Days That Shape The Soul

Posted by on Aug 22, 2014 in Aging, Extraordinary Everyday People, Life, Remembrance | 22 comments



If you were offered a chance to go back and revisit a day in your past, would you? Which day would you pick?

I asked myself this question yesterday as I sat watching a dozen or so wheelchair bound individuals swinging foam noodles at a balloon. I wondered what day they would pick if asked. Would a day playing the noodle game be worth revisiting – I wondered.

Our life is a masterful architectural linking of moments that together create a framework for our story, the story of our soul. No moment stands alone and yet each one carries its own weight while our heart and soul are being constructed from the inside.

Some days hold great experiences – events we wish would never end, while others are deeply sorrowful. And some days don’t seem memorable at all.

I’m not sure what day I would revisit if I could.

Happy days are easy to recall like the birth of my children, or trips to faraway places, but in the bigger scheme of things, I don’t need to relive them. They’re part of who I am and deeply rooted in my story.

I have many days I wish I could go back and do over. There are words I wish I hadn’t spoken and days poor choices affected the rest of my life. But admittedly those days are also deeply rooted in who I am.

The white haired souls at the nursing home are nearing the end of their days. Much of their time is spent alone with themselves – wandering the hallways of their memories. I asked one of the more lucid individuals which day she would revisit if she could. Her answer was simple. “Days can’t be separated from each other. Separating days would be like trying to take apart a fully baked cake”.

The mysterious soul within each of us – our eternal soul, is grown and shaped by our day to day life experiences. Whether encased in tragedy, celebration, boredom, or fairness – we become the unfolding of its masterful creation for God’s eternal use.

It may feel as though we’ve fallen victim to a faulty cake recipe. And some days might seem as though our only accomplishment is smacking a silly balloon around the room. But the truth is, every day is a gift. And the shaping of our soul is the greatest mystery we’re invited to read and write.

“Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of a great mystery.”
Annie Dillard

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Back to School Days

Posted by on Aug 15, 2014 in Children, Faith, Life, School | 19 comments

#67 back to school


It’s been five and a half years since I walked off my school campus for the last time. And it’s been almost as long since my stomach stopped the yearly churning of anticipation that comes about this time each year. I have to admit – I miss teaching.

Teaching is an honorable profession. It’s also a hard profession. There’s never enough time in the day to get it all done. And never enough money in the budget to accomplish the lofty goals set.

I still find myself thinking the calendar year starts in September and ends when summer begins to fade.

No matter what day school actually starts – whether mid August or September, it’s a special day. A day of new beginnings – a day of fresh starts. I don’t know another profession that gets to reset all over again every nine and a half months.

I love the first day of school. You can almost smell the fragrance of newness children wear – new shoes, new backpacks, freshly sharpened pencils along with new hopes and high expectations.

Classrooms also feel new. Lucky teachers get a fresh coat of paint on old cabinets and are welcomed in by the tangy smell of steamed-cleaned carpets. Bright new name tags garnish children’s cubbies and blank bulletin boards wait to welcome works of art.

It’s a time of fresh starts, new beginnings and all the stuff real life is made of.

School is a place of learning for everyone involved. But so much more than facts are learned there. School is our first exposure to belonging to a community outside our natural family. Each year teachers are faced with the task of bringing cohesion to a group of unrelated little beings for the express purpose of ending stronger, smarter and healthier than when they began.

I miss the first day of school and all the excitement that comes with it – but most of all I miss the community and the challenge of teaching.

Teachers are blessed to link with the mystery of life. It’s a high calling and a sacred trust.

The smell of new soon fades to the expected odors of sweaty bodies and lunch sacks with day-old bananas. Many tears will be spilled, feelings hurt and mended, more than a few skinned knees attended to. New concepts will be taught – some caught, some to be grasped later. Meetings will be held and scared little bodies too.

And in the end – there’s an indescribable satisfaction that can’t be compared.

My hat is tipped to the brave souls entering the wonderful world of school life this month. Know that your classroom will be fuller than you thought – not because of the state budget, but because our Heavenly Father promises to send angels with his kids. When you serve your children, you serve God. When you link into the community called school – you touch the mystery of life.



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I LOVE YOU, MOM – guest post by Leah Crook

Posted by on Dec 8, 2013 in Faith, Life, Love, Remembrance | 12 comments

flickr alan dow #2


Four words. I love you, Mom. I hold on to each one as all twenty-five years of him slip through the airport doors. My adventurous son. Capable and kind. How I love him.
Before heading home, I sit behind the wheel of my car, trying to see him at his destination – it’s impossible, it’s unknown, it’s not a place I understand. I hope for rain, turn the key and take the road ahead of me.
I choose grace. I choose faith.
It’s true what they say, you’ll wonder where the time went. It was just yesterday when…
And time turns around until he’s twelve, ten, eight, six, four…
I trace his footprint back to when it fit in the palm of my hand. In the middle of October, a storm rages – pouring down. The streets flood with anticipation, he takes cover beneath my heart for just a few more hours.
Early morning opens up with quiet moments – giving way to fierce anxiety. The strain of giving birth begins. Truly unprepared. Indescribable. With each excruciating pain of labor, my heart pounds to the beat of a completely new day – the day my son is born.
He brings me out of shallow places. In the very last hour, I name him Michael, and a million I love you’s are on the way.
The wheels on the highway turn with my thoughts…
I watch from white sand as he braves the waves at three… and delights over snow-cone flavors at six. Peppermint candy passes his lips as he carries a fish home from the lake in a bucket.
I let go of his hand as he enters a classroom for the first time… I feel my head press against the door, and I hear him cry on the other side. I see my hand where the blue paint is chipping… I hold on, and I let go.
I’ll do that countless times.
Motherhood is sweet – even when it’s terrifying.
Seasons pass and bring a brother to cherish, friends to meet, ties to tie, girls to love, and cars to drive. There are dreams to chase and planes to catch…
Motherhood is a whole lot of holding on… and letting go.
A few drops fall from the hot summer sky. I press play on a favorite song – I feel my shoulders drop, let go of my breath and take in the lyrics.


Let your heart sweetheart, be your compass when you’re lost
And you should follow it wherever it may go
When it’s all said and done, you can walk instead of run
‘Cause no matter what you’ll never be alone
Never be alone
Lady Antebellum – Compass

My mood shifts, from heavy to light. Because some words do that – they take you from one place to another.
I love you, Mom.
At twelve, ten, eight, six, four…
This morning, while the sun waits to rise, I drive. Through the known and the unknown. Through fear, anxiety, happiness, joy, freedom, failure, and victory.
I move back, I move forward, I move over.
I hold on… and I let go.
I imagine all the mothers in the world. New mothers, scared mothers, old mothers, brave mothers. Navigating roads – with kids in their cars, kids in their arms, kids in their hearts. Loving children, big and small.
Some of us are still learning when to hold on, and when to let go.
It’s an incredible journey – I’m honored to take.
Let go of fear, hold on to faith.



Leah Crook has graciously contributed to this space twice before. You can read her last post HERE . Please join me in thanking Leah for sharing her tender heart with us today.

Visit Leah at

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