and recall a girlhood by water. I keep thinking I’m way too old for this. I put one foot in front of the other on the log.

I do not fall.

Instead, I know I’ll be back to see what inevitably comes in this season of wonder, rebirth, and joy.



Within Four Limits

I teach so many Penn State students who intend to devote their lives to the healthcare field. I read their papers. I ask all about new research. I listen to their wisdom.

The teacher becomes the student of the students.

They all report the same four things about what we know works best for physical human thriving. It’s not a mystery. It’s not some obscure, difficult thing. Over all the years of research and all the varying kinds of fad diets and breaking news about health, these four essentials remain unchanged about what our bodies require.

  1. The right amounts of sleep.
  2. The right amounts of calories.
  3. The right amounts of water.
  4. The right amounts of movement.

I think about keeping these four boundaries around us, like a beautiful perimeter inside which our physical health thrives. My students challenge me to consider abundance within limits, like Living with Flair has always attempted. I think about planning for better, more consistent sleep. I think about awareness of food and planning better to stay within a good calorie range. I think about how to hydrate instead of drinking massive amounts of coffee. And I return to the daily walk.