Archive for the ‘Reflections on Life’ Category

One word. For the last few years I’ve tried to select one word to focus on for the year. In 2016, it was “family” and it was a year filled with intentional effort to put family first. I saw my nephew play basketball and my niece play softball. I attended another niece’s wedding and saw my own son marry the love of his life. I proudly watched my younger son graduate from college and then spent many fall Saturdays working alongside him at Iowa State football games. I traveled to California to spend a dream vacation with my brother & sister-in-law as they shared their national park passion with me. My family year was an amazing success.

Last year my word was “intentional” and though it’s a great word, I don’t have specifics on how it made my year extraordinary. But I know it did because I focused on being intentional in how I spent my time, who I gave attention to and where I put my energies. I loved this word so much that I’ve transitioned it into 2018.

This year’s word is “choices.” Everyday I’m faced with choices – who, what, when, where, why, how? I can choose to stay fixed right where I am or I can choose to grow and change and respond with love and kindness and grace.

I’m choosing to cut back on activities that are energy drainers and put more positive energy into relationships and activities that bring growth in me and in others. Choices bombard all of us, every moment of every day. By thinking of where I’ll spend most of my energy, I can be better prepared for the last minute, “have to” choices that tend to suck me dry.

I’m not perfect and I’ll make mistakes but I’m looking forward to a year of choosing kindness (over animosity), generosity (over selfishness), grace-filled truth (over gossip), and courage in the face of fear. I’ve always been a “glass half full” girl but now it’s time to listen to those who don’t think like me because optimist or pessimist or realist, none of us have all the answers.

So pick a word for yourself. Have fun. Spend the year you’ve been given to be all God created you to be. Open up to new and different and defining. It’s your choice.


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I love going for a run when I’m in a different city. There is something about the change of scenery and routine but I can’t wait to get out and explore. This morning was no different. I dropped Don off so he could teach Old Testament for four hours (his happy place) and I consulted my new All Trails app to find a close place to hit the road. I did not realize how much the Holy Spirit would teach me in the next 90 minutes. 

  • It’s about perseverance, not speed. 

We each have our own path to walk. None of us know how long or winding or narrow or steep or difficult our trail will be. We each need to train for the long haul. Rarely is our race a sprint. Most of the time it’s a triathlon with some mountains, oceans and valleys thrown in. The prize doesn’t go to the fastest but to all of us who finish. Run your own race, not your neighbor’s. 

  • Obey the obvious signs

The signs along your path aren’t meant to spoil your fun but to warn you of an upcoming change or to save you from a crash. Don’t ignore what you know is right just to be different or cool. 

  • Know your enemy

Not everything along the path you’re on is for your good. Your enemy would love to get you off track or harm you so you are not as effective as you are designed to be. Be smart. Know who you’re fighting against. Recognize the signs of danger and avoid stupid stuff. 

  • Take the time to rest and appreciate where you are

Your path will take you many places. Learn to appreciate each one. Look for beauty everywhere. Be grateful for wildflowers amongst the poison ivy. 

  • Remain vigilant

No matter how groomed your trail, there are occasional stops designed to trip you up. Sometimes those we think are towers of strength have shallow roots which, if you aren’t careful, will cause you to stumble. Be watchful. Trust the Holy Spirit who will always guide you. He’s the One who’s marking your path. The more you know Him, the more you’ll enjoy your run. 

That’s all for now. There was so much more but I’ll save it for another day. 

Keep going. Never quit.  We’re all in this race together. 

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One year ago – still feel the same. He’s had a tough year but things are looking up.

Ordinary Life Extraordinary Destiny


He’s always been a tenacious guy. Determined. Focused. When he wants something, you know it. And he goes after it. He’s learning that just wanting something…even working really hard at something…does not guarantee he’ll get it. Life lesson #1,081,993.

But he wanted his college degree. And he’ll get it. This weekend.

The end of 17 years of formal education. Formal may be a loose term since the majority of his education came on our living room sofa. He wasn’t always focused back then…at least, not on his education. I guess he was more focused on how to get out of writing a paragraph, or completing a page of multiplication problems, or learning his list of Spanish verbs.

But somewhere along the line, he fell in love with learning. Learning about film and music and history. Learning about culture and philosophy and literature. Honing his writing and project management skills. Developing…

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He is still thought of and missed every time I see a grain truck.

Ordinary Life Extraordinary Destiny

Sometimes grief comes like a hurricane – a huge tsunami of emotion that engulfs and destroys everything. It swirls and chokes and blows and destroys – leaving only shells in its wake.

Sometimes grief is as a still small voice, a whisper of a memory, a glimpse of remembrance. Maybe it only takes the aroma of a familiar casserole, a drive through an old neighborhood, a picture of a birthday party, a holiday or anniversary, a common name.

Often grief is agonizing but as time passes it can transform into a familiar presence. Years away, it creeps back only occasionally, sometimes bringing guilt, but more often leaving a beautiful taste of what was, but will never be again. A taste to savor, not with regret, but with smiles and a shadow of happiness once again.

I had one of those moments this week as I took an extra long walk over…

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As the aunt of a United employee, I’m ecstatic that someone finally very intelligently explains what is actually involved in this media-inflamed incidence. Please read.

The Pilot Wife Life

If there’s one thing I have learned over the years, it’s that there are always two sides to every story.

On April 9th, a very unfortunate incident played out on United Flight 3411, the video of which has since gone viral causing a mass social media uprising with an ‘off-with-their-heads’ mentality. I mean, across the board. Fire ’em all and let the gods sort it out later.

Look, I get it. When I first saw the video I was appalled too. To say that it was inflammatory would be putting it mildly. But it was also a situation that was escalated far beyond the boundaries of necessity.

If a federal law enforcement officer asks me to exit a plane, no matter how royally pissed off I am, I’m going to do it and then seek other means of legal reimbursement. True story.

Knowing what I know about airport security, I’m

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It’s Friday and that means another installment of “Five for Friday,” my version of my favorite things. Today I’m listing my five favorite blogs.


There are thousands of blogs in cyberspace. Maybe hundreds of thousands. I love to read, but I only subscribe and regularly absorb only a handful, because it would be sooooo easy to spend all day and all night reading other people’s insightful (but sometimes downright stupid) writings. The following is a list of my favorites…in no order and in no relation to one another.

The Leadership Freak blog arrives in my email inbox every single day. Dan Rockwell is a leadership genius but the reason this blog is one of my favorites, which I read every day, is because he writes this blog every day. Without fail. Even on Christmas and Easter. And each post is encouraging, uplifting, enlightening, insightful, educational, and best of all, short. Dan has committed to keeping each post around 300 words. Short, to the point, and makes me think. Every time.

Jeremy Affeldt is a former major league relief pitcher, retiring last year with the San Francisco Giants. I forgave him for pitching for one of the Cubs’ competitors when I first started reading his posts. Jeremy is a strong Christian who not only believes in Jesus, but follows through with obeying the words of Christ. His blog is about grace and justice and the true meaning of following Christ. Wisdom from a Giants pitcher. Go figure.

 I probably don’t have to say much about my next two favorites. Ree Drummond (aka The Pioneer Woman) is known to most people because of her Food Network program, but I knew of her long before she hit cable television. And she is certainly more than just a great recipe. Ree was a city girl, transplanted to ranch wife, when she married her Marlboro Man and moved to Pawhuska, Oklahoma. She began blogging many years ago, before I even know what the word “blog” meant. She is a homeschooling mom, photographer and humorist…and each blog is a vulnerable look into her life. One of my favorite’s is a conversation with her husband. Hilarious.

Ann Voskamp is the author of a little book called “One Thousand Gifts” – a little book that has its own website and sat on the New York Times’ best-selling list for 60 weeks. A little Christian book about being thankful, finding joy even in the midst of incredible suffering, written almost like a poem. 60 weeks. Her blogs are similarly written – beautiful, flowing script full of wisdom and integrity and bravery. Ann is a wife and mother who was surprised at her little book’s success but has stepped into the role God has given her as a voice for embracing brokenness and pain to find healing in Jesus.

Sean_McGarveyLastly, I love, love, love my own son’s blog. Sean is my second son, a young adult who writes honestly about struggles with love, disappointment, despair, success, and hope. He writes both fiction and non-fiction but each post reflects his sensitivity and wisdom. I am so proud of him. Cannot quite wrap my brain around this young man who would cry crocodile tears when I gave him a writing assignment as a middle school student. You’ve come a long way, baby.

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I needed to re-read this…maybe you do too.

Ordinary Life Extraordinary Destiny

thankfulIf you are at all familiar with social media, you probably recognize #TBT. It stands for “Throwback Thursday.” It’s an opportunity to post a past picture of yourself or people you know. Most are meant to show how far we’ve come, or how beautiful we used to be, or who we used to hang with. Some of those pics cause me to gasp in horror, tear up in memory or laugh in disbelief. I love #TBT. But I’ve decided to start by own Thursday hashtag – #ThankfulThursday – where I take a picture or comment about things for which I’m thankful. Pretty self-explanatory.

Today’s a pretty normal day for me – nothing special happening. I find that on extraspecial days – days with lots of fun activities, or days with friends and family around – I have no problem being filled with thankfulness. But on typical and routine days, it…

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