Finding Purpose, Place and Peace in the New Year


2015 was new, crazy, challenging, a bit here, there and everywhere.

In January and February, I was empty, then filled. My husband was sick, then sick some more.

In March and April, I was incredibly inspired, then incredibly humbled.

In May, I started fresh again.

In June, I was hopeful, then spirit crushed.

In July, I said no to one thing, then yes to two others.

In August, I was completely confused, then crystal clear.

In September, I started dashing like a mad woman.

October, too.

By November, I was sure of myself, then totally unsure of myself.

I started working hard, really hard trying to prove myself, my worth, my existence on this planet. I circled, round and round, then round some more. I started seeing everyone else and their place, but couldn’t see where I fit. I wasn’t the dentist nor the hygienist, the assistant nor the billing specialist. I wasn’t the teacher nor the aide, the secretary nor the principal. I wasn’t the server nor the manager, the clerk nor the cashier. I wasn’t the business woman or corporate ladder climber, the 9-5’er nor the stay-at-homer. I wasn’t the plumber or electrician, the postal worker or swim instructor. I wasn’t a pastor or preacher, a small group leader or a youth worker. I wasn’t an awesome mom or a horrible mom, a pool mom, a room mom, a snow sledding mom, or an awesome-at-remembering-to-give-Christmas-gifts-to-teachers kind of mom. I wasn’t an income-earning wife or deadbeat wife, nor was I earning much of any income kind of wife. I wasn’t a practicing speech-language therapist anymore, but I had the credentials and experience to say I was. I wasn’t a real photographer, but I wasn’t a phony either. I wasn’t a journalist, an author, or a highly-known blogger, and I wasn’t sure I was really cut out for this writing business but I wasn’t really sure I was cut out for anything else either. I wasn’t a missionary in real life, but I totally was in my heart.

I was lost, but so sure.

Confident, but totally not.

I knew, but I didn’t know at all.

Yes lost, but finding?


In December, I found myself. In Africa. In Kenya. At Shangilia Orphanage. In huts. In the slums. I found myself holding tiny orphan hands, strolling down red roads and garbage-littered roads, slipping unexpectedly in piles of cow dung, and traversing narrow walkways. I found myself wide awake to drums and chanting, crying to God in the middle of the night. I found myself feeling beautiful. I found myself in two little boys I loved like a mama. I found myself kneeling naked to receive a morning trickle of a shower. I found myself in flowing dresses and pant-skirts and rugged lace headbands. I found myself in the middle of the mess. I found myself thousands of miles from home. I found myself thousands of miles from all the loved ones I’d ever known. I found myself near to loved ones He’s always known. I found myself exactly where I expected to find myself. I found myself where God expected me to find myself. I found peace.

I didn’t plan to go to Africa in 2015. Nor did I plan to go anytime soon. But I always dreamed it. I always knew it would happen.


Two years ago, I stopped dead in my tracks. I stopped the blogging madness and took time in solitude to reflect on all that had been, all that could be from there on out. I wasn’t writing resolutions. I was articulating visions, dreams and callings that had been mulling in my brain for years. It took 15 pages of writing to get it all out, to get to the point.

I didn’t know IF or WHEN any of it would happen. But I wrote it all down. I needed to. My heart said yes. It’s time to acknowledge the dreams of my heart, God’s dreams for my life.

Among those words were these…

Dirty during the day. Dressy at night.

15 pages of spewing led to that revelation, that vision of my future. Vague to others, clear enough to me.

In Africa and when I returned home to several long dresses and skirts that needed to be hand scrubbed because they were so dirty on the bottom, I knew God had begun fulfilling the vision I’d scribbled in a journal two years ago.

Dirty during the day. Dressy at night.

I sensed it in my heart.

This is the beginning.

I let those dresses and skirts sit on the laundry room floor for 2 1/2 weeks before I scrubbed them. I wanted to remember, to grasp, to literally SMELL God’s provision in my own two hands. I’m weird, I know. I needed to know with all my heart that through all the floundering, God’s been working something out in me this year.


I was flip-floppy. He said, I’m working my plan.

I was insecure. He said Be secure in me.

I needed to prove my worth. He said Accept my grace.

I didn’t fit anywhere anymore. He said I’m making a way.

I wanted to know what was going to happen. He said Trust me.

I couldn’t find my place in this world. He said Be not conformed to this world.

I thought the invitation to Africa was pretty much a joke. He said It’s time to get dirty. It’s time to love and be loved, beloved. Let me show you a homeland for your heart.


As I edit this, there’s only 10 hours left of 2015. For six days now, I’ve sensed the dead space, the quiet before what’s next. In this limbo between one year and the next, it’s tempting to become hopeless, bored and withdrawn. It’s tempting to believe God’s done with us, that nothing more could be accomplished through our lives. It’s tempting to be fearful, afraid, peeking ’round every corner wondering which shoe will drop next. It’s tempting to control, manipulate and plan every resolution, leaving little room for God’s provision. It’s tempting to believe we’re less than, less than capable, less than everyone else, less than worthy of anything and everything on this moving mass called earth. It’s tempting to shut down. It’s tempting to ramp up the volume and manipulate facts, figures and details to our liking. It’s tempting to stop believing. It’s tempting to believe we have power, control and authority over every minute of our lives, over all of heaven and earth. It’s tempting to adopt crazes and follow masses this way and that. It’s tempting to give up, give in. It’s tempting to take control, take over.

But we mustn’t.

We mustn’t succumb.

God is at work.

His plans are unfolding. For me. For you.

He has a purpose, a place and peace for us that passes all understanding.

We must be patient.

In the meantime, let’s “Work like it depends on us [and] pray like it depends on God.” – Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker

This year, I intend to dream big and pray boldly about dirty during the day. God’s given me a good hunch about the work I need to do for dressy at night. And believe me, there’s a whole lot of life that fits in between and all around those two sentences that’ll need plenty of praying and trusting, working and believing for.

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So how about you?

If you took time, real time, to honor the life God’s given you and write it all down….

What would you resolve to believe next year?

What are your dreams, your visions? How bold are they?

What will you work for like it depends on you?

What will you pray for like it depends on God?

What’s next, friend?

What are you trusting for?

God’s got this. He has it all. He’s bringing us through. He’s bringing us to.

We’re here for a reason. Let’s live like it.


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