Hidden treasures….

Today I took Dutch to the big open field at Sylvan Christian school. She loves playing fetch in the open field. With the crisp cold and sunshine, I layered my clothing, laced up my boots and set off to play a bit. It was on the 2nd throw when Dutch lost track of the ball that seemed to sail through the air and disappear in the snow. I trudged out to help her find the bright orange ball in the field of white, thinking it should be quite obvious.

I was surprised that I could not spot it where I was sure it had landed. I started to try to look for a spot in the snow where the ball entered….but no luck. How can an orange ball disappear in the midst of this while field?

I started walking around and crunching the top layer of snow which was more like a layer of  ice. It broke with a sense of crispness. I could feel the pressure against my boots and it took some intentional pressure to break the top layer. I was surprised that underneath that crisp, firm layer of protective ice was oodles of fluffy white snow. It was the light and playful kind of snow and Dutch delighted in it as i broke up more and more of the icy top layer.

And so it got me thinking….

The journey in the snow today reminded me of times I apply a protective layer to my heart. When i have this layer, from a distance it looks acceptable and may even appear a bit shiny, but when I have this protective layer on my heart, it often hides some of the treasures that are within. During this journey to my heart, I have had good friends apply some gentle pressure and crack this layer, only to delight in and teach me about the playful, light-hearted treasures that are underneath.

And just so you know, as you see in the picture above, Dutch also found her treasure once we broke up that top layer.

All I have need of……

He\’s Always Been Faithful…

I encourage you to take a minute and listen to the words of a song that seemed to embed in my heart and mind today.  It is a Sara Groves song called “He’s Always Been Faithful.” As I was cleaning and sorting today, I heard this song. It was almost like the words were extra clear and penetrated any thought process that was currently making way through my mind.

It was these words that made me stop and reflect.

All I have need of his hand will provide. He’s always been faithful to me

I started to think about that some more…..do i really believe that and do I journey through each day trusting that promise?

All I have need of…..

His hand will provide

He’s always been faithful

To me…..

I try to…I want to…

But I wonder how my life would be different if I really trusted that God’s hand will provide….where would I act different, respond different, worry less, celebrate more?

Afterall, I can say, He’s always been faithful to me. Through the valley and on the mountain tops, in the joy and the pit of sorrow, in my loneliness and when I feel His love in the community around me…He has been faithful. I am thankful…

Something to consider and I hope I will continue to embrace the amazing truths in this beautiful song!


I have learned so much in my journey to my heart. The lessons learned have come from learning to cry and remembering to laugh, sharing the ache and celebrating the joy, staying focused on the task at hand and remembering to never let go of  my dreams. Perhaps even more important though is believing (and practicing) that loving someone (or being loved well) does not mean fixing, solving or rescuing from life circumstances or emotional pain.

I want to share with you the following ~ a favorite of mine. It is my hope that I will always remember what it means to come along side and companion….

Companioning Is About…

Honoring the spirit ~

it is not about focusing on the intellect

Curiosity ~

not about expertise

Learning from others ~

it is not about teaching them

Walking along side ~

it is not about leading

Being still ~

it is not about frantic movement forward

Discovering the gifts of sacred silence ~

it is not about filling every painful moment with words

Listening with the heart ~

it is not about analyzing with the head

Bearing witness to the struggles of others ~

it is not about directing those struggles

Being present to another person’s pain ~

it is not about taking away the pain

Respecting disorder and confusion ~

it is not about imposing order and logic

Going to the wilderness of the soul with another human being ~

it is not thinking you are responsible for finding the way out


Whats in a size…

I spent the day today working through my collection of clothing. I have clothes that cover a wide array of sizes and this whole journey to wellness is now allowing me to sort and rid myself of an over abundance of clothes. I learned it is good to do with someone (thanks Mom) because there are some items I likely would not get rid of if I were sorting alone. I did not quite complete the process, but I am looking forward to completing the process this weekend and then passing the clothes on to others who might enjoy them.

I was reminded today that sizing varies in so many ways. I had been thinking that I would like to fit into a size 10 when I am at my goal, but perhaps today was a good reminder to not cement myself into any number goals. It was amazing to me how I fit into a six number range in sizes today. I know one thing for sure, in the few hours I was trying on and sorting clothing, my size did not change! I want to trust how something feels and make decisions based on what is real…not what number is on the tag.

And so i wonder if there are other places in my life that I create a box for myself that restricts me from living more freely. I want to learn to trust my heart, mind and gut. Somehow I think if I trust those three places in my being, I will find that I worry less about a number on the scale, what size my clothes are or how much is in my bank account. I believe if I trust my heart, mind and gut….God will be honored and life will be enjoyed!

Lessons learned while hungry….

I am committed to a 40 day food plan that has me fasting from many of my daily comfort foods. I am struck by how my food choices have changed since the days of Fitness North, not that long ago, but how new comfort foods have stepped up to the plate! I am learning that even healthy choices can serve a “wrong” purpose. I have been learning so much about portion control and the difference between what my mind wants and what my body needs. I am pleased to say that since October, my portion control has changed dramatically. In this coming season, it is changing more. I am learning more about the true purpose of food and the many distorted ways I utilize food.

During this next phase of growth and learning, I am preparing only the amount of food I am allotted. I am training my mind to be satisfied without just a little more. I am learning that my body can be satisfied with much less than my mind believes. I am learning the balance between life is to be enjoyed (and often food is a part of that enjoyment) and food is nutritional and allows us energy to live a life of service.

And so, as I end this day with pangs of hunger, I am reminded how fortunate I am to have choices about food and how much I consume. Many people in our world are dying of starvation and do not know anything about the accessibility and abundance I am blessed to experience every day.

May I remember that lives are lost, hearts are numbed, and gluttony is practiced when too much food is consumed. I desire to live…to live fully alive…and in that, I can learn valuable lessons while being a bit hungry!

Wearing the love…

Today I put on my charm bracelet as I left the house. Now, this is no ordinary charm bracelet. This is the gift I received on my 40th birthday from my family. My parent’s gifted me the bracelet itself and then each person or family unit presented me with charms and a story of why they chose that charm for me.

This bracelet contains the following love charms…

Aunt Dot gifted me….

A sunshine charm cause her and I travel to the sun together

A follow your dreams charm because she has supported me in the start-up of Visiting Angels and many other dreams

Hermie gifted me….

A live, laugh, love charm because I live these words AND love words.

Len and Marcia, Olivia, Noah, Sonta and Jean Marc gifted me….

A heart charm that is inscribed with “Haiti”

My birthstone charm because I am special

A sombrero charm representing our trip to Mexico to celebrate

An Angel charm because of Visiting Angels of West Michigan

Nick and Jonna, Andrew and Ryan gifted me….

A drill charm cause Nick is willingly my handy man

A number 2 charm cause we have an inside family joke on that one.

A football charm cause I go to Chicago to watch Andrew play football

A cello charm cause Ryan plays cello and I enjoy his concerts

Arlene and Dan, Janneke, Henry, Anne, Karolyn, Ellie gifted me….

A balloons charm cause Dan remembers how I would send the kids balloons for their birthday when they lived in California and Minnesota

A wreath charm because Arlene and I have an inside joke

A suitcase charm because I took Janneke to Haiti

A #1 charm for being a great aunt

A dog charm cause Anne is Dutch’s personal trainer

A cruise ship charm cause we went on a cruise as a family to celebrate my 40th

A horse charm because I took Ellie horse back riding

Suzi, Andy, Peter, Isaiah and Johanna gifted me…

A softball charm cause I taught Suzi all her softball skills when I was in HS and she was 8

A clock charm cause I am generous with my time for their family

A heart charm  that says “best babysitter”

A french fries charm cause Peter and Isaiah love to go to McDonalds.


I find that when I put on this bracelet, I can feel the love….

I find that when I put on this bracelet, I can hear the words….

I find when I put on this bracelet, I can see the faces….

I find when I put on this bracelet, I am reminded of how I am blessed to be in the community of my family, to be loved unconditionally by my parents, aunt, brothers and sisters and their spouses and a whole slew of children.

I find when I put on this bracelet, I am aware of how blessed and loved I am.

I think I will wear this bracelet again tomorrow!

I have a dream…

The I Have a Dream Speech

I found it helpful to read the context of the whole speech today. I invite you to read it as well. He had a way of saying what was and calling for change….may we be inspired and faithful in our own daily walks…


In 1950’s America, the equality of man envisioned by the Declaration of Independence was far from a reality. People of color — blacks, Hispanics, Asians — were discriminated against in many ways, both overt and covert. The 1950’s were a turbulent time in America, when racial barriers began to come down due to Supreme Court decisions, like Brown v. Board of Education; and due to an increase in the activism of blacks, fighting for equal rights.

Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist minister, was a driving force in the push for racial equality in the 1950’s and the 1960’s. In 1963, King and his staff focused on Birmingham, Alabama. They marched and protested non-violently, raising the ire of local officials who sicced water cannon and police dogs on the marchers, whose ranks included teenagers and children. The bad publicity and break-down of business forced the white leaders of Birmingham to concede to some anti-segregation demands.

Thrust into the national spotlight in Birmingham, where he was arrested and jailed, King helped organize a massive march on Washington, DC, on August 28, 1963. His partners in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom included other religious leaders, labor leaders, and black organizers. The assembled masses marched down the Washington Mall from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, heard songs from Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, and heard speeches by actor Charlton Heston, NAACP president Roy Wilkins, and future U.S. Representative from Georgia John Lewis.

King’s appearance was the last of the event; the closing speech was carried live on major television networks. On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, King evoked the name of Lincoln in his “I Have a Dream” speech, which is credited with mobilizing supporters of desegregation and prompted the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The next year, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The following is the exact text of the spoken speech, transcribed from recordings.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

Martin Luther King, Jr., delivering his 'I Have a Dream' speech from the steps of Lincoln Memorial. (photo: National Park Service)

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”