fear not, keep on.

woke up with the chorus from this as the absolute first thing in my thoughts,
and it was the sweetest, most wonderful, brilliant, beautiful banner over my day.

the stunning lyrics, pasted below from Sandra McCracken‘s site:

God’s Highway


My feet are strong, my eyes are clear
I cannot see the way from here
But on we go, He knows the way
And in His arms, He keeps me safe.


Fear not, keep on, watch and pray
Walk in the light of God’s highway


The shadows flee, The valley is deep
But evil cannot conquer me
Your rod and staff, They protect me
You give me rest, You give me peace




I see the shore, from troubled seas
This tiny ship that carries me
It is not yet, But it will be
So heaven come, It’s you we need




I’m holding onto you, Lord
You’re holding onto me…
I’m holding onto you, Love
You’re holding onto me…




the gift of Advent

advent devo candle

as the calendar flips to november & flurries begin to fly, i find myself in what i realize is a familiar state of mind. the one where the anticipation of the upcoming holidays meets an intense desire to be present to the people & moments around me. i know all too well that if i’m not careful, time will steamroll right through Thanksgiving & Christmas, and we’ll find ourselves crashing into the new year, dizzy from busy-ness.

as my mind swirls with thoughts of what fun things we’ll do to mark the holidays this year (especially now that charlie loves to help with & gets SO excited about things), i’m equally excited to create space for stopping to rest, relax, and enjoy the heart & gift of the celebrations.

maybe you’ve been in a similar place before? maybe even now?

for me, the feeling applies pretty universally november through january. however, as as a creative person who loves to make gifts, bake, and decorate, the weeks between Thanksgiving & Christmas can be a blur if i’m not intentional. a few years ago, i stumbled upon an Advent devotional, and it really influenced how i felt & prepared for Christmas. it has looked a little different from year to year (a series of daily emails, a set of cards with an image or verse, a journaling activity, a daily illustration aligned with portions of the Christmas Story), but the rhythm of pausing each day of Advent to reflect on Jesus changed me that year and has become a practice i continue to prioritize and treasure.

looking back, i noticed that the most meaningful, transformational aspects of each of those various Advent experiences that kept me pointed towards Jesus as i entered into Advent were been Scripture, questions, and reflection. i need Scripture – sometimes just a verse, and sometimes a story – to keep me grounded in the character of God…the bare beginnings of Jesus’ story…the tenderness of it all. i need questions to help me connect those ancient words to my everyday life. the combination of those two things serve as points of reflection that i come back to throughout the day.

when laura & i were dreaming this summer about our next set of devotional cards, Advent was #1 on our list. having a visual reminder with the devotional cards adds a whole new depth of engagement for me with the Scripture, questions, and reflection, and we pray that they are helpful in the same way for you, too. we’ve been working away on these little beauties for the past few months – praying over the verses & questions, praying for the people that will hold them. praying for you, sitting with Jesus as you slow your hustle & rest more deeply in to Him.

the Advent devotional card set is 23 simple, pretty cards with a verse on the front and a Scripture reference & questions/prompts to reflect on on the back. on days that you’re short on time, you can easily tuck a card into your bag or purse to take out later in the day while you’re waiting at an appointment, for the bus, or in the carpool line. you can read the full Scripture reference on your phone app, if  you’d like, & simply reflect on the question/prompt or jot down your thoughts in the blank space on the back of the card.

on days that you have a little extra time, you could sit down with a warm cup of coffee or tea, your bible, and a card. after reading the verse on the front of the card and the Scripture reference(s) on the back, you could take more time to reflect on your thoughts about the question/prompts and sit in a few moments of quiet to pray about them, rest with your wonderings, jot down some notes on the back of the card, or write them in your journal.

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those are just two ideas of ways we envision the devotional cards could be used as you look at, listen to, and talk with Jesus this Advent season. our heart for these cards is that they can be part of your day no matter what your routine looks like. we hope you love them so much that you display them on your desk to help you reflect on verses in between emails & to-dos…maybe on your fridge as you try to memorize a verse…as a garland on your mantle… we think they would also be great to discuss as a family around the dinner table. however you choose, we pray that they enrich your Advent!

the full set is $20 (sales tax and shipping are included), and you can order yours online here. for purchases of 3 or more sets, we will contact you to adjust shipping costs. the Advent devotional cards are also available at Pathway Bookstore at Christ Presbyterian Church in Edina.

* we’d love to see your posts about the devo cards as you use them!
Use #shareAdventdevo, and we can cheer each other on :o) *

come to the edge.

come to the edge quote

those passions. the ones that you find yourself thinking about when you’re supposed to be focusing on something else. that you can’t learn enough about. that you could lose hours wrapped up in. the ones that feed your soul & make you come alive.

i hope everyone has at least one thing like that in their life. for me, one of those things is lettering. i can remember saving my money when i was 9 or 10 to buy a book about how to make different letter shapes; a few years later i was gifted a calligraphy set that i practiced with whenever i could. (oh how i wish i had saved that little practice booklet that came with the set; it was fantastically awful!) somehow that little flicker of a flame didn’t burn out with bubble letters on science fair posters. for years i’ve daydreamed about some day having a little side business lettering quotes and invitations and envelopes and who-knows-what-else. but that seems scary and tiny-but-huge and like too big of an undertaking, so i mostly just doodle and practice and revel in addressing our christmas card each year (bubble letters haven’t made a comeback…yet). until recently, that is, when a super fun project came along that i got to collaborate on [insert giddy, nervous excitement].

my friend laura, who breathes encouragement, generosity, hospitality, honesty, and spiritual formation, wrote an incredible devotional centered around God’s invitation to each of us to come. just as we are, here & now in our everyday lives.

laura gathered 31 verses speaking to God’s invitation to us to come to Him, reminding us of how He comes to us, and encouraging us to come to & be with one another, and she paired them with simple, meaningful prompts: questions to reflect on, songs to listen to, reminders of God’s character, ideas for ways to connect with others. to help make the devotional useful, flexible, and engaging, we organized the devotional into 31 postcard-sized cards, then added a mix of modern, fun, handwritten fonts and pops of color.

playing with fonts & colors and doing behind-the-scenes logistics are my jam, so those were no-brainers, but initially i dreamily thought about hand lettering all the verses which was (massively, i-can-do-all-the-things) naive of me. when i realized that task was far too involved for what i had the capacity for, i got really discouraged, and in my discouragement, i immediately turned the idea off. it was all or nothing, and clearly i couldn’t do “all,” so i went about the rest of the details. however, as i kept working on other parts of the project, i couldn’t shake the prompting that i kept sensing – what i’m now calling a “come to the edge” invitation – to include hand lettering in the card set in some way. lo and behold, as i kept coming back to the project, kept picking up my pen, kept letting go of what i initially envisioned and trusted the prompting, in the end, i was able to tuck a few little hand lettered elements in.

i could stop there with, “it all worked out!” but it’s what happened between finally picking up my pen and finishing the final piece that opened my eyes a little and made the long-appreciated quote above come to life. the truth of the matter is that working on this project wasn’t always simple or easy. i laugh as i write that: “funny…doing things we are passionate about isn’t always easy.” i couldn’t get information i needed. no matter how badly i wanted to pick up my pen & work on lettering, i battled legitimate hurdles with real life circumstances that delayed me being able to get started. shipments didn’t arrive how they were ordered.

then along came fear and battling not just “i might fall” fears – i was full-on drowning in “I’M FALLING, SAVE ME!” fears: “this isn’t good enough,” “no one will like it,” “you’re wasting your time.” i was working my creative time in after work, after dinner-bath-stories-bedtime-cleanup, in between loads of laundry, during naps. i’d hit my stride only to realize i was verging on midnight on a work night…or charlie was waking up…or i’d blown past when i needed to be making diner. it took everything in me to keep listening to the tiny, quiet, consistent, deep prompt to keep going. to do the really hard, scary thing with the hope that there was purpose and meaning to what i was doing. that it mattered.

and, oh, if that isn’t the cry of my heart: to do things that matter.

the day that i fiddled with the hand lettering pieces for the last time, i almost cried. they are pieces that i am incredibly proud of, knowing what it took to create them, and i am thankful-beyond-words to be able to send those little pieces of my heart out to the world and share them with the recipients of the card sets. it feels…scary and tiny-but-huge and like too big of an undertaking, but i did it. a full schedule and work and fear and details-gone-awry didn’t win; creating and sharing and saying yes to my passion won.

and that, as sort of dramatic as it may sound, feels a bit like flying. He invited me, He helped create the space, and He gave me encouragement and the push-à-la-prompting that i needed to see that i had it in me to do a really hard thing that i really believe in.

so if you are in the midst of starting a new thing or sending something you love & are proud of out into the world, go for it. be brave with what you love, and share what God has gifted you with with those around you.

our prayers for the devotional are that it is engaging, thought-provoking, and refreshing and that it invites you into conversation with the Lord that reminds you of His nearness, His guidance, and His love.


the devotional card set is printed on sturdy cardstock (80# cover, for my fellow paper fanatics) with a beautiful, glossy, full color front and matte black and white back. the set is designed so that, if you’d like, you can do one card per day for a month. for the months with 31 days, you’re right on; if you do it in, say, a non-leap-year february, you’ll have a bonus trio ;o)

each of the 31 cards:

  • has a verse on the front and a scripture reference and prompts on the back
    *i love the variety of prompts: questions to reflect on, songs to look up and listen to, reminders of God’s character, ideas for ways to connect with others
  • has plenty of white space on the back for responding to the questions, writing down thoughts, doodling…whatever you like!
  • is approximately 4.2″ x 5.5″ making it a great companion to your quiet time or easy to take with you on-the-go to do on your lunch break, on the bus, at the park watching your kids play…wherever, whenever.

the full set is $20 which includes sales tax and shipping. you can order yours here.


IMG_2217 IMG_2215 IMG_2216

gratitude, day 23.

gratitude_xsgratitude is a miraculous, wonderful thing. it really does turn what we have into enough. sometimes – often, even – it reminds us that what we have is even more than we need. although it’s kind of a “thing” for people to list something they are grateful for each day in november, this isn’t really that. it’s sort of my mash-up of a daily writing exercise i see people do every day in october paired with practicing gratitude. it won’t be the same every day. sometimes it will be a short, quick post, and other times it will be a reflection or recipe. but most importantly, every day there will be gratitude.

today, i am grateful for mentors.

wedding_paschallsthe saying we all know and that i wrote about the other day says, “it takes a village to raise a child.” as an adult, however, i would have to say that it takes a village to raise an adult, too. for far too many years, i didn’t really get that. i thought that at a certain point i should know enough to make big decisions, process experiences, & generally navigate life. i imagine i adopted that line of thinking somewhere around 18 (i was officially an adult, after all) or maybe 22 years old (a college graduate should surely have all of her stuff together).

wr_nicaragua_blacksi was so, so mistaken. by way of doing things wrong (sometimes repeatedly), i learned the hard way that i honestly just plain wasn’t equipped to do everything on my own. don’t get me wrong – i am a strong, competent, intelligent woman. it’s just that in a number of ways i put so much unnecessary stress on myself. looking back, my heart aches for the girl that was trying so hard & working so hard to keep everything together.

wedding_lauraanother key thing i learned is that as incredible as family, friends, & teachers are in our lives, God brings mentors & spiritual parents into each of our tribes. people that love us, see from an outside perspective, call life out of us, speak truth, & guide us. i prayed about finding a mentor for months before gathering up the courage to ask about connecting with women who would be interested in mentoring me. i think i’ll save that specific story for another post, but i mention it now only to say that although there truly are countless people who are passionate about mentoring, we need to first take the step to open ourselves up to the process. however, once i did i was & continue to be blessed ten-fold by the women & men who are now knit deeply in my life & our marriage.

me_joan_2011there are very specific conversations, moments, & experiences that i remember vividly – viscerally even – with each of them. one change in perspective…one truth affirmed…one word spoken over me that i know that i know that i know changed the trajectory of my life. it’s those little decisions, little changes of direction that have such a big impact much farther down the road. my cup runneth over…

gratitude, day 1.  ::  gratitude, day 2.  ::  gratitude, day 3.  ::  gratitude, day 4.  ::  gratitude, day 5.
gratitude, day 6.  ::  gratitude, day 7.  ::  gratitude, day 8.  ::  gratitude, day 9.  ::  gratitude, day 10.
gratitude, day 11. :: gratitude, day 12. :: gratitude, day 13. :: gratitude, day 14. :: gratitude, day 15.
gratitude, day 16. :: gratitude, day 17. :: gratitude, day 18. :: gratitude, day 19. :: gratitude, day 20.
gratitude, day 21. :: gratitude, day 22.

:: six. ::

six months ago, life changed in what seems like an instant. in the most wonderful, peaceful, simple way, it just…happened.

i kept it to myself for a week. holding it close. guarding it. a sweet little something that i knew immediately was that thing. the thing i was so excited about that i really wanted to tell everyone but felt strongly wasn’t something to share just yet.

what a sweet time that was. holding it close; just me & the Lord.


10 things: 01.12.

i have watched sarah kay‘s TED talk, “if i should have a daughter,” no less than 25 times. every time i watch it something new stands out, but one part that stood out right away & stuck in my thoughts was when she asked the audience to think of three things they know to be true.

after i thought of my three things, i wondered how my three things might change over time. later in her talk, sarah, a spoken word poetry teacher, explains that she has her students write ten things they know to be true when they are brainstorming what to write about. building on that idea, i thought it would be fun (not to mention interesting) to make a list of ten things i know to be true each month for a year to see how they change over time. it has been a really good exercise so far.

first, it was pretty cool when i found myself wondering if “this” [thought, realization, experience, feeling] would end up among the month’s top ten. it’s maybe even more cool that i continue to find myself in this place of reflection & wonder.

second, it’s a really great reminder of life’s sweet spots & challenges. it’s been good to document happenings, gratitude, & prayers.

last, but not least, it’s helping me stay true to myself. to who God has made me to be. to how He is continuing to mold me. to who He has woven into my life that bring life. to the passions He has given me that help me connect to Him and His kingdom.

i’m really excited to see how this exercise evolves over the year, and it will be super fun to look back on the lists in december!

january, 2012

  1. my tribe is incredible. i love that i get to see some regularly, i cherish reunions with those far away, and i genuinely miss those i don’t see often enough.
  2. life is precious.
  3. i have never, never been so grateful for a new year. embracing 2012…the year of grace.
  4. having sweet conversations with my brother about jesus & then being there when he found an authentic community has been one of the greatest blessings in my life.
  5. i’m independent, strong, confident, & completely capable…but i still miss my husband every day. this & this help.
  6. i love pinterest.  LOVE.
  7. sarah kay‘s spoken word poems completely resonate with & spark something in me: if i should have a daughter & how many lives can you live?
  8. i’m working on finding balance in 2012.  step one is figuring out what that even means.
  9. i’m grateful every day for my health. every. single. day.
  10. i feel most alive when i am creating, connecting with people i love, & exploring a new place.

may god bless you.

may god bless you with discomfort
at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships,
so that you may
live deep within your heart.

may god bless you with anger
at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

may god bless you with tears to shed
for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war,
so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them
and to turn their pain into joy

and may god bless you with enough foolishness
to believe that you can make a difference in this world,
so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

:: franciscan benediction ::