The Guest List

I’ve long held that a wedding comes about because of what happens during the relationship of the bride and groom. The event itself reflects what the journey has been to that point. The people involved are already part of the story. Do you notice how we don’t attend weddings of strangers? . . . .

I’m hanging out over at the Magnifications Devotional Blog today. Go check out the rest of the story and dip your toes into John 2 with me.

With-Drawing Inward

I’m not a quiet person. . .ahem.

Those who know me well have just stopped laughing to continue reading.

I’m not a quiet person because I really enjoy life. I like noise and color and people and experiences. Fireworks are my favorite thing, and I watch them like a little child seeing them for the first time, every single time they explode. I mean, FIREWORKS, People! They explode and they are shiny. Hello!

As I’ve anticipated Lenten season this year, I find myself getting quiet. I’m withdrawing and pulling in my edges. My too loud, too big personality (which I hold without reservation) wants to be still for a bit. This is a little unsettling. I don’t handle silence within myself very well, but I’m really trying to listen to my heart just now. I’m trying to savor life as it comes to me instead of rushing the process. When you rush, you burn the onions and you miss the subtle hints. There is goodness to be gleaned from sitting still by yourself without so much noise in your head.

The next 40-ish days will bring me opportunities to sit still because, this time around, I’m glad to take them. I’m going to look at this quiet rising up in me and see what it’s trying to say. I’m going to listen with softer ears and more acceptance when my heart says, “Be still.” I’m probably going to go a little ‘round the bend in the process. My head is a busy place. I struggle with anxiety because there is so much I want/need/hope to accomplish everyday. People sometimes marvel at how I can handle a room full of children all sugared-up and rowdy. The truth is the wild ones are my people. I’m that chatty girl with a story to tell, a new friend to find and games to play. Let the wild rumpus begin!*

Here’s where you come in, Dear Reader and Friend. I needed to tell you about my withdrawing and my closed mouth because that brings accountability. For a long time, I believed that many spiritual practices had to play out in secret or they lose their value. Sure, there are things we still need to experience alone with our God. But there are also things we need to tell, even in a whisper, so our faith community can help carry the load or point back to the way. I need you to honor my quiet since it is so different from my normal. I need you to let me carry some load for you, in return. This family thing only works if we all play team, right?

So, what is this season of life and faith doing for you? Head for the comment section and speak up. We are listening and we are praying. Where is holy love taking you right now?

*from Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. Max in his wolf costume might be my spirit-animal. Wink!

When Even Prayer Feels Tumultuous

I spent one fast-paced Summer living in St. Louis learning about mission work and true ministry. That was right after my Freshman year of college, when I saw the world wide-eyed and beautiful. Every broken thing that caught my attention became a tool that shaped me. I make no pretense that my fleeting weeks gave me special knowledge of an area so racked by racial divides it boggles the mind, but I can tell you that I felt it. And that is saying something because I grew up in Louisiana where race relations are like navigating foreign countries with no guides and no proper language.

I’ve taken several trips to Mexico and walked dirty streets that turned into living room floors. I’ve held onto “taxi van” seats, white-knuckled and cringing, along island roads to the villages where tourists don’t go in the Caribbean. I have seen what poverty, cyclical family dysfunction and desperation will drive young people to because of one glimpse for a better life. I don’t know their pain, their worry or their fears any better for having seen these things. But I have seen the struggle of immigration from more than one side. It is not exactly pretty in either direction. Sometimes hope comes through scratching and clawing, instead of on clouds of dreaming.

Praying. Praying. Praying. I know the right thing is to go back to the Words, to the heart of what is true and good. My beautiful and powerful God sees all of this and He desires peace for His created beloveds. So I open my mouth and my heart to pray. I think I want to ask for peace, for reconciliation. These seem like the right things to say. Somehow they feel empty, or confused. The prayers are winding like twisted winds that aren’t sure where to blow. The depth of fear and sadness on every side of these difficult, messy human connections we are living turn my heart in all the directions at once.

Go back to what I know. Start on solid ground and count the stops slowly. I know Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.

I know I have two hands that can work, lead and shape. Keep working.

I have space in my heart to hold vigil for the broken. Hold space.

I know the Holy Spirit has not abandoned us. Embrace it.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” (John 14:26-28 ESV)

Do you see, Dear Ones? The whole of Heaven’s Trinity is working for our good. The one who intercedes for our broken souls has taken our case to the Father of Life, and their Holy Spirit has been sent to point us away from fear and trouble. I do not know how to make peace, but I know the One who does is listening to our cries. I will trust in that today. I will wake up again tomorrow in our tumultuous world and choose to trust once more. Surely solid steps toward the Peacemaker will lead us all Home.

How do you set your anchor in difficult times, Friends?

Guest Post with Preston Yancey

Today, I bring you the words of my dear Friend, Preston Yancey. He has delicious things for your heart and your belly. Go ahead and click the link to his forthcoming book, Tables in the Wilderness, when you finish reading here. You will NOT regret one second of that.

when faith is a circle and our tables confessionals

I get asked a lot about why I wrote a memoir at twenty-five. Some of this has to do with a confusion of genre. Autobiography is the telling of your own story, biography someone else doing that for you. Thing is, autobiography and biography assumes you’re an interesting person. Memoir does not. Memoir in the classic sense is a confessional. It is a this happened to me, but it’s happened to you, too, I suppose. In the Christian tradition, it’s an exaltation of the coming to Faith or the uncoming of Faith and the coming together again.

I wrote one of those. I wrote one of those coming together coming apart coming together again kinds of things. It’s more a story of God than a story of me, perhaps more a story of you than a story of me. What’s exceptional in every story in this world is God. God in miracle makes Godself known to us all the time, shows up in the midst of us and surprises us with the ways in which God wills us and honors us and delights in us. So I wrote a story about that, about how God keeps spinning in and out of a life or a life in and out of God.

My faith is a circle. Yours may be too.

It runs far from the edges of God and then back to them and then back again and then again.
From my book:

During Christmas Vigil and Easter Vigil in liturgical churches, a significant portion of the service is given to a collection of several readings from the Bible. The stories weave together to tell a broad perspective of the plan of God’s redemption from garden to resurrection.

I think of this as a gesture toward preserving the collective memory. We pass the stories on for the days when we forget, for the days when we are uncertain, for the middle-of-the-night moments when we think it impossible that God should be made man or that God should die and then rise again.

For the times of silence.

Do I steward it well? In the pause before the babe-cry that rings out of Bethlehem or the glory of the Lord that overtakes the soldiers at the empty tomb? In the breath-moment of terra uncertain. Do I hold on to the stories I have been given? Do I remember to pass them down?

Maybe that’s what this is.

One of my best friends emailed me a few days ago about the Bible. He told me he thought that the reason why it was so cyclical, the same stories over and over again with different characters each time, was because the point was in remembering the feel of it. We retell the same stories so that we don’t forget what it feels like to be a people wandering in the desert, searching for a promised land. We retell the same stories so that we don’t forget what it feels like to be a people who were once called Not a People and have now been called by God.

I think of this as I try to write the past. I think of how I must have leached the emotion out of some fragments of the stories for the sake of being able to put them down. I am trying to remember how it felt to live them for the first time. Somehow I catch myself thinking of it like I think of Scripture, the cyclical retelling, and I marvel at how little we must change between the centuries, how in the end we’re all still searching for a Kingdom that is not of this world, how we are so desperate to be known, to be called.

I could tell you a lot of things, but can I tell you this? Faith is a circle and when we sit around tables together we confess it to one another, over and over, and if the stories stay the same they stay the same. The point is they remind us. The keep us in the memory of God. So the next time you sit around a table, pause, remember. For a moment share the mystery of being alive.

Preston Book

Oh, and, have some chicken. This is one of my favorite recipes and, if you preorder my book and email the proof of purchase, I’ll send this recipe along with nine others to you. My gift to you. My thanks to you. One of my ways of remembering to you.

Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk

A few years ago, The Kitchn blog declared Jamie Oliver’s chicken in milk to be the best chicken recipe they ever prepared. I happen to agree with them. Having roasted chickens as a staple for years now, I was curious about what was so great about this particular preparation when nothing can compare to the taste of olive oil and butter slathered poultry after a proper roast. But this recipe is a step above and beyond the usual fair and is interesting enough and different enough to surprise guests. Or, if you’re like me, it’s the perfect kind of thing to eat in bed, whole, dunking big chunks of crusty bread into the impossibly savory broth that forms during the roast.

Adjustments have been made here from the original recipe, based on advice from The Kitchn when it ran the feature and some of my own suggestions after having made it numerous times. I will tell you now that the first time you make it, you will have strong doubts about it’s outcome because the lemon and milk are temperamental and you’ll fear curd. Persevere. The end result is a buttery, beautiful dream that is sumptuous and scented with Moroccan and French tastes. I have restored the use of butter instead of olive oil—Oliver recently updated the recipe to make it healthier, the nerve!—because the butter makes the flesh of the chicken a brilliant crackling. Also, since the butter does not go back into the pan but is used to sear the flesh before roasting, I recommend saving the butter to use in mashed potatoes or something of the like. The flavor it picks up from the chicken’s flesh is amazing and it leaves potatoes with a mild, meaty taste that doesn’t conform to the usual suspect of bacon.
Serves 6 with many sides, serves 4 reasonably


•a whole chicken, about 3 lbs
•Freshly ground black pepper
•1 stick of butter
•2 cinnamon sticks
•bunch of fresh sage, stemmed
•zest of 2 large lemons
•6 cloves of garlic, skin left on
•2 cups whole milk

To Make
1.Preheat your oven to 375 F.

2.In a Dutch oven over medium heat, melt the butter. Take your chicken, clean it, and then season well with salt and pepper all over. Sear in the butter, turning it over a few times, until the skin is golden and succulent. Remove from heat, place chicken on a plate, and drain the butter into a bowl to use in potatoes. Do not rinse the Dutch oven. You want all that sticky, gooey beauty at the bottom of the pan to flavor the broth.

3.Put the chicken back into the pot breast-side up, covering it with the remaining ingredients. Don’t fret over the garlic—once cooked, the skin will give way and the garlic will melt out, perfect to slather on bread. I pour the milk over the chicken to bring on a sweetness to the skin, but there’s not much beyond that in terms of care with what you place inside. Just get it all in. Cover and place in the oven.

4.Roast for 1 hour then remove the lid and allow to finish roasting another 30 minutes, basting it once every ten minutes if you can manage it, once half-way through if you can’t.

5.When you pull the roaster out, you’ll notice the lemon has split the milk making a jelly-curd like sauce. This is a very good thing. Serve the bird in the center of a table, pulling the meat from the bone and onto plates, some of the sauce drizzled over.


Preston BioPreston Yancey is a lifelong Texan raised Southern Baptist who fell in love with reading saints, crossing himself, and high church spirituality. He now makes his home within the Anglican tradition. He is a writer, painter, baker, and speaker. An alumnus of Baylor University, Preston completed a masters in theology from St. Andrews University in Scotland before returning to the States. He currently lives with his wife, Hilary, in Waco, Texas. Preorder Preston’s new book, Tables in the Wilderness: A Memoir of God Found, Lost, and Found Again here. Find him on Twitter or at his blog.

9 Inches of Hair and the Year of Doing

It’s been too long. I’ve missed this space, this place for us to share and chat. Life in the last few months got busy and pushed out my writing voice. . .or at least my writing time. The months have been filled with good things, good people and good work, though. I’ll be telling you more about them in the next few weeks.

Today, I came back to this space to tell you about fulfilling a life-goal. It’s a small one, but big in my heart.

I have always had very long hair. I can’t remember ever having short hair, and I spent childhood hours terrorizing my Mother while she tried to comb and tame these tresses. My hair is also pretty curly. Many Saturday nights involved sponge rollers and Shirley Temple ringlets for church on Sunday morning. I’ve mostly ignored my hair through life. There was that one spiral perm in high school because we found a great deal. It is no inexpensive feat to spiral perm hair this long. Seriously, bless my Mother and all her patience.


Ponytails and tightly curled buns were my primary hairstyles. I like low maintenance. After graduating college, I eventually learned you can have long hair that is flattering if you’re willing to give up a few inches once in a while. I started getting layers and face-framing shape cut into my hair and then I started to really love my hair. We became friends. Women know this strange roller-coaster journey of moving from owning a body part or feature to actually loving a body part or feature. My plain brown hair became the beauty I depended on for many things. I don’t fit that fashion mold of petite women who are dainty and beautiful. I fall squarely into “cute” on my best days. Becoming friends with my hair allowed me to have the first bit of courage in owning who I am physically.

Then it became a shield.

Through all the ups and downs of body image and self-esteem, I depended on my hair to get me through. It’s the only feature I truly loved and could say to the mirror on my worst days, “Well, at least my hair is kind of pretty. The rest will have to make do.” I hid behind that false courage and allowed it to stand in for really liking who I am as a person. It took a long time to figure out what I done to myself. It took friendships with all kinds of beautiful, courageous women and it took meeting a sweet man who teaches me how to truly own worth in what I have. It took looking in the mirror with different, softer eyes more often.

This week, I cut off 9 inches of that beloved hair and mailed it away to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths organization. I thought I would stop breathing for a minute, or at least cry a little. Let’s be honest, everything makes me cry a little. But there was nothing. No sadness, no second-guessing. The giving was a gift. I’ve been building up to this day for a long time.


When I first heard about organizations like Locks of Love, I thought to myself, “I should do that. I have a ton of hair.” I never could work up the courage to make it happen, though. I was too in love with my hair and too dependent on hiding behind it for a bit of strength. I’d plan to make the donation and chicken out every time. Lots of things in my heart have been changing for the better lately. . .for a little while, really. As 2013 wrapped up, and I thought about how I wanted to go into the next year, I heard the question that I ask myself all the time. “Dana, what are you doing?”

When things fall silent, these are the words that come up. Usually with an exasperated, accusing tone. Sometimes with impatience. I question my lack of doing all the things I dream about and sit in the waiting as if that’s good enough. This year, I made a commitment to doing. I made that my theme word. I’m going to catch myself asking the impatient question and stop it’s breath with my doing. Desire leads to plans, leading to information and decisions, and we end up in the hair salon with a ponytail in a plastic bag. We end up feeling light, and beautiful and a tiny bit more whole for following through with a promise to ourselves.


What are you doing that you’ve been waiting on for too long, Friend?

Words and Stories Matter, Week Three of Parenting FAITHfully

Thursday is going to host a little series for a few weeks. I’m leading a Growth Group at Maury Hills Church, titled “Parenting FAITHfully,” and it’s all about spiritual formation for families. To help keep the group connected to each other and to the wide world of incredible resources out there, I’ll be sharing each week’s notes and some links to good stuff on Thursdays.

Please join us! We want you to feel welcome whether you’re attending the group or not. Comment, ask questions or share a thought. And please, please feel free to share this series with other parents who have hearts for the faith of their children. This week’s group discussion was so, so good. I wish you, reader, could have been there. When people start talking about the words and stories that impact their lives great things take shape.

There are TWO “Good Stuff” sections this week. The resources from class are in a section below the notes, just keep reading and you’ll see it down below. This section has some great reading and listening to further the conversation about Words and Stories.

Good Stuff
Sara Bareilles, “Brave” music video
Family Advent Devotionals, free download from Environments of Grace blog, This is How We Welcome
A man’s perspective on words and resolving conflict from The Good Men Project
Hawk Nelson, “Words” music video

Words over Time Matter. We use words for everything we do, so what makes them matter so much?

We all have a tendency to underestimate the weight of our words—especially as it relates to the kids and teenagers we care about. The way we see the world is shaped by words we use to express that experience . We are able to see what we know so we can determine how to say it. The book Playing for Keeps tells us, “Research has shown, in order to: think a thought, paint a picture or work a math problem, you need words. Without words—the simplest tools of communication—we are limited.”

If words, inside our heads or outside our mouths, allow us to think, see, and interpret ideas, then they must be a big deal to God. God even started the world with a word. He spoke and it came into being. God created with words, and then took the time to praise with words. By sharing the power of words, by giving us the gift of communication, God gave us a tremendous responsibility. The words we use not only affect what we see, they affect how we influence others to see. “If you want a kid to know they matter, then it matters what words you use when you talk to them and about them.” The words you use can set them up to feel significant, valued, and unique or shove them down to believe they are useless and unimportant. Think about your own experience with others’ words and how your children respond to words? Can you name a time that words impacted your direction in life?

Here’s a simplified formula for how to make Words matter this week:

Learn Another Language—expand your vocabulary. If you want to give kids a faith language to understand, an emotional language to help them and more language to increase reasoning, then you need to learn more yourself. Figure out how to communicate with the audience of your children.
Weigh What You Say—Take the time to choose better words when it matters most. 4 tips: Write them out; Be specific to the child; Remember the basics, the things we all need to hear and say; Let them talk.
Recycle Big Ideas—take advantage of other wise people and use words that will be consistent throughout your child’s experiences. You don’t have to think of every important word to say on your own.

What are some of the most important messages you want to communicate over time to the kids in your circle of influence? Write them down.

Stories over Time matter. Why do all kids need stories from grandparents, fiction and the Bible?

Our brains are wired to respond to stories. Writers and scientists will both tell you that things start happening in the human mind when we engage one another through storytelling. Stories are one of the first and primary ways children learn to empathize with other people or begin to imagine a future life for themselves. Think about it.

If we didn’t have imaginations, we could understand what life was like 50 years before our birth. We couldn’t understand what it feels like to do or be something different than our own experience, and we definitely couldn’t comprehend how a burning talks or what it was like to meet Jesus in person. God gave us our imaginations so we could connect with bigger and better ideas than what we already know. Stories ignite our imaginations and open up possibilities for our future identities. Don’t you want to help your children paint a picture of faith for their adult lives that is bigger, more sacrificial, wider and full of experiences they can only imagine today? Then you need to engage them in stories.

In the book, God of the Fairy Tale, Jim Ware shares a conversation that C.S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien had one night about the power of stories to reveal truth. They discuss how the word “tree” can never be as majestic as an actual tree is in real life, but we use the word as a symbol of the real thing. All stories in the world can be a symbol of THE REAL STORY, the one true story that completes all of life. The next time you read a book, watch a movie, see a play, look at art or write a poem think about how they are symbols of a truer thing.

Here’s a simplified formula for how to engage your children in Stories because they matter:

Discover the Arts—Find a story, a song, a poem, a place together and talk about how it echoes The Story.
Capture the Storyline—Look for ways to record and re-tell your stories. When you capture a memorable story and repeat it over time, it becomes part of your child’s identity.
Get in the Action—Think like an author and create experiences for your child to have that will develop who they are becoming. They need to experience both success and failure to become the kind of main character that continues to engage with the world.

Write down a story that redefined how you see the world or how you feel about faith. Make a list of stories you want to share with your children or create with your family to redefine what they see. Make it happen!

Good Stuff</strong
Jesus Calling, if you follow the link you will see all the age groups for this book
The “Know God” devotional for young students
Miss Dana’s favorite Children’s Bible, from Zondervan
Kids’ Daily Reading Bible from Karen Henley, which also had a devotional companion book

Love Matters, Week Two of Parenting FAITHfully

Thursday is going to host a little series for a few weeks. I’m leading a Growth Group at Maury Hills Church, titled “Parenting FAITHfully,” and it’s all about spiritual formation for families. To help keep the group connected to each other and to the wide world of incredible resources out there, I’ll be sharing each week’s notes and some links to good stuff on Thursdays.

Please join us! The discussions in the first class were so fun and sweet. We want you to feel welcome whether you’re attending the group or not. Comment, ask questions, share a thought or whatever. And please, please feel free to share this series with other parents who have hearts for the faith of their children.

Good Stuff
More good things came from the book Playing for Keeps, which you can purchase here.
Russ shared a video in class about a child looking for structure, which you can watch here.
A Mom’s prayer for grace when intentionality feels like too much, Addie Zierman
One creative way to capture love in your home this holiday season, Environments of Grace

This week, we discussed why Love Matters. We know it’s important, and we work hard to show our kids love daily. If we as Christians believe God created love, that means all beings are created to need love, to desire intimacy and are wired to connect with others. Nobody would argue those things aren’t true about human beings. But even though we know this truth, we focus on the wrong things. We look at love through a narrow filter and try to focus on details. The Pharisees are a good example of this. They weren’t villains. They went to temple, they tried to learn the rules, they prayed and studied. . .but they got so lost focusing on these minor things that they forgot to focus on the bigger picture of really loving others.

God used love over time to prove to us that His love was unconditional and predictable. What if the children in your life had people who were proving over time, again and again and again, that your love doesn’t stop and it isn’t conditional on who they are or what they do. What kind of person would they become? Imagine the future of a child and let it impact how you invest in them now.

Most research will tell you kids need to learn how to love themselves and others, by being loved, while they are young because it has a lasting impact on their self-worth throughout adulthood. Think about the moments in your life when you weren’t convinced you were loved by someone you thought should prove it. We can’t protect our children from every moment like that in life, but we can surround them with people who absolutely love them and will fight for their hearts by proving their love over and over again.

Love also requires structure. Rules are a way of loving our kids because rules keep them safe and guide them away from dangerous choices or opportunities. God first showed love to His people with long lists of rules that evolved through time and were fulfilled by Christ’s coming. Jesus showed us all a new way to follow rules that keep us safe and love each other well at the same time.

In Sacred Parenting, Gary Thomas offers the idea parents might be thinking about love the wrong way. “We spend so much time talking about the ‘how-to’ of parenting that we neglect the equally important ‘why’ of parenting. . .Paul gives us a very clear ‘why’ in 2 Corinthians 7:1” Dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. “We must see parenting as a process through which God purifies us–the parents–even as he shapes our children. . .A child-centered parent bases his or her actions on the kids’ response. A God-centered parent, on the other hand, acts out of reverence for God. Regardless of how my children treat me, I know that God wills that I move toward my children, to get engaged in their lives, offer biblical correction and loving support.” When we change our mindset to think about loving others, especially our children, as part of our reverence and worship toward God, how we love can be drastically different.

Here’s a simplified formula for how to begin making Love Matter now:

Show Up—you need to be in their lives predictably at consistent times they can depend on, randomly when they don’t expect you but need you and with structure (those important rules).
Know Them—knowing a kid isn’t like learning a mathematic formula. The information is fluid. Do what it takes to know the character of your children, not just their current favorites list (although, that doesn’t hurt either).
Never Run Away—people are messy. Things will happen that frustrate you, gross you out or drive you crazy. Kids will make mistakes. If you keep loving them through those messy places, they will learn it’s okay to be human and that you are sticking around to see them through the mess.

Take some time to think about the people who have loved you well and proved it over and over again. Write down a list of how they showed you. Now make a list of how you can love your children well and prove it to them over time. Join us next week to learn about how Words Matter in the lives of children.

Time Matters, or Week One of Parenting FAITHfully

Hey, Friends!

Thursday is going to host a little series for a few weeks. I’ve begun leading a Growth Group at Maury Hills Church, titled Parenting FAITHfully, and it’s all about spiritual formation for families. To help keep the group connected to each other and to the wide world of incredible resources out there, I’ll be sharing each week’s notes and some links to good stuff on Thursdays.

Please join us! The discussions in the first class were so fun and sweet. We want you to feel welcome whether you’re attending the group or not. Comment, ask questions, share a thought or whatever. And please, please feel free to share this series on the blog with other parents who have hearts for the faith of their children.

Good Stuff
There are tons of articles, videos, blogs, books and resources for making Time Matter. Check out some of these to get started!
Great for working Dads — How to Start Managing Your Time Better Beginning Today
Make Time Matter
Managing Sports and Family Time
Thoughts for next week’s topic — Harvesting Love

The group discussions are centered around 6 key things every child needs while we have the time to influence their lives. The heart of this idea comes from the book Playing for Keeps by Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy. They remind us kids need. . .

and Fun

Poured into their lives over the course of life to help them really develop authentic and lasting, personal faith. Isn’t that every parent trying to raise a child in faith wants? To create and develop a little person with a lasting, personal faith that becomes their very own? This is holy and sacred work to be doing, and the best word we have for it is: parenting.

Let’s talk about time and break down what that actually looks like. In the book, Joiner and Ivy show us that from the week a child is born to the week they graduate from high school we have about 936 weeks to influence that child. Does that seem like a lot? Does it seem like too little? Think about the specific children in your life and how long you have left to shape, guide and influence them. The family resource company, Orange, has created a great app you can download called the Legacy Countdown. Download the app, enter information for each child in your life and start counting.

That gets real. Quick. Are you seeing Time differently now? As you stop hyperventilating and put down the paper bag, let’s talk about what’s next.

Here’s a simplified formula for where to begin making Time matter:

Count it Out—know how long you have and keep up with it. Use the Legacy App, make a chart in your living room, count out M&Ms or marbles and create a physical reference to keep your attention on the time you have.
Measure it Out—look at the time you counted and see where you can be strategic about using it. Make a list of the experiences you want to create for your children and start planning for those opportunities.
Mark it Up—Make real plans. They don’t have to be major projects and events every week, but you can do something influential in each week. One conversation that takes faith out of the abstract and makes it part of daily living is a moment captured in time for faithful influence.

Now, the question is what are you going to do with what we’ve discovered together? It’s your turn to make Time Matter. Join our group next week, or stop by the blog to hear about filling a child’s life with Love over Time.

When Gratitude is Still Elusive

Hello, November! I’ve been waiting for you. I’ve been counting the days in my heart until your good Fall smell and bursts of color arrive. I actually needed you to get here for bigger reasons, though. I need you to teach me again the words and ways of gratitude. They are slipping from my grasp and from my daily living.

Why is it that when I open my heart wider and walk out the hospitality I want to give, life just smacks me in the face. Every feeling, every need, every person that is embraced with this (not enough) humble offering of grace seems to be stretching me further than I am meant to go. I bake out the stress and think of Bilbo with his too little butter spread over too much bread. I know that stretching. I know it’s supposed to be good and holy. Please tell Heaven that I do know, and I receive openly. But could you also come again with your cycle of bright life and wet decay so I can see once more how good is brought about by sacrifice? I need to sit at your feet again, November, and hear the lesson in capturing gratitude so it can be scattered to the needy places.

It is so good for my heart that you return each year, Dear November. Help me walk gracefully again. To number my thankfulness and use that concrete list as a sharpening tool once again. Fill me up with gratitude that is sustaining for so much more than just daily living. As I embrace the chaos of reading all the things, teaching all the good and leading all the children into God’s wild ways, let gratitude be what falls off my lips instead of heavy sighs. Let peace fill my stretching heart instead of worry. Oh, November, let me soak up what you offer to this Kingdom pathway like bread soaked in wine.

I will make a table. A table in my mind that welcomes anyone. A table in the wild that catches the fading light of Fall and honors how decay makes us grow again. Today began with baking the bread that gives Christ’s life to the people of the church. Gratefulness will begin again here.

November 1: I have gratitude for. . .
. . .flour, oil and honey.
. . .seeing my family soon.
. . .good work for my hands.
. . .women who are teaching me to open up again just by arriving.