Finding Beauty in the Being (New Post at The Glorious Table)

Christmas. Just the word evokes images of experiences, both unique to our hearts and common to those around us. Trimming trees, baking, shopping, and decorating fill the lists of activities we engage in to make Christmas “feel like Christmas.” The phrase “It just isn’t Christmas without __________ (fill in the blank)” sets us all up for disappointment on those days when real life finds its way into our celebrations.

Read the rest here at The Glorious Table.


Everything Has a Season

The last leaves are still holding on for dear life. They refuse to see the change of the seasons for what it is. Their refusal to let go does not stop fall or the biting cold air from coming.

It still comes.

The frost will still lay down in the sheets of white to mimic what is to come.

The leaf still clings to the dormant tree though no life is flowing through its branches. Food can’t flow to the veins so to sustain life.

Still, it holds on.

How often do we allow ourselves to remain attached to a seemingly dead tree, long after food has stopped flowing from its branches. Fearing the death of the tree we remain in a place we aren’t meant to be.

The tree isn’t dying.

The tree is adjusting to the changing season. The leaves must let go. When the seasons change we must let go to allow for a time of resting.

The Cross of Christ speaks of a “dying off”  so a new season and a new life can emerge.

This season is full of changes for our family. A bitter wind is blowing as we find those things that require letting go. We must loosen our grip to move into the next season with grace and peace as our strength.

I’m leaning on a verse we have quoted through the hardest times of our lives. It’s been our “moving forward” verse. For now it will be our letting go words too.

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

18 “Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”


In the Midst of the Storm

A rainbow followed me this morning.

There wasn’t even a hint of rain in my path as my glance fell across the mountains. I took in the promise painted with gentle strokes across the cloud spattered sky.

It was a quiet proclamation.

I AM here in the questions.
I AM here in the midst of your pain.
I AM here amidst the chaos.
I AM in the redemption of these very dark days.
I AM keeping you from being destroyed.

There is no explanation for the peace I’m walking in on this day. Maybe that’s the beauty of peace, it doesn’t have to be understood, just experienced.

The list of turns my life has taken in the past 40 days is mind boggling. Each change – heavy in its own right – has taken a toll. Even then, the Holy Spirit whispers a calmness into my soul.

Gale force winds beat against our frail emotions in the midst of our storms. It’s easy to become frail and weary. Like a tree, our root system is forced to strengthen as we dig deeper into the source. I am reminded that the dirt is not only a foundation to hold me steady but water is bound there too.

Just like Noah, not every change is unwelcome. In the midst of the storm that tore down and destroyed so much, he was kept safe in the tossing.

When the ark finally landed on the mountain, the family stepped into new beginnings with a promise.

The dove, a symbol of the Holy Spirit, brought a symbol of peace. An olive branch, proof of life after the devastating storms.

Today the rainbow isn’t only a promise, it’s the hope that newness of life is already rooted in the freshly turned soil. The snippet of green growth lies just beneath the surface of the flood waters.

Soon I will step out into receding waters to taste the fruit seeded in the promise. Until then, I’ll rest in knowing that I am cared for and safe and comforted in the midst of the storm.


Finding Strength to Heal a Broken Community

A year ago, on this very morning, my husband Russ and us I held each other as the sun came up over the surrounding hills. Our serene valley turned beautiful shades of orange as the light hit the autumn trees.

We were basking in the glow of the night before. We had renewed our vows in front of family and friends, promising to love each other well.

This morning, we held each other again. As the sun began to show it’s light we prayed for strength to find hope. We vowed to love our community well.

Both mornings we were tired. The first was an overflowing and peaceful tired. This morning was the exhaustion from feeling poured out.

We have relief workers coming in tomorrow to help our community navigate the hairpin turns of this scary winding road. A path that is is dark and unknown.

These are the folks I trained with to become a Disaster Relief Responder myself.

We have both grieved and walked others through grief. What makes this unique is the sense that no one here is truly objective. No one is untouched and no one will come out unscathed. We are all aching and even the strongest among us are so very weak.

We can only hold each other.

We are lighting candles because Roseburg is our home. We are feeding each other because that’s what you do at times like this.

Still, I’m just not hungry…I feel sick.

Scripture tells us that we are to “weep with those who weep” and all of us are taking turns weeping.

This is the first Sunday since our the first news of our tragedy and we will gather with our faith community to comfort and grieve together.

We gather. That’s the important thing. We come together in the same space to breathe the same space and wipe eachother’s tears.

When dealing with her mother’s cancer, Jen Hatmaker said that she went to her office to quietly ask God if He was still good. The answer was yes. He is still good.

Evil is still evil. Darkness is still so very dark. The only thing to get rid of darkness is light.

A reporter asked me on Friday if I can forgive the shooter. I replied “I have to.” When he asked why I told him that I can’t hold that place in my heart for darkness.

We can get angry, yes. We should be very angry. However, if we allow ourselves to hold the anger until it turns bitter, we give up a place in our soul and it does nothing to punish the evil.

Forgiveness doesn’t release a person of their responsibility. It only releases us from our own soul from the bitter prison in which we hold the key. It also takes strength to hold onto the anger and my strength is needed to love and comfort because loving through the pain is hard.

This morning we will release tears.

On this day we will seek peace.

In these moments we will find a way to the next moment.

For me it will be standing in the midst of my church family as we raise our hands and cry out to the God of mercy and grace because right now we need both.


Dear World, From Roseburg

Dear World,

Before yesterday most of you had never heard of the City of Roseburg. Now when you hear that name you will link us to the tragedy that happened on our small community college campus yesterday.

That is not who we are.

We are a logging community tucked into a beautiful valley with some of the most beautiful tree covered hills you’ve ever seen.

The waters of the Umpqua river flow through our town and Umpqua Community College sits above its banks.

The same interstate that brought reporters and government officials is the same road that’s welcomed back our own Charlie Company from more than one tour protecting our nation.

Our children bring their livestock to show at the county fair on the same fairgrounds that welcomed busloads of students to frantic families anxious to see them step off the bus. Local pastors, relief workers and counselors were waiting too.

The Thursday night sky filled with candlelight in the park where music fills the air every summer on a blanket covered hill.

In July our streets fill with classic cars as families line the sidewalks of downtown, waiting for a history to roll by. The same streets rocked by an explosion more than 50 years ago.

On Veterans Day, those same streets welcome war heroes, marching bands and flag waving children, sometimes in pouring rain.

Photographs of the injured being rolled into the hospital doesn’t tell the whole story either.

Most of our babies have been born at Mercy and lives are saved there everyday, not just the tragic ones.

Umpqua Community College is the place where too many will remember for the wrong reasons. You won’t speak of the thousands of graduates who’ve learned to be nurses, dental assistants and anything that would put them back to work in our once thriving timber economy.

We’ll still show up at Jacoby Auditorium as it fills with local actors and musicians throughout the year.

In July, the track on campus fills with walkers as we join the Relay for Life.

There is so much more to remember about us than the day this tragedy tore into our lives and changed our community forever.

Today you will hear names and get to know a small bit of who we lost.

We will hear the names and feel the loss.

After the media is gone, we will still be here. We will return to celebrating in our streets, dancing in our parks and holding each other up when they are too weak to stand.

As the story continues to unfold and details emerge and you speak the name of our city please remember this, our city and college is not the name of a tragedy.

We are not here to provide an argument for your agenda or to be on a horrible list somewhere.

We are here because Roseburg is our home and that is the on thing about us that can’t be changed.

This post originally appeared at