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Before I left for my trip to Haiti in February 2014, I grabbed the ridiculously overpriced “Penny For Your Thoughts” journal my husband received at work somewhere along the way. We’d kept it safe in its original packaging on a shelf in our entryway closet for months. Perhaps we’d donate it to a silent auction. Perhaps we’d give it as a gift someday. After all, the price tag said something like $54. Even I, a lover of words, couldn’t imagine why ANY person would pay $54 for a journal. Yes, I grossly underestimated the worth of that journal. When I got to Haiti, I randomly scrawled notes here and there as the mission necessitated. Prayer requests from our two sponsored children. Info about another child we began sponsoring nine months later. An inspiring quote about Compassion International beneficiaries being “sleeping giants.” Notes here and there. As IF I was never going to use that journal again. As IF it was only good for its paper.

One month after I returned from Haiti, I opened that journal back up, turned to the first page, and began by writing insights I gleaned from rereading journals from my past. I was on a blogging break, and desperately needed to figure out where I’d been and where I was going. Nine months later, I stopped working as a speech-language pathologist to focus on writing and photography, and take advantage of time home with my children while they’re still somewhat young. Today, there’s only ONE blank page in that “A Penny For Your Thoughts” journal. I’ve carried it around everywhere, through everything, for the past 2 1/2 years. Who knew?!

I’ve adored that journal. It’s been my companion through days of transition, days of unknown, days of heartache and chaos, and days of dreaming. But the timing couldn’t be more perfect. It’s time for a new journal!

Knowing I was going to be purchasing a new journal soon, I took time to page through my “A Penny For Your Thoughts” journal last week. I’m compelled to share something significant I learned from rereading one of the pages.

Listen, and listen closely because this is profound.

Over the course of the past 4 1/2 years, I’ve learned to dream. I’ve learned to dream BIG DREAMS. 

In all honesty, it’s crossed my mind that I’ve gone mad, or that maybe I’m losing my mind bit by bit. But the truth is, I didn’t dream BIG enough. 

Yes, you heard me right.

I didn’t dream big enough.

The first quarter of that “Penny For Your Thoughts” journal is filled to the brim with dreaming. I allowed myself to go there. In fact, the ultimate purpose of those first pages was to put all my hopes and dreams down on paper. I looked back through the past, tried to piece together the bigger storyline of my life, and used that as a foundation to dream about what the second half of my life could look like. This was an intentional exercise. Nobody was judging me. Nobody was silently critiquing. I didn’t care if my dreams were totally out of line or totally achievable. I just wrote them down as they came to me. Yes, I allowed myself to dream big all over those pages.

Yet even in my grandest and freest state of dreaming, I didn’t dream big enough.

On one side of the journal page, I wrote down my “Big Picture” vision. It’s fairly vague to the naked eye, but still spot on. The vision I have for the second half of my life has never wavered.

Here’s the kicker. I didn’t dream big enough in the details.

On the other side of the journal page, I wrote down all the details of my dream as concisely as I could. There were 10 points. Keep in mind, I thought these were long-term goals, goals I could reach or see the “beginnings of…within the next 4-8 years” if everything went perfectly as planned. As of today, I have already achieved 5 out of 10 of those detailed dreams. I’m working on #6. And I was seriously close to achieving #7, but the outcome was largely out of my control.

Needless to say, reviewing my journal was an incredibly eye-opening exercise.

I didn’t dream big enough!

I didn’t dream big enough.


So what’s the point of sharing this with you today?

The likelihood is that none of us have ever DREAMED big enough! The likelihood is that none of us have ever BELIEVED enough.

So how do we move from disbelief to belief? How do we get from here to there? How do we move from today to tomorrow? How do we move purposefully and intentionally towards the ultimate vision we have for life? How do we fulfill our God-given purpose here on earth?

Take time.

Sit down.

Get quiet.

Listen to the still small voice.

Think long and hard about WHAT we love, HOW we can best help others, and WHY we’re here.


Get quiet again.


Dream even BIGGER.

Pray again.

Then mark it all down. Write it. Speak it. Share it. Remember it. Revise as needed. And don’t ever forget.

In the meantime, trust that God works ALL things together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.


There’s a reason we’re here. Let’s live out every detail, every dream we have for ourselves and best yet, every dream God has planned for us.

I don’t know about you, but I have some work to do. In the next three weeks, I’m going to purchase a new journal. I’m also going to buy a planner. My goal is to write down that vague, but spot on lifelong vision all over again, but this time, I’m dreaming WAY bigger about the details. I’m going over every area of my life, I’m getting still and praying over everything, and I’m not holding back. I’ve dreamed MANY dreams in the past 2 1/2 years that have never been documented anywhere. In the next three weeks, all those great big dreams are going to be written down. I don’t care if they’re crazy or impossible or if everyone would say “Whatever, that’s totally dreaming and never happening.” Then I’m going to take that planner and I’m going to map out my days more intentionally to ensure I’m prioritizing the things I want and need to prioritize.

I’m 40. But If I live as long as my grandfather, I could have another 56+ years of life on earth. It’s time to dig deep and dream bigger. There’s a reason I’m still here. There’s a reason you’re still here.

So how about you?

Do you need to dream a little?

Do you need to dream a little bigger?

Perhaps you need to sit still long enough to hear…

You’re here for a reason.

There’s more in store for you, beloved.

What will it be?



Six months from now, I’ll be 40.

Finally…the decade I’ve been waiting for.

I know. Crazy, right? Who WANTS to turn 40?

Me. I do, please.

My 20s? They were good. Finished college. Got married. Went to graduate school. Moved a handful of times. Bought our first house. Bought a lot of stuff for the house. Had two babies. Worked and worked some more. Found a church. Made some friends. Lost touch with some friends. Went to a lot of weddings. Visited a lot of babies. Had some fun times. Went through some bad times. Began dreaming. Grew in my faith.

My 30s? They were good. Sold a house. Built a house. Worked. Worked some more. Then decided to take a break from paid work and work on a hobby, a passion, a calling, whatever you want to call it. Worked out a lot. Had another baby. Did lots of kid stuff. Spent lots of time with other peoples’ kids. Got some date nights and a couple vacations with my hubby. Didn’t get nearly enough date nights and time with my hubby. Left a church. Found another church. Made a few friends and a lot of acquaintances. Lost touch with more friends. Had some great times. Went through some very bad times. Received and processed diagnoses. Read a ton of blogs. Began a blog. Felt sure. Felt totally unsure. Had dreams come true. Continued dreaming. Grew in my faith.

And now…I’m less than six months out from my 40s.

Yes, it’s 2016, the year of my 40th birthday.

40 is first and foremost, totally respectable.

40 is much wiser.

40 is aging very well, thank you.

40 is been there, done that.

40 is I’m done playing games, I’m living now.

40 is prime.

40 is golden.

40 is no longer naive.

40 is (pretty much) half-way there.

40 is time to begin again.

40 is mid-life awakening.

40 is life.

40 is me being me.

40 is let’s settle into this.

40 is I’m tired of playing games.

40 is I don’t (want to) care what you think anymore.

40 is let’s do this.

40 is it’s time to get real.

40 is let’s rock this.


Three years ago, I was mistaken for a 13 year old when I was in the elevator with my husband on a cruise ship. I’m not. even. kidding. I was wearing a swimsuit and coverup. I wasn’t wearing makeup. Still…I hope I acted older than a 13 year old.

Two months ago, I was mistaken for an undergraduate student at a speech-language convention. Then I was mistaken for a graduate student more than once. For the most part, I looked like all the grad students I met there. Still…I hope I acted older than 18-23 years old.

I know I LOOK much younger than I am. But I’ve always FELT much older than I am. The discrepancy still bothers me. 

This year, I might be mistaken for a 13 year old, an 18 year old, a 22 year old, a 26 year old, or even a 35 year old. But make no mistake, whether I’m 39 1/2, 39 2/3, 39 3/4 or 40, I’m rocking 40 the whole year through.

40 is me being me.

40 is it’s time to get real.

40 is golden.

Eight days ago, I woke up and got dressed in a black and white work outfit with tall black boots, and put my computer in my black and white polka dotted Thirty-One bag. My husband asked why I was all dressed up. My kids did too.

“I’m leaving the house and I’m going to write. All day. And I’m going to write for six hours every Tuesday and Thursday for the next three, four or five months unless there’s a really good reason not to.”

Okay, I’m paraphrasing. I don’t remember the exact words I said. But basically, that’s what I said. That’s exactly what I meant to say, at least.


I spent five to six hours writing on January 5th.

I spent five to six hours writing on January 7th.

On January 9th, I finished Mark Batterson’s book, “The Circle Maker.” I haven’t been praying nearly enough. I haven’t been praying nearly big enough. And I haven’t been trusting myself, anyone or God Himself nearly enough. God made TWO of my lifelong dreams come true in 2015, and I wasn’t even actively praying for them to come true. I was just walking this dusty, narrow, totally unknown path called…

“I’m following my dreams.”

“I’m pursuing my calling.”

“I’m following Jesus?

What does any of this mean, anyway?

Seriously, is this work or is this not work? Am I living in reality or am I not? Am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing or am I not? Because I’m confused, but I’m totally NOT confused all at once.

So yeah…


40 is much wiser.

On January 12th, I spent 1 hour 40 minutes in Barnes & Noble bookstore and 1 hour in LifeWay Christian Bookstore. I prayed. I perused. I looked. I examined. I analyzed. I wondered HOW I fit, WHERE I fit, and mostly IF I fit. I imagined. I dreamed. I took a lot of notes. And I very intentionally decided to begin dreaming bigger. Because I’m praying bigger. I’m believing bigger. I’m believing that God has more. I’m believing that God has more than I’ve visioned, more than I’ve imagined, more than I’ve allowed myself to dream.

It has to be true.


Then I remembered the dream I’d forgotten until recently, the dream I held long ago to own an Amy’s Hallmark store. I don’t want to own an Amy’s Hallmark anymore. But I have been thinking about that forgotten dream. I have been wondering if it’s more about the cards, if it’s about the words and simple, intentional, and meaningful connections with human beings in old-fashioned pen and paper form. The truth is, I still LOVE cards. A beautifully-designed and well-written card still ROCKS my WORLD. I’m still compelled to buy and send cards. I still find myself at complete peace when I’m alone (aka without kids) in a Hallmark store. Geeky AND cheesy, I know. So I’ve begun dreaming a silly little dream…what if I could land a job writing cards someday? Maybe I could fill a card niche that doesn’t currently exist? Wouldn’t that be an awesome little dream come true?

It’s a new dream.

Perhaps it’s old made new?

Perhaps it’ll come true.

Perhaps it’ll never come true.

Perhaps it’ll forever be a silly little far-off dreamy dream I shared with a few people who happened to read my January 14, 2016 blog post?

Perhaps it’s something.

Perhaps it’s nothing.

I’m open.

So I made my way over to LifeWay Bookstore’s card section and didn’t waste a second looking at anything but Karen Kingsbury’s STUNNING card collection I’ve been swooning over since it released. The collection is noteworthy, but small, so I allowed myself to handle and read EVERY. CARD. EVERY. ONE. It felt indulgent, this stopping to read a bunch of greeting cards on my third official writing “work day,” but it was necessary for my heart. It was necessary for my acknowledgement that WORDS MATTER, that WORDS MATTER to me, that MY words matter.

By the end of all that looking, I’d gathered three cards in my hand, three cards that spoke to my heart, three cards I LOVED. You know what I did next? I decided I’d buy them all as a 40th birthday gift to myself…6 months early.


40 is trusting and believing that all things work together for good, even when I feel stupid, silly, dreamy, discouraged, worthless, out of place, or totally off course.

40 is giving grace.

40 is knowing myself better than before.

40 is loving myself.

40 is giving myself what I need, so I’m better equipped to give others what they need.





In 14 days of 2016, I’ve condemned myself, I’ve disqualified myself, I’ve had disarming and disturbing dreams, I’ve had a whole lot of dreams about broken glass and ceramic, and I’ve been awake in the middle of the night praying “Jesus” because I felt my brain swirling with fear and darkness drawing near.

40 is NOT foolproof, friends.

But make no mistake, I’m rocking 40 the whole year through.


40 is braver.

40 is bolder.

40 is KNOWING there’s a reason we’ve been here, TRUSTING there’s a reason we’re still here, LIVING like we’re worth more than a passing glance, PRAYING that God can and will do all things, and BELIEVING our best days are still ahead.

40 is knowing with 100% certainty that I DON’T want a 40th birthday bash. It’s not me. It’s simply not me. But make no mistake. I bought those cards for a reason. This 40th is momentous. This 40 means something to me. I’m dreaming big for one thing, I’m working hard for another, and I’m praying hard for both. This year of 40.

40 is…



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.




The journey became official on July 4, 1988. I was 12 years old, going into 7th grade. I cracked open my hot pink diary with an ice cream cone on top and began writing. It was an innocent act, for sure. But to me, it’s proof of my purpose.

I’m convinced. Or perhaps God’s convinced me quietly, time and time again.

Writing isn’t my hobby. It’s my calling.

I just haven’t gotten paid for it yet.

One diary turned into two, then three. Diaries turned into notebook journals. Notebook journals turned into store-bought journals. Teenage-angst journals turned into gratitude journals, love journals and pregnancy journals. Store-bought journals sufficed, yet again, post baby one and two. Then there was the seven-year computerized, therapeutic journal you’ve heard about if you’ve lingered long in this space from the beginning. Yes, all of this led to baby three and my blog launch in July 2012.

July is clearly my month of birth.


The past 3 1/2 years have been marked with tremendous personal and spiritual growth. My inner life is deep and incredibly rich. To know me well is to know that I’m much quieter on the outside than I am on the inside. 368 blog posts have been published and made public. 65 posts sit unpublished in my blog’s draft box. A leather, store-bought journal stamped with “A Penny For Your Thoughts” is nearly filled with notes and dreams of great big things, thoughts and truths I needed to speak out loud.

Some of you have listened.

Some of you have heard.

Some of you have loved my dreams.

Some of you have held them close.

Some of you have quietly affirmed.

Some of you have stood by me.

Some of you have pressed, asked and challenged.

Some of you simply don’t know.

Some of you I’ve been too afraid to tell.

Two of you called me an author last week – even though I didn’t believe it, even though I don’t believe it. “I’m not an author until I’m published.”

I’m a writer.

I own that.


But here’s the thing, friends.

I didn’t set out to become a professional blogger.

I wanted to become a writer.

I dreamed of becoming an author.

All those diaries and journals dating back to 1988? They’re proof that God was working something in me from the beginning, that He had a plan greater than my own, a plan to draw me and others closer to Him through words, through the Spirit moving in and through the everyday fabric of our lives.

The birth of my first baby marked the birth of the dream. In 2003, the dream began taking shape.

I wanted to write books.

I wanted to become an author.

I wanted to move people, to relate to people, to connect with people, to change people, to draw people closer to God and the purpose He has for their lives….in quiet and personal ways, through the written word.

I wanted to write words that make a difference, a lasting difference.

After my baby was born, I was shocked. Motherhood wasn’t anything like I expected. Heck, it still isn’t today. Motherhood is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, the hardest thing I’ll ever do. I needed to know I wasn’t alone in this mothering gig. I found solace and solidarity in the pages of real-life books on motherhood. Those books were unlike anything I’d ever read before. They opened my eyes. They helped me feel understood. They helped me realize I wasn’t alone. They changed me from the inside out.

Those books inspired me.

I wanted to move people like that. I wanted people to know they weren’t alone. I wanted to use my life exactly like that…to inspire and change people through the written, printed word.

So I began dreaming. I wrote the dreams out loud.

First dreams of authoring books appeared in my journals in 2003.

In November of 2006, I spoke my dream out loud to an established author and speaker who’s still alive and kicking today.

In March of 2007, I wrote a simple goal – to author one book on mothering. I defined the long-term vision. (It’s still the same vision I have today, only today’s vision is broader.) I brainstormed 19 book titles. No kidding. I even met with a local author for tips and researched domain names. (See, I was supposed to start blogging way back in 2007 when it was hip and new and the up-and-coming thing to do.)

The dream never went away. It just shifted.

In January of 2010, I started a blog, but never wrote a post.

In July of 2012, after being so exasperated with all the dreaming and writing in my head, I launched this blog. At that point, I’d been called to write publicly for nine years and hadn’t taken a LICK of real action. God is SO patient with us, friends, SO grace-filled. But he will gently remind you of His plan a million times if you don’t listen. After all, He’s a relentlessly loving God, too.

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In October of 2014, I was presented with the opportunity to spend 20 minutes with a highly published and highly regarded author at a writing conference. From here on out, let’s refer to her as “Mama Bear.” When I approached Mama Bear, all I intended to do was thank her for her incredible leadership of our generation. All I wanted to do was tell her that I greatly respect and admire her, that when I “grow up,” I’d love to lead, love and write like she does. I told her all of those things. But she invited me in for more. I had no idea what was about to unfold. Add another dear writer friend and 20 minutes of conversation later, we found ourselves revealing our greatest writing dreams to Mama Bear. I told her about the book I wanted to write. I told her about the other book I wanted to write. She told me which book to write first and left me with “You’re more ready for this than you know.”

I met with a literary agent that afternoon. She told me she wanted to see my book proposal. She told me “go do it.” She gave me her business card and even hand-wrote a note on it, telling me what to write in the subject line when I sent in the book proposal.

Those words have echoed in my mind for 13 months now…

“You’re more ready for this than you know.”

“Go do it.”

But I haven’t written a book proposal yet.

I haven’t believed I’m ready for this. I haven’t believed I’m ready for this at all. I haven’t believed I’m good enough. I haven’t believed I have a big-enough platform or a loud-enough voice or beautiful-enough words. I haven’t believed I’m connected enough, that I’m Christian enough or secular enough, that I’m courageous enough to write any book proposal. I haven’t believed I’m strong enough to withstand rejections and criticisms that are part and parcel of any published author’s real life.

I haven’t believed in God’s dreams for me.

I haven’t believed in the plans He began setting out so clearly in 1988 with that hot pink ice cream cone diary.

I’ve started doubting my words.

I’ve started doubting my purpose.

I’ve let the enemy creep in and try to kill, steal and destroy all the plans God ever laid out for my life.

I can’t do it anymore, friends.

It’s coming to a stop today, whether I like it or not.

I’m not playing this game of tug of war anymore.

A plan and a purpose has been playing out in my life since 1988. In case you didn’t realize, it’s the end of 2015, friends. I’m almost 40 years old. God’s been calling me to this since I was 12 years old.

Will I listen?

Or will I not listen?

Will I deny the story He’s written, the story He’s writing today?

I never set out to become a professional blogger.

I dreamed of becoming a published author of books.


When I left my 14 1/2 year career as a speech-language pathologist in December 2014 to pursue writing and photography, one of my writing goals was to publish a blog post 2-3 times per week. I’ve met and kept that goal all year.

Today, I’m making a new goal and I’m making it public to keep myself accountable. Effective immediately and until further notice, I will be publishing blog posts at a frequency of 1-2 times per week maximum. With the exception of my upcoming Africa series (which I’ll write as much as I feel called to write), you can expect me to be writing on the blog with LESS frequency.

Why all the detail, you ask?

Why make this public?

Because I’m tired of the fight. I’m tired of the internal battle. I’m tired of keeping this all inside.

I started writing in diaries and journals when I was 12.

I began dreaming of writing books when I was 26.

I began blogging when I was 36.

I’m still dreaming of writing books and 2016 will mark my 40th birthday.

I’m not getting any younger, friends.

I believe God’s still calling me, still purposed me to author books. If I don’t write those books, nobody will. With that in mind, I am forcing myself, behaving myself out of this place of disbelief and inaction. I am taking the next leap of faith and I’m making it public for the purpose of internal and external accountability.

I have one, great-big book I feel I need to write.

And who knew, I have a children’s book series dreamed up as well. One’s drafted. The second is drafted in my mind. I need to sit down and write it all out ASAP – before it escapes me. As in, it needs to get on the screen within the next week or two or the heart of it will disappear into writer’s oblivion. I’m convinced the children’s series is more than two books. I just don’t have inspiration for books three plus, yet.

There are books beyond that…on calling, friendship, marriage, mission and maybe even motherhood (the original dream). All potential. All possibility. All completely unknown at this point.

I didn’t set out to become a professional blogger. This blog is not the end all be all.

I set out to become a published author of books.

God’s been calling. It’s been persistent. I can’t work my way out of the feeling that I’m supposed to do this. Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe I’m delusional. Maybe I’m a dreamer. Maybe.

Worst case? Call me crazy, delusional, a dreamer. At least I tried.

If my daughter wanted to become a doctor, I’d tell her to try, I’d tell her to go for it, I’d tell her to do what she feels called to do. Why is it so different for writers? Why do we continue to dream in the quiet? Why do we say we’re working on “projects” when in reality we’re writing books? Why does it have to be so mysterious? If my daughter wanted to become a doctor, I can guarantee she’d have no problem publicly proclaiming she was applying to med school.

So there you go. I’m reducing my blogging time with hopes of freeing up time to work on my first book proposal. At this moment in time, I don’t know which book is first. And yes, you might call me crazy. My intention is to pursue traditional publication. (Sigh. Deep breath. We’ll work through this whichever way it goes.)

I’ll be honest. This may be slow. This may be a no go. I know this is NOT an easy road. But I have to try. There’s no more denying it. This is the next right thing to do. This is the next thing God’s calling me to do.

So if you ask me what I’m doing now, how I’m spending my time, what it’s like to be a stay-at-home mom who blogs? Yeah. Stay-at-home moms don’t sit around eating bon bons all day, that’s for sure. (Random ode and props to the bravest of the brave.) I’m not really identifying as a SAHM, anyway. I’m identifying as wife, mom, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, sister-in-law, niece, cousin, aunt, friend, work-at-home photographer and writer who dreams of becoming an author.


Kenya mission trip

Our timelines rarely coincide with God’s.

We want life to go faster. Or slower.

We wish this would happen. Or that.

We want to press forward. Quicker.

We wish we could go back in time. And do it again.

We dream of better days, longer days, days fuller, days lighter.

We dream, scheme and believe BIG, bold things.

We think maybe, someday.


We have a hunch. Yeah, a hunch. If only, God. If God.

We want to believe those nudges are true. We want to believe it’s the Spirit speaking to our hearts, not earthly, fleshly, egotistical desires.

We just want confirmation that all this living and breathing and dreaming is real. That this life of ours is worth something more, more than mere existence.

We don’t want to simply survive.

We want to thrive.

We want to believe in a God who can do anything. A bigger-than-life God. A God who does things totally unexpected. A God who shows up in places and times least expected. A God who wants to surprise us with His glory, His goodness, His richness, His fullness, His plan for our lives here on planet Earth.

We want to know there’s more. That we’re part of a grander plan. A greater story.



So when DropBox was simply too slow, when I had to go into church to upload a load of high resolution photographs from an all-church service day, when I “randomly” commented on the Africa photos in the corner of the pastor’s office that June 1st, 2015, then consequently got invited to join a mission trip to Africa, I was shocked.

I thought the dude was crazy. Me? Go on a mission trip to Africa in the fall? Ummm….No?! Not going to happen that quick. Not now. You might work like that, but not me! You don’t know me. I’m a planner. I’m a preparer. I like to do and know things in advance. There’s no way I’d make such a big decision in such a short timeframe. There’s no way I could ever find the money that fast, get child care that fast, get the a-okay from my husband that fast, get a blessing from our parents that fast. You know. There’s no way it’s going to happen that fast for me. Okay?

To be honest, I didn’t think the pastor’s initial invitation to go to Africa was all that serious. I really, desperately wanted to go to Africa in my heart of hearts. Of course, I was interested. As in, yes please? But now wasn’t the time. More like a couple years from now, or give me at least a year to get this thing worked out somehow? But five or six months from now?! Really? Serious? Is this for real?


I got myself quiet.

And I got thinking about God’s timelines. How maybe we have it all wrong. How maybe I’ve had it all wrong. How maybe my timeline is SO off and SO wrong and SO not God’s. How he’s surprised me before; maybe He’s surprising me again. How I dreamed of traveling to Africa – not to sightsee, but to serve – for longer than I can remember. My Africa dream is so old, I don’t even remember when I started dreaming it. The dream’s just been there. Always. Forever. Then I remembered being invited to Africa by a different party, with a different nonprofit, in May 2014. And how I said NO, I’m already traveling to the Dominican with Compassion. Then I remembered the 2023 trip we visioned to Africa for our 25th anniversary. And I remembered the SINGLE reference to “Africa” on my blog’s Meet Amy page. I thought it was dreamy, but left it there on purpose, without any detail, without any knowing of what that “Africa” might look like. I left it in for hope’s sake. I left it in for the believing in someday, somehow, maybe when I’m much older and wiser and there’s something grand for me to accomplish there.

Is this all mystical-hogwash coincidence, or is this God working His plan?

I began to believe.

I also began to doubt.

I dismissed and diminished the pastor’s invitation to go on the Africa mission trip. I wanted to believe it could be possible. But I didn’t believe it could actually happen.

Reality set in.

I started blogging in July 2012.

Haiti in February 2014.

Expensive new camera in September 2014.

I stopped working as a speech-language therapist in December 2014.

Dominican Republic in January 2015.

Eye cancer diagnosis in January 2015.

Photography business launch in spring and summer 2015.

And now a mission trip to AFRICA in the fall of 2015?

How much more could I ask of my husband?

In my head, I knew it would be much better to discuss this in a year or two. That would be much better timing.

But in my heart, in my spirit, in my soul, I had a hunch this wasn’t about my timing, but more about God’s.

So I left myself open to the slight possibility of going to Africa in the fall of 2015.




I received the initial invitation on June 1, 2015.

By June 17th, I had a solid and highly justified hunch the trip was NOT going to happen this time.

By July 7th, I’d given my answer in writing. NO.

On July 20th, God performed a BIG miracle.

I ignored that miracle until August 2nd, to be exact. I hadn’t been sure what to do with that miracle, but God knew EXACTLY what to do with it. He took it into His own hands. Clearly, I wasn’t moving this Africa deal forward with enough vigor. He was going to make this happen whether I liked it or not.

And that August 2nd, it was beautiful really. I’ll always remember the way she looked at me with tears in her eyes. (You know who you are, sweet friend.) The moment she knew in her heart of hearts that I was going to Africa.

And in the oddest series of events that occurred over the next 2-3 weeks, I’ll always remember the moment that same friend told me she wouldn’t be going to Africa. With the same tears in her eyes.

But I’d said, I’d written…

This wasn’t about getting anyone’s approval anymore. This Africa deal was between me and God, and God had made that abundantly clear.

By Saturday, August 29th, I said YES to Africa.

Things were definitely still in the air. Things were definitely NOT 100% clear. The near three-month journey from June 1st to August 29th had been rough, rocky and incredibly spiritually challenging.



I said YES to Africa.

Because God was in on this from day one.

There was no denying it.

I couldn’t shake this feeling I was supposed to go NOW. To Africa. In the fall of 2015. On this particular trip. For such a time as this.


I’d given an absolute NO on July 7th.

God performed a series of straight up miracles.

And by August 29th, I said YES.

How could I deny what He’d done?

How could I deny His plans, His timelines?

This wasn’t about me. This wasn’t about my timelines or my pretty little plans or my best case scenario anymore. This was all about God. His Spirit nudging me again and again and again. His clearing the way. His making a way, whether any of us liked it or not. His desiring for me TO GO. To Africa. Now. As in. NOW.

Friends and family, I want to acknowledge that my retelling of this incredibly life-changing story has been incredibly vague. Much more vague than anything I’d normally share in this space. But this journey has been incredibly personal. This journey will become part of my life story, my lifelong testimony. I’ve documented it in a couple unpublished blog posts, and I’ve tucked away the details in my heart. I won’t forget. Someday, I’ll tell and it’ll make perfect sense and feel good and right in the context of a long-lived life. For now, the story will stay between me, two people who know all the details, and a few others who know some pieces. Some things are meant to stay sacred secret, between us and God.


But this, THIS, is all you need to know.

I planned, wanted, and desired to go to Africa for my whole life, as long as I can remember.

I said NO to Africa twice.

God performed miracles.

And then I said YES.

Which means I’m going to Africa. On a mission trip. Soon!

I’m going to dive straight into details, because no surprise, I’m already running long on words.

  • I’m traveling with a team of 10 to Kenya, Africa.
  • We’ll be gone for 10 days, end of November into early December 2015.
  • All my travel mates are from Minnesota. 5 females. 5 males.
  • We’ve already met twice as a group.
  • Random awesome fact: My first cousin once removed is going on the trip and we had NO IDEA until we arrived at the first meeting and saw each other there! Who knew?! (Okay, so I’m not 100% on the blood relationship. Our parents are first cousins. So what does that make us?)
  • We’re traveling with a nonprofit called Love For Kenya.
  • Love For Kenya is one of our church’s 10 global mission partners, so our church’s mission funds will be covering a portion of our trip.
  • We’ll be staying in huts.

While we’re in Kenya, we’ll be working largely with orphans and widows. We’ll also be doing other ministry, outreach and service projects in the community as we feel called and led through listening prayer. Community ministry might look “as small as” providing encouragement, washing feet, feeding people and giving people clothing, or “as big as” building a home, providing mosquito nets and life-saving medications for a couple hundred people, showing the “Jesus film” to a thousand, and exploring uncharted valleys in an effort to reach people who have never been reached before. We’ll also be heading into the slums one day. It’s hard to say what God has in store. But these details, these possibilities, we know for sure.

The trip is structured, but leaves plenty of room for God to work His plan.


For those of you who are safety minded, our trip will be led by Pastor Randy who’s led 90 mission trips. This will be his 17th mission trip to Kenya. Crazy cool, right? We’ll be 13-16 hours from areas that would be considered unsafe, and will have access to mobile phones. We’ll be together as a group at all times. And local Kenyan friends and partners will be journeying with us once we arrive in Africa.

I’m breathing deep. Sighing. Wondering how this could be true that I’m telling you I’m going to Africa. Now. For such a time as this.

One more important thing…

I will be blogging this trip, just as I did in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. We haven’t discussed details yet as far as what that will look like and when, but I’ll definitely let you know. One way or another, you will be hearing all about this journey to Africa.

And I’m hoping, praying and planning on piloting a photography project I’ve been visioning and dreaming of since January. I’ve already talked to Pastor Randy, our trip leader, about this and he thinks it’s feasible within the structure of our trip.

Keep in mind, I said YES to Africa on August 29th. So we’ve only had 18 days to discuss details.

Speaking of this whole timeline – being invited June 1st, saying NO July 7th, saying YES August 29th, sharing with you all today, and leaving at the end of November – I could use a little help.

You see, I wasn’t planning on Africa.

We weren’t planning on Africa.

I didn’t know God had this in store for me…NOW.

I didn’t know He had this in mind for me…NOW.

I thought my Africa dreams were possibly far fetched, likely for later in life when things will be far more settled. For our 25th wedding anniversary? Yes. For an awesome 65th birthday when I join 10 wise writers and photographers on some awesome writing-photography adventure? Sounds amazing. But right now? Not so much. Didn’t plan that.

Our timelines rarely coincide with God’s.


So back to needing a little help.

Here’s what I could use…

A prayer team

If you’re willing to serve on a prayer team for my trip to Kenya, please leave me a message somewhere, anywhere, along with your email address. I would love some warriors to pray for travels, safety, health and God’s mission to be accomplished while we’re there.

Financial support

When I originally published this post on September 16, 2015, I made a humble request. I needed an additional $550 to fully fund my mission trip to Africa. Thanks to the generous gifts of family, friends and blog readers, the trip is now fully funded! I couldn’t be more grateful. Thank you. (Updated 11/23/15)

Likers & Lovers, Readers & General Supporters 

I need some lovin’ on this, friends. I need some support. Will you encourage me, love me, support me, read the posts I write, lift me up in your thoughts and prayers? Will you encourage me in my photography journey so I’m ready to pilot the project I’ve been dreaming of? Will you be hopeful and expectant? Will you believe there’s a reason God’s sending me to Africa now instead of waiting until my 25th anniversary or 65th birthday? Will you set aside doubt, worry and disbelief for the sake of encouragement? Will you believe in this journey, this mission? Will you will believe with me and for me? I would so greatly appreciate it.

Thank you, friends. Thank you.


I stayed up until 1:10 a.m. writing this and I’m in for a long day ahead. After the kids left for school this morning, the doorbell rang. It was our 4-year-old neighbor boy. When I opened the door, he looked me in the eye and whispered “Your butterfly is going to fly away now.” It was truly the most miraculous thing ever to me. I ran to grab my camera. The caterpillar my daughter put in a bucket weeks ago and had been keeping on our porch had just broken from its chrysalis. It was on a fern next to the bucket. Our sweet neighbor boy notified me just in time. We watched its first moments free, its first flight. It was amazing. Miraculous. God’s confirmation for me this morning. Fly, dear one. Fly.

All photo credits (except the butterfly) to Love for Kenya.





Kenya_smallbuttonThis post serves as the landing page for my trip to Kenya, Africa, with the nonprofit organization, Love for Kenya, in 2015. All the posts I write about the trip will be listed and linked here, at the bottom of this blog post. You’ll also find this Kenya graphic displayed on the right sidebar of my blog homepage. Click on the graphic anytime, and you’ll be brought right back here where you’ll find all the blog posts in one place!


To read other posts in the series about my trip to Africa, click on the title below:

Africa. When STAY RIGHT BY ME is All God Asks.

One More Day and We’ll Be On Our Way

The Sweet Song of Shangilia Orphanage

God’s Good, Good Work

Home. A Blessing and Dream Come True.

Less Productivity. More Connectivity. The Lesson I Had to Learn in Africa.

On Earth, As It Is In Heaven

Good Love and Good Bye

Messy. Slummy. Safari Beautiful.

Africa. The Untold Stories.

  1. Rachel Arntson says:

    What an amazing trip! Thank you for sharing. It makes me anxious to go back again someday. We will see.

  2. Nicole Bobda says:

    Amy, I’m so so excited for you!! Thank you for sharing this, especially about God’a timing vs our timing. I LOVE Africa, but have never been to Kenya. So excited for you to have this experience. I believe it will be AMAZING!! Really looking forward to seeing your pictures and reading about your trip. God is with you!

  3. Christy Davis says:

    sooooooooo excited for you! God’s going to blow your socks off and I am so encouraged by your YES! 🙂

  4. Kris Neff says:

    Beautiful story from an amazing lady! 100% support you in every way! You filled my eyes with tears at your humble nature and such a spirit of loving all humanity. God only chooses the best for his work Amy, he knows what he is doing. Trust and Obey.


    • Amy says:

      Thank you, Kris. Your words are humbling and honoring to my heart, my mind and my soul. Thank you for taking time out of your day to read, and to leave words of encouragement. God bless.

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