The deliberate search for hope: thoughts on November 9.

I decided early on not to watch the debate last night. I’d had enough of the inescapable spin, watching friends attack friends on social media, and the general, abysmal state of the world.

Rather, I turned to the place where my soul finds rest, to the woods, to deliberately look for hope.

The worry, the emotional fatigue, clung to me for a good while. Voices warning of doomsday loitered like shadowy figures on the street corners of my mind.

I pressed on one step at a time and wondered…

…what will become of us all a month from now?

If all we are as a people is an election, if all we look to, to save us, is a figurehead, then on November 9 half of us will be faced with eternal damnation.


…unless hope can’t be found in a president.

A government cannot dole out salvation like loaves of bread to the starving.

The thorny pain of disappointment, dying dreams, sickness and hate can’t be solved by any administration.

No, our hope doesn’t come from a man or a woman…

…can’t come from a man or a woman.

We are living so small in a world beckoning us to stop and listen, take notice…

…hope is not dead.

Hope is here.

Hope is alive.

Hope is in the haze of the sun settling over drying corn fields, and in the gentle sway of the goldenrod.

Hope is waiting to burst wide open like the gossamer rupture of cat tails, and for you to bend down and notice it in the fragile petals of frost asters.

Even dying things reach heavenward because they know where the hand that made them resides.

Soon the crimson blaze of change will settle and the bare naked arms of the trees will open wide to embrace us, white snow of winter covering us clean.

The stained glass exaltation of nature points us to the One, who alone can save us from our selves.

We are living so small.

But we were made to live bigger than this.

We are cowering in fear and hate.

But the Lord gave us sound minds to live brave and to love.

We act as if we have no hope, when hope is all we have and all we need.


At the sun, the sky, the changing leaves.


To the laughter of your children, the rustle of the wind, the songs of the sparrows.


The strong hand of your spouse, the round smoothness of a newly ripened apple, the crisp, white pages of scripture.

Words and deeds, kings and kingdoms, the days allotted to each of us evanesce like morning frost

But hope.

Hope remains.

Where will you find it today?


“Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭6:11-13‬ ‭MSG‬‬


Dear Reader, What do you do with the unexpected?

IMG_7413Saturday morning I was moseying along when something jostled me, and my daily cup of morning coffee sloshed over the back of my hand.

I tried to hold on and salvage it–I mean, it was my COFFEE! My friend! My muse! My EVERYTHING!–before finally letting the cup drop to the ground.

But the damage was done. That coffee was hot. So hot, it melted off a full layer of skin without even bothering to blister it first.

And now I’m sidelined.

I can’t do anything with my hand that involves dirt or water, including gardening and the dishes (***wink, wink, dear husband!***). I’m feeling a bit like The Fugitive in my own home. Although laundry, unfortunately, can be done quite well with one arm.  Otherwise, it turns out that there’s a lot of daily activities that involve dirt and water. And even more in my work as a nurse.

Oh, it’ll heal in a week or two, but in the meantime, it’s annoying. In short…

…it’s throwing off my groove.

Has something like that ever happened to you? Something unexpected that forces you to slow down? To pause? To take a deep breath and be still?

Last evening, I wanted to spread mulch and pull weeds and get stuff done, but I couldn’t.

So I sat on our patio swing.

I took a deep breath.

Before long, my dog was swinging with me.

Then one son.

Then another.

The sun fell below the trees and the paper lamps began to glow. We lit a few torches to keep the mosquitoes away. I noticed lightning bugs. I heard the long, rhythmed sigh of cicadas. And I remembered:

It is good to be still.

Especially with the ones I love.

With all the busy-ness of back-to-school and life in general, finding time to savor the here-and-now feels counterculture. Unnerving. Weird.

But oh the peace of realizing not everything has to happen right. this. very. minute!

If I’ve learned anything about writing novels, it’s that the story will get written in its time. I struggled for a long time feeling like my words had to be perfect when I turn them in to my editors. Not that I want to give them crap, of course. But you see, I’ve been amazed time and time again as my manuscripts go through the editing process how–just when I think I’m either done or at my wit’s end–precisely the perfect anecdote or bit of factual setting information or visual that I need to make a section of the story shine “lands in my lap” at the very last minute. This even happened with the stone which appears on the cover of Then Sings My Soul.

These small gifts of thoughts and phrases happen in unforced spaces and unpredictable moments.

In the grace of the empty.

In the elusiveness of now.

Sometimes the predicaments we find ourselves in are precisely the quenching solutions God offers for places within us we haven’t even realized are parched.

Speaking of parched, here’s my injured hand and my ICE COLD DIET DR. PEPPER. It’s a poor substitute for my morning mud, but I’m still a little panicky over the thought of holding a hot cup of joe, so it’ll have to do… 

***  ***


What do you do with the unexpected, Dear Reader?

If you’ve been forced to the sidelines or to be still, what have you learned there?


Dear Reader is a series I post on every week. If you’re a reader and have an idea or question you’d like me to write about, relating to books or writing or editing, etc., jot me a note and I’d be much obliged to take a stab at your request. Also, if you’d like to read all the Dear Reader posts, click here. If you like insider information into my books or writing life, be sure to sign up for my author newsletter by clicking here.

Why does God seem farthest when we need Him most?

Good question. 

I don’t have a good answer. 

In the throws of depression, grief, tragedy, I’ve often asked for prayers and felt unable to pray for myself.

But…maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be.

Maybe when He feels farthest we need to look closer.

Maybe God is near, but not in the ways we suspect. Not in a loud voice or a burning bush. Not in an earthquake or a storm, but rather…

…in the prayer of a friend who cries out for you.

…in the steady fall of rain on a spring garden.

…in the memory of someone who believed in you years ago.

…in the taste of warm soup on a cold winter day.

…in the curl of a dog’s wagging tail when you get home in the evening.

What about you?

What are some of the still, small ways God is with you that maybe you haven’t looked close enough to see? 


In my new novel, Then Sings My Soul, the main characters (Jakob and Nel) are asking the same question. What they find  you. Read their story and how they find hope. Available wherever your favorite books are sold.