The Choice

Welcome Jonah Lange – guest at our fire. Jonah is in his first year of Grad School at the University of Northeren Iowa studying School Counseling, and avid game player with a keen ability to discover and welcome those that are often overlooked. Welcome to the fire Jonah – we’re so glad you are here.

We’d all been invited, but no one seemed to know why. It was me and maybe half a dozen or so other young people, probably most were in high school. I hadn’t talked to anyone yet and wasn’t sure if I wanted to. For one, I still didn’t know why I’d been invited. For two, I was still getting a feel for the party. Many of them seemed to already know each other as they were already talking. The one person who wasn’t in a group talking was jumping around the rooms flailing her arms about. I’d stay quiet for now.

Suddenly, some lights came on that nobody realized were there. They revealed signs that pointed to rooms in the house. They were all labeled with what things there were to do in the rooms to which they pointed. There was a room for movies, games, food, and more. People naturally split off into the room that interested them. Most, including me, went to get food, but a few went to games.

The food was quite nice. Most of what was there were appetizer-type foods, but it was all very good. After getting our food, we all followed a sign to a dining room and sat around the table. I happened to sit between one of the guys and the flailing arms girl, who’d since calmed down. Not knowing who else to talk to, I decided to try and make conversation.

“How’s the food?” I asked.

She seemed shocked for a second, but quickly recovered and said, “I like it.”

Trying to ignore the oddity of her shock, I responded with, “So what’s your name?”

There was a briefer moment of shock, followed by, “Anna”

“Nice to meet you. I’m Curtis.”

She nodded her head and went back to her food. Since she seemed preoccupied with it, I decided to do the same. Though before this conversation I’d merely found her odd, I also now found myself curious. The shock she’d had when I spoke to her was unusual. I didn’t know what to make of it.

Anyway, after I finished my food, I went to the game room. The room was filled with an assortment of board games, card games, and even video games. As the video game areas had already been claimed, I grabbed a board game and asked if anyone wanted to play. A few takers later, we had a game going. I got to know some of the people with whom I played. It turns out that most of them went to a high school a couple of hours from mine that was too rich for my parents’ money. They told me about what their school was like and what they were all involved in. It was cool getting to hear about their experiences that were so unlike mine. When they asked me what my school was like, I described the typical high school with small lockers and below-average cafeteria food. Needless to say, no one was looking to transfer.

Eventually, I led the conversation to inquire about Anna.  A couple of them actually knew who she was. Anna didn’t go to the same school as them but lived in the same area. They’d seen her at local community events and such. When I asked if they’d ever talked to her before, they laughed. I was initially confused by their laughter until one of them explained that Anna had some sort of disability that often made communication hard for her. Basically, they couldn’t talk to her even if they wanted to (and it didn’t seem to me like they did).

We finished the game, and they went to the movie room. They invited me, but I needed a couple of minutes to think. Anna had spoken to me but had seemed shocked when I’d addressed her. She’d been jumping around the room at the start of the night, but then had calmed down at dinner. It all made me wonder.

I went to the movie room. Due to a difference in the preferences of people in the room, the lights had been dimmed, but not turned off. I saw the people I’d played a game with sitting toward the front of the room. Initially, I was going to go sit next to them, but then I saw Anna in the back and decided to sit by her. Not only was I curious about her, but I also didn’t want her to be alone because she was different, even if I didn’t understand why.

I sat down next to her. Her eyes were fixed on the screen.

“Hey,” I whispered as I sat down.

She looked at me. No shocked hesitation this time.

“Hey,” she whispered as she looked back at the screen.

I simply just sat next to her watching the movie for a bit until at one point I glanced over at her and noticed tears rolling down her face.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

She looked over at me and with a tearful smile said, “You chose me.”

I didn’t know what to think. Was my choice between where I would sit in the movie room written that obviously on my face that she had noticed it. What was it all about?

Reading my confusion, she explained, “Normally, I’m just the person jumping around and flailing my arms like I was in the first room. It isn’t a disability; I just usually don’t know what to say or how to act.”

I nodded, following along best I could.

“Then in the dining room, you sat next to me. I know that it was the only place left, but it still felt good. When you talked to me, it felt good too. I was still nervous then, that’s why I didn’t talk very much.”

I nodded. It was starting to make sense.

“Then you chose me here. I’d heard you playing a game with some of the other people here. I really thought that you’d sit by them when I saw you come in the movie room after them, but you chose me.”

She then rested her head on my shoulder, and I put my arm around her. I didn’t realize that those little things I did were having such a big impact. All I’d done was sit by her and talked to her. Had she really felt this alone that just having someone do these simple things meant so much to her? The tears being shed on my t-shirt were proof that the answer was yes. I’d never realized that just showing a little bit of human kindness could go this far.

“You chose me,” she said again as she cried.

I thought about her. Not just her, but the other people out there who would be touched this much just by simple acts of kindness that the rest of the world takes for granted. I thought about the impact that could be made on their lives just by showing it to them.

“You chose me,” she said again.

And then, saying it as much to her as to anyone who needed to be shown kindness, I said, “And I always will.”

Jonahs Christmas travel plans included as top with these amazing friends – Good choice:)

O Come Let Us Adore

I dreamt of the end of the world.

It was Advent, so naturally, Amy Grant”s and Michael W. Smith’s Christmas albums were in our six-CD stereo on repeat. I was long past the age of standing on the couch, belting out my own falsetto with the dramatic choir numbers, but the familiar hymns still got me to sing along. I knew every word.

We baked cookies that day, the sugar kind. This name always catches me off guard a bit – aren’t all cookies sugar cookies? I’ve yet to meet a (true) cookie that isn’t sugary. Icing bags strewn around the kitchen table, rogue sprinkles bouncing on the wooden top. I tried too hard to make mine look professional (my mom’s were always perfect) and hyperbolic tears welled up in my eyes when I couldn’t get a few just-right. But the joyousness of the season kept the dampness at bay. We arranged the cookies on trays to take to church for Christmas Eve munching and cleaned the kitchen.

Holiday baking is still a joy of mine.

The rest of the day was probably filled with other preparations, but I don’t remember what. We probably said prayers as a family and I walked upstairs to my bedroom. I mostly likely turned on the light and pulled out my latest book and read until far too late in the evening before finally turning out the light and going to sleep.

All of a sudden, voices were singing loud and clear, like the jolt of sitting in a dark theatre and hearing the strong opening notes for a symphony or musical.

Sing, choirs of angels. Sing in exultation. Sing all ye citizens of heaven above.

The scene unfolded before me: brilliant colors everywhere. Volcanoes erupting. Simultaneous terror and awe.

Glory to God, all glory in the highest.

Everything was opening up, nature was exulting its creator.

O come let us adore him, o come let us adore him. O come let us adore him: Christ the Lord.

I woke up, a little more frightened of the night. But, strangely comforted and a little sad the brilliance had ended.

In Advent, we celebrate the coming of Christ. But not just the sweet baby in the dirty manger surrounded by animals and their unpleasant smells. We also look to the return of that king, no longer in his chosen humility, but instead in his kingly splendor. We look to the return of creation’s author.

What a blessing it is that the humble appearance of Christ took our shame and robed us in glory so that on the day of his return in glory, we have no need for fear. Instead, we may lift our voices with the choir in pure joy. The day is drawing near – who needs to hear of the humble in order to rejoice with the splendor? Share your joy today?

Verses for Meditation

Psalm 86:8-9 (AMP)

There is no one like You among the gods, O Lord,

Nor are there any works [of wonder and majesty] like Yours.

All nations whom You have made shall come and kneel down in worship before You, O Lord,

And they shall glorify Your name.

1 Chronicles 16:32 (AMP)

Let the sea roar, and all the things that fill it;

Let the field rejoice, and all that is in it.

Luke 21:36

But keep alert at all times [be attentive and ready], praying that you may have the strength and ability [to be found worthy and] to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand in the presence of the Son of Man [at His coming].”

2 Corinthians 1:20

For as many as are the promises of God, in Christ they are [all answered] “Yes.” So through Him we say our “Amen” to the glory of God.

Philippians 2:6-11

Though [Christ Jesus] was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


“On your feet now – applaud God!

Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourself into His presence.

Know this: God is God, God, God.

He made us, we didn’t make Him.

We’re His people, His well tended sheep.

Enter with the password, ” Thank you!”

Make yourselves at home talking praise.






Always and EVER.”

Psalm 100 The MSG



Give Thanks.

All are offerings to our God, sweet incense to his senses –

What if today – we all did these three:

Laugh, Sing, Give Thanks.

Even if….

The Turkey is Dry.

The conversation gets uncomfortable.

The traffic is heavy.

There is an empty seat at the table reminding us of the absence of all we love that are no longer with us.

The team does not win.

The diagnosis is clear and hard.

Even if…..

The weights of this world feel heavy and daunting…

Can we find a space,

can we trust our God to give us the strength and the desire to



Give Thanks.

It’s my prayer for you. It’s my prayer for me.

May you feel His peace today.

A Prayer:

Lord, allow my heart to feel the peace that comes from the confidence grown over a life time of receiving your abundant provision. Even today I sit under the heap of blessings and answered prayers. Give me the assurance as I head into today that you are present, you are faithful, you are real. Amen

My greatest gifts.

In Darkness

One of my husband and I’s greatest joys in parenting has been taking our kids on adventures. Specifically, the outdoor kind. Missouri is known for its incredible cave systems, so one lovely fall day we decided to dip our toes into spelunking.

As the loving and protective mama bear of our tribe, I packed all the recommended items including three flashlights and one helmet per person. Halfway to the state park, however, we realized we were down to 1 ½ flashlights per person thanks to the unpacking skills of our youngest. But, we shrugged it off patting our trusty cellphones with flashlight capability (millenials, amiright?)

After a brief walk along the trail, we climbed down the cool steps and donned our helmets for the 166-foot walk to the end of Connor’s Cave. Once in the tunnel, I felt both the thrill of underground exploration and the terror of being a mother to small children. With the youngest in the backpack, I kept a solid grip on my preschooler’s hand. 

In a dry spot, in between groups of fellow spelunkers, my husband suggested an unnerving but valuable experience. We held hands and turned off the flashlights (don’t worry, we had them strapped tightly to our wrists!) so we could experience total darkness. After about a second our older boys cried out. They didn’t like the feeling and wanted to turn back. We kept talking and holding their hands, assuring them we would keep them safe.

They pushed through their fear and kept going.

Our family values debriefing, so later, while walking another trail in the park, we asked the boys if it was worth it. We received a resounding YES. Our follow-up questions were meant to provide an opportunity to process and build problem-solving: What scared you the most? What could we do if we lost our flashlights?

As the summer sunshine fades and days get shorter and gloomier, I encourage you to process the darkness. Where is there darkness around you? Is it in your own life? A loved one’s?

Sometimes the flashlights are off for just a moment, and sometimes we fear the potential, but we can’t know what it feels like in the dark until all the flashlights are gone.

Identify the flashlight. Name the people who are a beacon of light in your life or be the flashlight to someone whose darkness is deeper than yours. Because only through joining hands and experiencing it together can we remind each other of the light of Christ and fight back against the powers of darkness.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

Questions for Reflection:

Have you ever been in a cave or out on a starless night and experienced total darkness?

Have you ever felt like the flashlights were out and then realized you were just closing your eyes?

Have you experienced total darkness in your life?

To what or whom did you turn for help?

Where is the darkness winning right now?

Who can you hold hands and fight with?

Suggested Flashlight Activities

Listen to Living Water and experience Scripture (Ephesians 6?).

Leave your Bible open in a space you walk by often and read it throughout your day.

Call a friend.

False Bird of Paradise

I visited the Missouri Botanical Garden for the first time earlier this month. A lovely friend had tickets for the Children’s Garden inside, so we took our three-year-old daughters and 9-month-old(ish) sons. The day was absolutely wonderful, full of exploring, giggling, and a little bit of getting lost. We didn’t spend much time in the rest of the gardens, but we did take a short walk through the Climatron, a geodesic dome dedicated to propagating tropical plants. One plant caught my eye: False Bird of Paradise (Heliconia stricta). This plant’s name – its essence – is dedicated to being the “false” of something else.

As any good millennial will do, I got home and Googled to learn more. According to, “the False Bird of Paradise is so remarkable that once you’ve seen it, you will never forget it!” An unforgettably beautiful plant…identified as a fake.

I grew up in a tropical area, and I can vouch personally for the beauty of real Bird of Paradise plants. But I am confused as to why the also-beautiful Heliconia stricta lives in its shadow.

My original picture of the sign.

How many of us are content being a false bird of paradise? Insecure and unsure of who we are, we scroll, click, copy, shop, and rearrange in order to match someone else’s standard. One drawback to our uber-connected world is that we’ve got a million apps to track everyone else’s opinions on everything from beer to hikes. Now, some of you might be thinking, Oh no, Molly. I do what I like. I hike where I like. I make new recipes that don’t have any stars and if I’m the only one that likes it I don’t care. Good. I’m happy for you. Sometimes I have your confidence. But too often I make choices and second guess them.

God made me who I am. Yes, I am sinful. I have flaws in my personality. But that doesn’t take away from the unique preferences, thoughts, and quirks he gave me. He made those parts of me, and he wants me to live them out to glorify him. When I am constantly modeling my life after someone else, I am missing my God-given purpose.

But Jesus came to die for this, too.

Jesus died to redeem all of us. He redeemed people who value adventure and the outdoors. He redeemed people who would rather curl up on their couch with a cup of tea and a good book. He redeemed people who like cleaning and people who are ok with a little mess. He redeemed the naturally patient and those (like me) who are a constant work in progress. And he made us all different to complement one another. The Missouri Botanical Garden wouldn’t be quite as spectacular if it only contained one plant. Ok, it would be rather lame, actually. It needs variety.

We don’t want to spend our lives identifying as the fake version of someone else. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t seek wise counsel or find admirable qualities to learn from heroes of the faith. But the way we live out our faith should be unique to us.

And let me leave you with one final thought. Another part of this curious plant’s name caught my attention.


In the book of Revelation, God says to the church in Ephesus,  “He who has an ear, let him hear and heed what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes [the world through believing that Jesus is the Son of God], I will grant [the privilege] to eat [the fruit] from the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.’ Revelation 2:7 (AMP). 

We don’t have to be false birds of paradise when the real paradise has already been promised to us. We are unique and unreproducible miracles of God, and with his leading, we can live out who we are with confidence for his glory. Keep your eyes on Jesus, and be your own bird of paradise.

Mystery of Melchizedek

I have always struggled to understand the story of Melchizedek. A minor character in the story of Abraham rescuing his nephew, Lot, he takes up only four verses of real estate in Genesis 14. However, a decent chunk of the book of Hebrews is dedicated to describing Jesus as a priest in the order of Melchizedek. I’ve always been confused by this. Why is this guy worthy of comparison to Jesus? We know very little about Melchizedek. All we’re given in Genesis is that he is:

  1. The king of Salem
  2. A priest of “God Most High”

He gives Abraham bread and wine and a blessing, and Abraham gives him a tenth of everything he owns. The end.

This month I am reading through Hebrews. This week I am in the portion regarding Jesus as a high priest in the order of Melchizedek. This morning, I opened the kids’ story Bible (not related to my reading plan whatsoever) and what story is next in our reading plan? Abraham Rescues Lot, followed by his interaction with Melchizedek. 

Friends, this is a Kairos moment. When God brings to mind or initiates interactions with a particular thought, idea, story, or scripture I know he is telling me: slow down. Listen carefully. I have something to teach you.


Our other morning read, an apologetics devotional, discussed the importance of names. Ok. What’s in Melchizedek’s name?

“For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.” (Hebrews 7:1-3, ESV, emphasis mine).

Alright, I’m tracking here. Jesus is in the order of Melchizedek. Jesus is also King of Righteousness and King of Peace.

But why this dude? His name is spot on, he’s super mysterious and that’s cool, but why is Jesus so connected with him?

The Bible I use for daily reading is the Story of Redemption Bible. It’s got little bits of commentary scattered throughout the text that help me see Jesus in every part of scripture. And one note on Hebrews 7 helped me see something I’d never noticed before:

“Faced with the fact that Jesus is descended from Judah and not Levi the author notices a line .in Psalm 110 addressing a priest ‘after the order of Melchizedek’…the author unfolds why Jesus the High Priest is better than any high priest from the line of Levi; He had no sin of his own to atone for, he lives forever to intercede for his people, and, above all, he is the guarantor of the new covenant the prophets foretold” (Greg Gilbert, The Story of Redemption Bible commentary on Hebrews 7).

Ahhh. Priests usually come from the line of Levi. Jesus is the Lion of Judah. He is an extraordinary priest. He’s a perfect priest. He is a priest AND king.

God knew that the Hebrew people would expect their priestly Messiah to come from the line of Levi, but even before that line was established, he introduced a mysterious priest-king. God knew our questions even before we asked them. He knew where he would be doubted even before the doubt came.

But now I’m curious… why is God bringing this to mind for me, now? The second part of a Kairos moment is asking the question, How will I live differently? And at the time I’m writing this, I’m still in the midst of answering those questions.

What questions are you still answering? What stories have always troubled you? What keeps swirling around in your head unanswered? I urge you today to slow down. Pause. Listen carefully. Take just a few moments to acknowledge the thoughts in your head. Write them down or go for a walk (or, if you’re extroverted or a verbal processor, take a friend out for coffee and make sure you buy them lots of muffins to keep their mouth full while you talk). Then, let me know what you find out about God or yourself. And remember, sometimes the joy is simply in the searching.

Observer: Crucifixion

Welcome Jonah Lange, guest writer, back to the fire. Jonah is a graduate student at University of Iowa studying school counseling. He enjoys running, board games and exploring the world in which he lives.

A man was being led away by a squad of soldiers. He didn’t seem like a violent man, so the soldiers seemed rather unnecessary. They led him into the temple. I didn’t see him for a while after that. I heard what some were saying about him. Some said he deserved death, while others swore that he had only done good. Spurred on by my curiosity of what I’d heard, I decided to go and see it when he was going to be crucified. Apparently, they must’ve found out something bad about him.

I got there when they first put him on the cross. They’d put a crown of thorns on his head along with an inscription on his cross saying that he was the king of the Jews.

I didn’t know how long I’d stick around. Sometimes, it’d be days before a crucified criminal would die; however, from the start, something seemed different about this. For one, it got dark fast. Expecting a storm to break out, I almost just left. My house was far off anyway and I figured I’d get just as wet either way. So I stayed. Much to my surprise, it didn’t rain.

At one point he asked for a drink and at another he called out to God. Then, all of a sudden, a lot of things started happening. Rocks started splitting and the earth shook. It looked like the man on the cross had died, but it would’ve been much earlier than normal. I ran pretty quickly.

The next day, I heard that some people had taken his body down and put it in a tomb. The man must have really been dead. I tried to go see the tomb for myself but seeing that it was being guarded by Roman soldiers, I chose not to approach. The question of who the man was still rang through my mind. No one had really seen his followers around since the day he died.

A few days later, I was walking around and thought I saw the man going around with his disciples. At first, I thought it may have just been someone who looked like him. I wouldn’t have been surprised considering that I’d been thinking about him quite a bit recently. However, when I saw the holes in his hands, I knew it had to be him. I immediately dropped what I was doing and went to see where he was going. I continued in my curiosity, until I saw him speaking with his main followers and then, all of a sudden, float into the air and disappear. Seeing that and hearing what his disciples said afterwards made me more than convinced that he was someone special. Perhaps the son of God. 

30,000 Feet

Reunion Tower: Dallas, TX

It was so good to see him.

We grew up in the same town and graduated from the same high school.

We agreed that Mr. Falan was the best history teacher.

He worked at the Big Boy where my friends and I would gather late at night for hot fudge ice cream cake.

I worked down the street at Dairy Queen.

He had lived on Island Lake and I had lived down the street from Hope Lake. Two of the many lakes in our little Michigan town.

I still miss the water and evergreens that dotted the landscape of my drive to my high school, the same one my friend attended.

My friend, … that lived in the same town I did during high school. The one that had the same favorite teacher, worked at a popular stomping ground,

The friend I hadn’t seen in such a long time….

actually I hadn’t ever seen him.,,

because we met for the first time last week,

at 30,000 feet.

You discover funny things in life… when you’re paying attention.

At the beginning of July a book was placed in my hands.

The giver, my wise nephew, encouraged me to read it with no strings attached. He did not want me to feel pressured to embrace the beliefs of the author but believed he had some ideas worth considering.

I respect and trust my 27 year old nephew so I dove in. I devoured the book that stretched me, challenged me, comforted me, inspired me. I told my husband about it, kids about it …..

actually anyone that would listen.

I have to believe that it is the book, the one from my wise nephew… that was instrumental in heightening my awareness to the events occurring in my everyday life… the things that I noticed when I looked around me, in front of me, beside me. The things that were in my physical space that walked right by me. The book helped me grow my awareness to the humans I encounter everyday, the humans I work with and worship with and recreate with and…

live with.

You know…. the ones closest and most important to me.

And my new friend, the one who graduated from the same High school as I did and loved the same history teacher and worked at my favorite late night hang out…

that I met last week for the first time…

at 30,000 feet.

Please allow me to pause here in the middle of my story ( hate to leave you hanging since we floating at 30,000 feet and all)…

If you were to list the top three things you value most in life… what would they be?

Go ahead… what are they? Say them out loud. If you know me and have my number…. shoot me a text.

This list, my top 3, is where I chose to put my focus at the beginning of July – you know, when my nephew gave me the book….

Looking through the lense of my top 3 – I took 30 days to evaluate …. everything.

Every minute of how I spend my time was filtered through the question….

“Does this support my top 3?”

This is not easy- creating a clear head space to objectively evaluate time spent. So there was one small task the author of the book required ( if we wanted an accurate view of our lives) …

Stop all forms of technology that aren’t necessary…. for 30 days.

No social media.

No for fun apps.

No blogs, podcasts….

Friends, the above list had become my oxygen and I decided to disconnect the tank.

I chose to do this during a month where my highlight reel would be strong.

A visit from my parents for the first time in 4 years.

Kansas City BBA with Mom and Dad

A golf getaway with Tom.

Golf at the Lake of the Ozarks

A family gathering with all of my children.

Biking the Katy Trail

An in person seminar where my team and I would be recognized for our best year in business ….


In 19 years.

My top achievers from my team – Best year Ever!!!

No posts, no scrolling, no filling my mind with constant chatter of my favorite podcasters while traveling. No story scrolling on Insta…



And here I sit… at my favorite coffee shop.. telling you the story of a life of 30 days of fighting to stay in the moment, not escape the uncomfortable and open my eyes to all around me.

Have I mentioned my friend? The one that graduated from the same High school I did? The one that had the same favorite teacher? The one that worked at Big Boy?

The one I met last week… because I was…..

paying attention?

As I made my way to the back of the plane, my eyes were searching for my friend. She had boarded before me and saved me a seat. ( Southwest – no assigned seats)

I spotted her engaged in conversation with a friendly looking gentlemen. She had the window seat, he had the aisle and I would get the middle. Its the price you pay for downloading your boarding pass too late when flying Southwest.

He was traveling from Guatemala where he had recently been assigned by his church to serve a mission. From his thoughtful tone to the simple priestly robe he wore, we knew he was passionate about his calling and his life’s purpose. If I learned nothing more about Father Zach I would have considered our interaction as positive and encouraging.

But I did learn more….. and I’m so glad I was paying attention. I am so glad that I met him at the end of my 30 day technology detox… my senses were clear and I had practiced being present.

In the course of our conversation I mentioned I had lived in Michigan. He remarked that he was familiar with the area I spent my childhood and high school years. When I inquired about why, he answered….

“I grew up at Chicago and Evergreen.” ( for non- Michigan Readers those are crossroads in Detroit.)

“Really!” I replied. And for God only knows why, I asked… “So where did you go to high school.”

And it was that moment, at 30,000 feet, that I thanked God I was there… really there. Present. Focused. Watching.

“Well, I was kind of a handful in high school so my mom had me go live with my dad…. in Brighton – I graduated from Brighton High school.”

Friends – Did I mention that I was on a flight from Dallas TX, to Kansas City, MO? Did you know that is no where close to Brighton, Michigan?? Did I tell you it was 10:30 pm at night and I was exhausted after a fantastic week with my business team??

Did I tell you I grew up in Brighton? That I graduated from Brighton High School??

The same place this man, that had previously practiced law in California and felt the call to serve God as a Catholic priest at age 32, that was sitting to my left, en route to Kansas city….

Had graduated from the same high school I had.

He was the class of ’79.

I was ’88.

And yes – we did have the same History teacher and we both agreed that he was the best.

And there we were….

On a 55 minute flight from Dallas to Kansas City – meeting for the very first time.

I’ll probably never see him again.

But I’m pretty sure I am forever changed.

I am changed because my nephew handed me a book.

I am changed because I took the challenge to list my top 3.

I am changed because I created space by disconnecting for 30 days, a space that opened up room for new friends, from old stomping grounds.

I’m changed because when I turned down some of the voices in my world…. God’s voice got louder.

And boy do I need that in my life……

the sound, the direction, the wisdom, the clarity that comes when I hear HIS voice and see the ways he shows up in my everyday life.

Now… more than ever.

The author of the book is not a proponent of disconnecting from everything forever. Not even close.

But he is convinced that there is power in …

Taking 30 days to look through the lense of your top 3 values so you can decide what best serves them.

He believes (and now I do too) that we live in a world that welcomes any and all distractions without ever considering how they are impacting ourselves, our most important relationships, our very lives.

So….. here I sit…. in the midst of some decisions…what I’ll return too, at what level I’ll engage.

One thing is for sure….. I never want to miss the beautiful surprises in life that I see when I am living in the moment…

especially those at 30,000 feet.

And what is that book ? you ask…”Digital Minimalism” By Cal Newport.

Forever grateful for my nephew Ted – who put this book in my hands.

The Book “Werm”

Welcome Guest writer Jonah Lange. Jonah is a graduate student at Northern Iowa University studying School Counseling. In he spare time he likes to run, read, and write clever short stories like the one below. Enjoy.

I. Didn’t. Like it.
We had to do a book report. Usually, I really liked book reports. I love reading. This time; however, the book we read was assigned to us. Honestly, I wouldn’t have minded that either had I not been assigned such a boring looking book. Other people got fun fiction books, and some even got to read comic books. Me? I was assigned Werm, a historical book about a poor European man. The teacher said that the book would challenge me, but that he thought I was ready for it. We’ll see, I guess.
It started off slow. A bunch of numbers and dates of when Werm (whose given name was actually Will Bunt) and his siblings were born and how his parents both died when he was quite young, and he had to support his family so that he and his siblings would survive. I looked up at the clock. I’d been reading this for 2 hours and I was only 20 pages in. It was such a drag. I didn’t know how I’d ever finish it. I decided to call it a night and try to pick up reading it tomorrow.

Tomorrow came and, though I may have actively avoided it for most of my day, I eventually brought myself back to trying to read Werm. As I’d said, it didn’t seem much unlike any other dystopian historical book that I’d ever heard of before. Except, it seemed almost like it was getting interesting. Werm was working at a farm, but being younger, he wasn’t able to do as much. Due to laws, the owner was obligated to pay Werm a fair rate, but he didn’t think Werm was even worth the small amount he was paying him. Werm could tell that his job and thus the lives of he and his siblings were at stake. He had to figure out something to protect his siblings. At this point, I kind of started to like Werm. He was hard-working, but also selfless. When I looked up at the clock, 2 hours had gone by, and I’d read almost 50 pages!

The next day, I got up and went straight to reading. Werm had come up with a plan. He knew he could work hard; he just needed a way to for the hard work he put in to show some real results. His main job at the farm had always been to care for the plants. In his case, that mostly meant pulling up weeds. For him, however, some of the weeds were harder to pull up because of how deep the roots went. So, he decided to help himself out. He went out with a shovel to the beginning of the first row. He started digging a hole. It took a while, but eventually, he dug a hole deep enough to stand in. Then, from down in the hole he started to dig sideways under the row of plants. He knew he couldn’t dig too shallow underneath the plants or they might die. He had to be extremely careful. Also, since the man he worked for didn’t know what he was doing, he also had to be sneaky. Thus, He had to fill in the dirt as he dug, so that no one knew he was tunneling under the crops. I’ll admit that I was nervous. If he did it wrong, the crops would die and likely so would he and his family. As he dug, he started to not only successfully get rid of weeds, but he also found rocks, most of which he removed to help the plants’ roots grow better.
Eventually he found one rock that was different. It was gold! He didn’t know what to do. He had found it on his owner’s property, so he felt it belonged to him, but he’d also have to explain how he found it. He knew that he’d be in more trouble for not showing it to the owner, so he brought it in.
Edge. Of. My. Seat. What would happen? Would the owner fire him for tunneling? Would he let him keep the gold? Unfortunately, it was getting late, so I had to stop reading. I’d read over 100 pages that day.

I got up early the next day to finish the book. When Werm showed the gold to the owner, the owner was surprised. Naturally, the owner’s questions lead Werm to telling about the tunnels. After hearing everything, the owner was amazed. Not only in Werm’s hard-working attitude, but also in his cleverness and integrity. First, he thanked Werm for bringing in the gold, but said it was his to keep. Second, he told Werm how the crops in the rows he’d been tunneling in had been doing even better than the others and he wanted to raise Werm’s pay. Third, he wanted to help Werm provide for his siblings. He offered to pay for their house so that more of Werm’s money could go to buying food for he and his siblings.It was such a good book. It had indeed been a challenge, but one that I pushed through and ultimately loved at the end.
Now to write the report. I knew it wouldn’t take long. I already knew everything I would say.
All I needed now was a good title.

The End.

“You’re one of those people aren’t you!?” my husband looked at me, incredulous.

Turns out, after four years of dating and eight years of marriage we still have some stuff to learn.

“Yes, I am. I’m not ashamed and I’m not going to change” I replied, processing my reasoning as I spoke the words. It’s something I’ve always accepted about myselfbut until this moment—I hadn’t processed why. I pursed my lips, my eyes searching the textured ceiling for a response. “It gives me…a boundary of sorts. A sense of security.”

We were discussing, of course, reading ahead to the end of a story.

I’ve always been a bookworm. A nerdy type, who, as a child, had books taken away instead of being grounded. Characters come alive to me as my imaginary friends. Especially as a child, but occasionally even as an adult, I become inconsolably grouchy after finishing a series or saga, reeling with the disappointment that my wide world has shrunk back down to reality. 

I didn’t start out as the skip-to-the-end type, but sometime around the fifth or sixth grade I started reading Cheaper by the Dozen and mentioned it to an older, wiser, bookworm. They “didn’t want to spoil it” but implied a sad ending. I loved this memoir but was just entering into the emotional unraveling we refer to as “puberty” and my already delicate heart didn’t need any more fodder for meltdown. I read ahead, prepared my heart, and thus began a lifetime of peeking at the final chapter.

Lest you start to judge me, let me argue a bit more in my defense. I read the ending not so I may set the book aside and skip to another, but to enrich the middle. Once I know how the story will end I know how my emotions will be pulled. I find security in this. A good writer includes twists and turns throughout the plot, but I face these knowing that eventually the lost princess will be found (or eaten!), the grandfather will die peacefully after reconciling with his estranged family, or the lost item will remain lost but the seeker will find true contentedness.

As humans, we are sent to walk on earth for a time. Very little of our life is guaranteed, and even some of those “for sure” plans disappear. We may dream of marriage and family, may or may not happen (or happen in a way we do not expect), a career we spend our lives preparing for may become obsolete or unattainable due to unforeseen circumstances. We may live a quiet, faithful life and be suddenly affected by chronic pain, food allergy, change in economic status, disability, or unplanned pregnancy.

But followers of Christ know how the story ends.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:1-4 ESV)

At the end of the story, God will draw us to him. As Sally Lloyd-Jones puts it, “everything sad will come untrue.” Not because of anything we have done, but because of what Jesus already did.

If the middle of the story feels scary and unknown to you today, I challenge you to skip to the end. Read the book of Revelation. Maybe grab a commentary or a wise friend to help navigate the imagery. 

The middle is a mystery but the end is assured.

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.

My daughter shares my love for books.