Leading a Romantic Life When You’re not in a Romance

One of the pleasures of seeking contentment in the season I’m in has been pursuing a romantic life over a life filled with romance.

What does that even mean? Great question!

My evenings are not filled with dates very often, but that does not mean that I need to wait to experience beautiful and exciting things—a thought-trap I think we can fall into when waiting for romantic love.

That’s a lie! Why wait to experience the beauty life has to offer until one is in a relationship?

I cannot tell you the joy I have found in visiting the local botanical gardens with just myself and a journal, in planning vacations with dear friends, in sitting in my favorite hotel lobby with a good book and cup of tea.

I live in a city that begs to be explored and while some of that exploration would be fun to do as a date night, why should I miss out when I find myself alone? Why should any of us.

Pursuing a romantic life means making time for the things that bring me pleasure. It means stopping to enjoy created beauty. It’s exploring the small things that make up a life that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Here’s what this looks like for me:

    • Traveling Europe alongside close friends.
    • Spending an evening in with nothing to do but drink a cup of tea and listen to the poetry of a new record.
    • Taking myself on a coffee date.
    • Doing nothing but read for an entire weekend.
    • Bringing a journal to the local botanical gardens for a morning of prayer and reflection.
    • Driving hours just to go to see my favorite band play in concert.
    • Re-reading my favorite book from childhood each summer
    • Wearing heels and the brightest red lipstick I can find because it makes me feel like an old Hollywood actress.
    • Making last minute plans with a friend to talk about the real stuff over wine.

And it’s not just enjoying what I know I like, but pushing myself to experience the new and different, and maybe slightly uncomfortable. I have plans to take myself out to dinner. I’m starting to dream up a trip to take by myself.

Living a romantic life is participating, not in the life you dreamed of, but the pretty-damn-beautiful life you’ve been gifted. It’s taking note of the glorious and grand in the midst of the minute and mundane.

This has been my adventure and I want to hear about yours. How are you pursuing a romantic life?

Heft and History: Italian Reflections

Walking the streets of Florence, cone of gelato in hand, I was floored yet again. All day we had been wandering from one end of the city to another and every where you turned, the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore was somewhere in sight.

The structure stands multiple stories higher than any other structure in the city, as if keeping watch of the small red-roofed buildings nestled in around her. Walking the Florentine streets, the heft of the building looks impossible—like it’s just an incredibly detailed theatre backdrop.

But that was exactly what Italy was for me—the possible impossibilities that have shaped not only the culture we were visiting, but the culture that shapes all of us now.

Having just returned from Iceland, I was happy with the adventure, but also feeling an itch to see a place with a little more history and possibly some art. One nearly-too-good-to-be-true Groupon Getaway email, a text to a friend, and an Italian vacation was in the works.

Audrey and I had both been to Europe before and were more than excited to live out some chick-flick inspired Italian day dreams. (Her’s was Under the Tuscan Sun, mine was The Lizzie McGuire Movie. What can I say, I’m a woman of refined taste…)  Mostly, we just wanted to see everything we could—art, architecture, food: bring it on!

The view from the castle above San Gimignano. This city influenced a lot of the location of my novel.

Like the cathedral in Florence, I felt the sense of impossibility everywhere. Walking into the Colosseum seemed like a trick to my eyes. Was I actually here? Seeing the orators podium in the forum, standing under the ceiling of the sistine chapel, overlooking San Gimignano from castle walls—it was hard to believe this was all real and not some elaborate set of replicas.

I didn’t hit me until our second-to-last day in the country. We were visiting the Shelly-Keats House beside the Spanish Steps—the house where John Keats lived out his last days. As we listened to a museum employee share some history of the home, I became distracted by the display case right in front of me.

Two scraps of paper were enclosed behind the glass, covered in a scripted handwriting. It might have been exhaustion talking, or relief in surviving the Roman metro system (which was stilly that I feared it because it was one of the easiest public transport systems to navigate), but I began to weep. Openly. Not like sobbing, but there was some streaming involved.

It was a draft of “Lamia” in Keats own hand.

Seeing the artifacts of those who have gone before—the art and history and brilliant minds that have served has the shoulders we stand upon was incredible. My art has directly benefited from Keats’. Keats was directly influenced by the ancient Greek and Roman artists and philosophers whose work we saw at the Vatican the next day. My faith has directly benefited from Paul and Peter, both of whom were martyred in Rome, the capital of Christendom from centuries. It’s all interwoven.

And the fabric of our culture continues to borrow threads from those who came before as one day our threads will be used in large and little ways by those who will follow after us.

People ask what was the most meaningful or moving part of the trip and I think that is it: the heft and history of what we saw.

Book Review: At Home in the World

When trying to hunt for my vacation reads, I was at a loss of what to bring in the non-fiction category. I always bring both a fiction and non-fiction book when I travel. My only requirement is that I have to be able to read it in a distracted state—during airport people-watching, or driving to the next destination.

I discussed my predicament with my friend and boss and she instantly had a title for me. She was on the launch team for Tsh Oxenreider‘s latest release At Home In The World and she could not say enough good things about it.

My friend and her family lived abroad as missionaries for a time and is very well traveled, so with that stamp of approval, I was so down for a good travel memoir.

Tsh’s story is so intriguing to me.

She and her husband made a pact shortly after their third child was born that they were going to take their family on an around-the-world trip once the youngest could carry his own pack. They made good on that promise and Tsh document’s their journey in this fantastic book.

For nine months, the Oxenreider’s ventured through Asia, down to Australia and New Zealand, over to Africa, and then up through Europe. Tsh describes both the adventurous explorations of their trip as well as the everyday things they needed to do to keep their family rolling on their trip—schooling, booking the next leg of the journey, replacing lost flip-flops.

All through the book, she unpacks the tension between feeling wanderlust and the urge to stay home. She is ultimately trying to discover what is home and what does it mean to live in a world we are ultimately told is not our home.

Oh, how I felt her quandary! So often, I’m dreaming up that next trip, but while I am traveling, I often find myself longing for a good book and tea at home. I think about how to capture the place I am in order to bring pieces of it home to my people. I think many of us simultaneously carry the urge to explore and belong.

I so appreciated how Tsh described her predicament post-college and even as a young parent. All of her friends got married, but she didn’t want to because she wanted to see the world. Once she was married with children, she and her husband found that that didn’t take away their wanderlust. They still wanted to venture out and explore the world—just now with children.

I decided I wanted to travel before settling down, but the more places I go, the more places I discover I have yet to see. Travel only brings a desire for more travel. This is something I will probably always desire.

And like Tsh, I will also always desire a cozy night in with an engrossing novel and my wool blanket. This is a tension many of will wrestle and I think Tsh unpacks it well.

Reading this book was like being on the trip alongside them. I was amazed, I cried, I added all sorts of locations to my must-see list and I could not put this book down even though I was in the midst of my own traveling adventure.

You need to add At Home in the World to your summer reading list stat!

The Spinster Abroad


So I think it’s about time I gave you an Iceland post…

If you didn’t know, I went to Iceland a month ago. I realized a week before I left that I had not informed some key people in my world that I was even taking this trip—like my grand parents or even my best friend, which felt like a big relating fail and I’m realizing that I didn’t tell you either.

Kirkjufell (Church Mountain) is one of the most photographed sights on the island. This beaut was situated across from our gorgeous little guesthouse.

So I went to Iceland! Sorry I didn’t tell you  before.

Never have I been to a place so saturated in beauty. I can wax eloquent forever, but I think I’ll just leave it at the thought that never have I felt so small in a place. Between the heft of cliffs and mountains and the never-ending collection of water falls, my eyes and heart were full and I’m forever grateful for the experience.

The true value of the trip came to me while journaling in the sunroom of one of our guest houses mid-trip. See, Iceland was maybe not the ideal location for little-prissy me. But I wanted wonder and I wanted inspiration and a chance to gain back some imaginative real estate. I’m not an avid hiker—I more like a lovely stroll with maybe a steep hill or two. I’m not a risk taker—at least if I am, I like to really think it all through. But this was so worth it and so valuable.

I was journaling in our little guest house across the bay from Kirkjufell after a rainy day of adventures and I was struck by the thought that I was going to be alright.

The Beach in Vik
The Beach in Vik

I mean, on the trip, yes, but also in life. See, I’ve written a lot about taking advantage of this season of singleness and finding contentment where God has placed you, but behind that has always been a fear.

What if this isn’t just a season? If I’m not content now, will I ever be? Is there something wrong with me?

That evening, journaling prayers, God was able to calm these tightly carried anxieties.

My friend and I planned the entire trip start to finish, just the two of us.  We were taking a calculated, but kind of crazy risk being in a remote country alone, but we were here and God was blessing so much of the journey. And we were alright. More than alright—we were having an amazing time.

And it was in that realization that the thought came:

Chillin’ at Gullfoss

If this was going to be my life, it was going to be an alright one. If God’s plan is for it to be just me, myself, and I, the life He has given will not be bad. It will not be without love and relationship. It will not be without adventure or heartache. It will not be a life without purpose. It may be a quiet, small, and maybe nondescript one, but a fine one none the less.

For the first time—and maybe this is an embarrassing confession since I write about this a lot—I felt at peace with where God has placed me. This life isn’t about finding your person or your dream job or ideal body weight. He has so much more waiting for you. There is a life of depth and hope and beauty waiting to be lived when we’re willing to live in trust of His plan.

So, maybe this isn’t a post about Iceland, but rather about what I got to bring back with me.


Friday Favorites: April 2016

April Favorites

Something to try: Austin, TX

Earlier this month, a co-worker and I got to go to Austin for a conference. The conference was great, but we also loved getting to explore the city at night. So many quirky shops and great food trucks (food trucks!!!!), I was pretty much in heaven.
I’m looking forward to a girls weekend trip there soon.

Austin at dusk. I snapped this photo while racing across Congress Bridge to avoid watching the bat colony below fly out. I failed. Bats are gross.
Austin at dusk. I snapped this photo while racing across Congress Bridge to avoid watching the bat colony below fly out. I failed. Bats are gross. The capital in the distance is cool though!

Something to click: MOCKINGBIRD

This online magazine has been great source for thoughtful and intelligent discussion. I’ve been really impressed by the diverse voices and great writers that make up the content here. These folks tackle philosophy, current events, literature, Netflix…ya know, the important things.
Check out some of my favorites over the past few weeks here, here, here, and here.

Something to read: SURPRISED BY OXFORD

In my quarter-life crisising, I’ve been playing with the idea of starting a masters. Most of that was inspired by this wonderful memoir. Carolyn Weber recounts her first year of grad school at Oxford University—where she just so happened to encounter Christ. Equal parts thoughtful, funny, and just downright smart, I could not put this book down. And am still trying to figure out if I could get into Oxford…on someone else’s dime. (Or quid, as it were.)

Something to watch:Upstairs Neighbors

If you’re living in a small apartment with loud neighbors, this is what is happening. Glad YouTube could solve the mystery for you.

Something to listen to: LORD HURON

This was one of the best concerts I’ve been to. Saw them in October and am still geeking over it.
I’ve been hearing their music everywhere as of late and they are on the roster for all the major festivals this year, and yet so many people I know have not heard of them.
The band’s front man is telling a multi-medium story through not only the music, but music videos and even a comic book. Such brilliant artistry and just plain great music.

Postcards from Camichines Part V: Trust Exercises

I don’t know if you’ve ever flown Aero Mexico before, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you absolutely have to.

We arrived at the airport with very little time to spare, waited in line for about an hour, and at last got our boarding passes. I needed three. Only one of mine printed. And my ticket was changed to stand by.

Waiting in line in Guadalajara

I looked to the man at the desk, trying not to look panicked.

“It’s fine,” he told me, crossing out the STB with a Sharpie. “You will get your seat assigned at the gate.”

I nodded lamely and turned to rush through security.

Our team arrived at the gate to find they were holding the plane for us… since the ten of us made up nearly a third of the flight. We were handing over our passes one by one. When the woman at the counter got to me she stopped me.

“You’re standby. You have to wait. We have a flight at 10, one at 4:30 and another at 8:00 tonight.”

I looked wide-eyed between her and our trip leader, a faint roaring in the back of my mind. I didn’t want to be stuck in a Mexican airport alone! Good grief, my Spanish is terrible and I didn’t know what I would do by myself in a foreign country.

The leader explained to her that the printer at the check-out counter had broken and that my ticket wasn’t supposed to have been changed. He told me that he and I would switch if we had to. I nodded, trying to blink back tears. (I cry. It’s annoying and happens at the drop of a hat due to any strong emotion such as HOLY-CRAP-I-COULD-GET-LEFT-HERE-IN-A-MEXICAN-AIRPORT scared. Not thrilled  by it, but it’s what I do.)

With a minute to spare before take-off, I was given a seat on a plane the size of a test tube in front of and beside some of our team members.

We flew from Guadalajara to Monterrey and found we had to go through security again. This time, the woman checking our boarding passes did not speak English. She was very disgruntled that my pass was for Monterrey and no further. I showed her the bar code for my luggage was labeled for Grand Rapids, but wasn’t sure how to explain that I needed other passes.

After a rather tragic attempt of a few of us to mime this, she begrudgingly motioned for me to follow her to who-knows-where. I looked to the rest of the team, disapointed that this was not going to be simple and once again frightened.

I followed the security woman silently through strange hallways. I tried once more not to cry. The lump in my throat bulged as I realized that this walk was awkward, but I could barely make small talk with her if I tried. Not unless we wanted to talk about her favorite color or the time or how much something costs or where the bathroom was. I felt so helpless and confused. Desperate, even. Not to mention, I really had to pee.

Saying goodbye to Mexico

I looked to the woman in her stiff grey suit and her stern expression as she looked straight ahead of us. She was probably in no mood to take a bathroom stop on our way to wherever.

We emerged at the front of the Monterrey airport. She motioned for me to stay put in the check in line as she brought my one and only boarding pass up to the man working there. They talked back-and-fort in rapidly whirring Spanish of which I only got snippets.

I looked up at the giant Delta logo mounted to the marble wall behind the desk.

God, just get me back in that terminal and home. Get me out of this country, I pleaded.

Do you trust me? The words felt like a small echo in my chest. I had felt them there all week.

I am in no mood to play trust exercises, God, I just want to get back to the team and home!

I took deep breaths, trying not to sob in front of the line of spring-breakers behind me.

This is what travelling alone would be like, I realized. I want to travel, I have to get used to this. I began to take inventory of myself.

I am okay. Things are getting worked out, I will be with everyone again shortly. I have plenty of time to get to the gate and visit a bathroom before I would have to board. Everything was fine. Not what I would have planned, but fine.

I looked upward and nodded. Alright, I trust you.

The security woman came to where I was in line. Handing me my boarding pass, she told me in heavily accented English, “You wait. He help.”

“Gracias.” I nodded, feeling relieved.

My first sight of snow upon returning
to Michigan

Upon getting to the check-in counter, I was able to get the rest of my boarding passes and was even upgraded to an emergency exit row for my trouble.

I was fine. I was safe. I was headed home.

It struck me how simple the morning was, but how quick I was to jump to the worst possible scenario. I am becoming more and more aware of how badly I am at taking things in stride. God has taken care of me thus far and he has promised to continue to do so.

I arrived back in Grand Rapids without any trouble and have begun adjusting back to life at home and at work.

My week in Mexico was a beautiful experience that I will forever cherish. God was at work and it was wonderful to experience that with his people in his creation.

Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement. Your intercession on our behalf was so necessary and I know I speak for the rest of the team when I say thank you.

Here’s to the next adventure,

Postcards from Camichines Part IV: The Work of Beautiful Hands

It’s been so fun working in the school throughout our workday. On Tuesday, I got to work with a reading group of third grade boys. So much fun! Yesterday, I taught a writing lesson for the fifth and sixth grade kids. We learned about dialogue and action tags vs. dialogue tags. It was so fun and their energy was contagious. Their excitement for learning and for life and for each other has made this week a blast.

Learning sign language!

One of our awesome team members has a gift for sign language. She has translated for a few years in our worship services and has been down here teaching the kids some signs to go with some worship songs. They have been so excited, asking her about additional signs throughout the week.

Today, those of us working in the courtyard were called into the classroom during their music time. They wanted to show us what they had been working on all week.

They sang ‘Our God is an Awesome God’ and signed along with it.

I began crying halfway through. This was it. This was why we were here. This is why Ranchito con Esperanza exists. Seeing those kids so excited to sing and sign–showing us what they had been learning and worshiping at the same time–it was so beautiful.

These kids have been rescued and are being raised in this home that they may one day go out and be game changers in the name of Jesus Christ. That is a powerful vision.

Me attempting to get some sun in the middle of the corn pile.

Our team has been discussing how easy it can be to get caught up in the mentality of our tasks or discouraged by the monster pile of corn. (The new monster pile of corn, mind you. This one we have to go through kernel by kernel.) It’s these kind of moments that give a glimpse of what it’s all for.

Hebrews 11 talks about the great men and women of the Old Testament who put their faith in God, looking forward to the coming of Christ and never getting to taste that vision in their time. Our team is down here for a week. Such a small blip in the operations of this place and in the lives of these kids.

These barrels of corn should make a years worth of tortillas.
(The best tortillas ever, at that!)

But this work needs to be done. Even what we’re doing with the corn. By husking and sifting and sorting, we are helping them prepare and store the corn that will make tortillas for the next year. In very small, and seemingly insignificant ways, we are laying just a stone to help build the reality of the vision that has been cast for this ministry. But hopefully God will allow our stone to be build upon further.

Seeing these kids sing to Jesus, both with mouth and hands was a wonderful picture of what we want to help Ranchito con Esperanza strive for. We want to see this ministry build these kids up in faith so that they may in turn build up communities for Jesus in the future.

This week has been such a beautiful glimpse of the father. My heart is full. These children, this team, and this beautiful place are all more than I could have ever asked for. I am so grateful for the impact these people have made on my heart and am excited to see what God shall do with this place in the coming months and years.

In His name,

Postcards from Camichines Part III: Flexibility

Plans are nice. I really like plans and to-do lists and knowing what’s up before it happens.

That’s not how things work down here.
So these posts are not going to be live. The wireless is not as plentiful here as previously described. Which is actually become one of my favorite parts of the week so far–being unplugged and off the grid. Everyone on our team is focused on our tasks and each other and our time with God rather than what may or may not be going on at home. (Although there are three of us down here that have missed the Bachelor finale and I’m dying to know if Juan Pabs chose Crazy or Clueless to be his awfully wedded wife!)
Actually, a lot of things have not been a previously expected.
Turns out, there is a dress code down here which has limited my limited wardrobe significantly. Also, even though there is a lot of work to be done here, it is not plentiful as I expected.
So we’ve all had to learned to adjust. 
And it is so good! Seriously, the slower pace, the lack of distraction over my wardrobe–I am learning a ton through this week and we’re barely at the half-way point.
Taking a break for drinks and shade
I have written previously about my struggle with clothing and significance. This week has just revealed to me more how much stock I put into that still. There have been few moments in which I have felt ‘lovely’ or smelled like something resembling that this week as we work in the heat and dust and chaff. I showered last night only to discover dust still in my ears and the fact that I forgot q-tips.

This grimy shirt and these sweaty jeans and this unexpected down-time are teaching me a lot about my brokenness and the way I have been living my life as of late. These things are all manifestations of my desire for more. My desire to serve myself.
Down here, I am learning not to care what I look like because honestly, it has not changed this experience at all. In fact, I can tell you that I’ve probably had a better time without the distraction of ‘being cute’. I’m more useful in these re-worn clothes then I would have been in the running shorts and tank-tops I had planned to wear. I have been able to dive into any messy task–hefting bricks, sifting corn, working in dust and not being concerned for the safety of my skin or the state of my clothing. I just am. It’s nice. Freeing, actually.
As far as the work goes, I came down here geared up for non-stop work all week long. In reality, it’s been a lot of hurry up and wait. Not because there isn’t work to be done, but because there are somethings here that are more important. When a task is finished, there may not be supplies for the next one yet, or someone else must complete their task before we can start the next thing. 
There is also more of an emphasis on relationships rather than getting things done a quickly as possibly. Earlier, the guys went to pick up some equipment from a man in the village. The director of the home began talking with a man from the village that was loaning said equipment. Before the guys knew it, the director left to buy a bottle of Pepsi for their small little group to enjoy as they chatted.

I finished with a task this morning and was approached by a couple of the little guys to read a book. We spent yesterday afternoon playing with the kids on the swing-set rather than continuing with the corn (so much corn!!!)

Story-time with a couple new buddies
It’s weird. And beautiful. Everything has been getting done quickly, but we have also been given time to enjoy one another and relax. I’ve been exhausted at the end of the day, but never stressed. I feel really healthy down here and that’s been nice.
I need to be more flexible and this week has been a wonderful exercise in that. I’ve been thinking of ways to incorporate some of this feeling into my regular life. If any of you have been able to do this, please let me know. I am loving this simplicity!

God has been so good and we’ve barely reached that half-way mark. I am loving this place. Also, tomorrow I’m teaching a writing class–super pumped for this!


Postcards from Camichines Part II: The Week’s Plumb Line

So what are we doing here?

I am not asking the existential question I was yesterday. I am actually trying to answer this question.

I can’t tell you how many times people have asked me in the last couple weeks, “so what are you going to be doing down there?” The problem lies in that the answer was, “I don’t really know. A little construction. Working with kids. Something about corn… yeah…”

Alright, so here’s the biz:

Made some AWESOME orange juice after writing this post on the rooftop.
Seriously, this is the best way to start the morning.

There are eleven of us down here in a village outside Guadalajara. We are working at an orphanage and plan to complete whatever tasks they can throw at us. Right now, there is a monster pile of corn to be husked, a chicken coop in need of constructing and a school roof top that will eventually be transformed in to a second story. It seems like a lot and this is our first workday. 

It’s hard to call this place an orphanage, just because it seems so much like a home. One with a rather large family and a school on site, but seriously, a home. There are around fifteen kids here, each so precious and energetic. They are surrounded by a staff that loves them and is really looking out for each of the children’s interests. My first twenty-four hours here have been a huge blessing already.

Part of the corn action. After hand-picking off the kernels for
a while, they brought in a machine to do it much faster. This
is some of the team sifting that corn. SOOO much corn!

Yesterday, we went in to Guadalajara for church and I was given a beautiful picture of what is going on here.

We sat in the back of the sanctuary. The home director, his wife, the children, the interns, the teachers, and our team filled three rows. I spent most of the service lost, holding white knuckled to the bi-lingual bible I had been handed for understanding.

In front of me, the home director sat beside a chair holding two of the younger guys. The one closest two him has only been at the home a few weeks and–like most of the kids–has had a rough background, despite being only a toddler.

I found myself moved to tears in the middle of the service as this little guy nuzzled into his new father’s side. The director of the home smiled down, embracing the child close. 

This little guy is the one who touched my
heart that morning in church. Gah! those

This simple picture was so beautiful to me that even thinking about it makes me cry writing this–I’m a crier. I’ll admit it. This little boy arrived here under dire circumstances and now gets to be loved and cherished and held close by a father. 

This beautiful picture of being adopted–taken in and accepted–has captured the purpose of what I think this week will hold. We are not lost. We will never be lost again. We are like this little child–a little beat-up, broken, not quite getting the language or righteousness, but God pulls us close to his side and welcomes us into his home to be loved and to be guided by him.

This is the tone with which this week has been set. I am so excited to see what is next. It was wonderful getting to know the kids a little bit last night as we walked around the village together and played with them in the plaza.

More tomorrow!


Postcards from Camichines Part I: Preparing

I am excited to finally share my postcards I wrote over my trip to Camichines. Unlike previously believed, I did not have access to internet while I was down there, so I wasn’t able to post these during my time down there. To be honest, that was probably one of the best things for me–being unplugged. For the rest of the week, I will be posting my thoughts and experiences of the trip. Thank you all for your prayers and support. Enjoy!

It wasn’t until I was being driven to the airport that I was struck with the thought:

What am I doing?


After preparing for weeks that God would open the doors to make this adventure happen. After my wonderful family members gave support money. After packing and preparation. That’s when the thought came.

What am I doing?

This is going to be hard work and long days and unfamiliar surroundings. Am I ready for this? Do I have what it takes?

Waiting to take off for Guadalajara

Sitting on the flight to Guadalajara, these doubts continued to swim around my travel-addled brain.

What was I doing? Where was I going? Was I even supposed to be here?

It struck me this morning, looking out over the beautiful rural village of Camichines, surrounded by obnoxious roosters and misty mountains. These thoughts have filled my days. Not about coming to Mexico, but about my life.

What am I doing? Where am I going? Do I have what it takes?

This mantra chorus of doubt has been the song my heart has been singing for so long.

Reading Jeremiah 2 this morning, I was humbled by the love God expresses through the scolding of his people. The desire for them to turn back to him, to leave behind the other gods they have been chasing after.

My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(Z)”> me,

    the spring of living water,<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AA)”>
and have dug their own cisterns,
    broken cisterns that cannot hold water.

My cistern is dry. I am so thirsty, but I have nothing but doubt to draw from.

I have ignored what my father has given me to drink. I have sinned in my self-obsessed search for a future and I have broken my father’s heart.

Sitting here, observing the peace and cacophony of this little rural village, God is inviting me to sing a new song to him. One of trust and confidence in him.

I am on this team for a reason. He has equipped each of us for this work. He desires to me with us here.

Praise the Lord with the harp;<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(A)”>
    make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(B)”>
 Sing to him a new song;<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(C)”>
    play skillfully, and shout for joy.<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(D)”>
 For the word of the Lord is right<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(E)”> and true;<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(F)”>
    he is faithful<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(G)”> in all he does.

The rooftop view at sunrise.

So the new song to replace the song in my heart? I am so deeply loved. The future is not mine to worry about. God has already prepared it for me. In him I strive to trust.

My song for this week? I have nothing to offer but what God has given me. I am here for a small blip. I only a small part of this team. I will give what I have to give and the rest is up to God.

We’ll see what happens next!