Feeling especially grateful on a recent night, I whispered, “Thank you, God, for this day,” as I closed my eyes. This small prayer has now become a regular practice. I have found that releasing the day in gratitude helps to settle my soul and quiet my mind for a more restful night. Whatever the day has held, whatever tomorrow will bring, I practice thanking God for the gift of life as I surrender myself into God’s care.

“Practice” is a good word for this, because there are times when I find the surrendering difficult. There are times when I still awaken during the night and all sorts of concerns soon invade my mind. I marvel at the number of new worries that arise, worries that were hidden during the daylight hours. But worrying doesn’t solve the problems; sleep only comes when I can release them back to God. The release brings the relief I need for my peaceful rest.

And I notice that a deeper, genuine peace has come when I — in desperation — have surrendered my entire being, my entire life and those I love, into God’s care. In my times of cancer, marital struggles (and eventual divorce), and other worrisome uncertainties, I actually felt a physical sense of relief, a lightness of being, when I finally surrendered myself to God. My prayers changed from pleas for each concern to “Whatever happens, God, my loved ones and I are in your good care – and we will be okay.” Individual worries then seemed to wane; let them come, I am being held by God.

When we can entrust ourselves to God, our surrender becomes both a release and a relief. The trials will come, but we are never left to face them alone. Our concerns, our outcomes, and our control are lovingly held by the One who remains the infinitely gracious, divine mystery beyond our comprehension.

When we let go, God holds us.

Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go. ~ Hermann Hesse

(Photo by Karen)

Quote found at


I glimpse your bright splendor in the morning sunrise.

I calm in your surprising peace during difficult times.

I smile at your joy in the unique beauty of each flower.

I hear your reassuring voice in the stillness of the night.

I marvel at your healing touch on this weary soul.

I notice your gentle nudges that move me to action.

I relish your inspiration shared through gifted artists and musicians.

I praise your unconditional acceptance with the imperfect song of my heart.

I feel your mercy and grace with every tear of recognition of my failures.

I anticipate my future with the hope found in your promises.

I grow in trust with every experience of your unfailing, constant presence.

I humble in your magnificence as I consider the universe; my smallness within it.

I bask in the warmth of your love radiating through spouse, family, friends.

I love you.

And oh, how I know you love me…

and yet this is but a tiny revelation

of your complete and infinite love

that is still to come, forever and always.

(February 2017)

(I have had a few busy but delightful weeks with grandchildren, so I’m resharing this post from several years ago. This photo was taken on one of my morning walks at Swan Creek Metropark, Toledo.)


I have been listening to the four meditative Prayer Cycles found at the Abbey of the Arts Podcast. Each prayer session includes a series of readings, prayers, and music for contemplative reflection, as well as a three-minute pause for silence. Initially I tried listening to these at home, but when I tried to be quiet and still, my mind would race. Eventually I discovered that I could remain more attentive during my daily walks; the physical movement helped clear and quiet my mind. And yet, on a recent morning walk, I checked my phone because I thought I had lost my podcast signal. I had forgotten that this was the silent time offered during the session!

Laughing at myself, I then recalled another time when I went to a four-day silent retreat at a spiritual center. On the first morning, I happily greeted, “Good morning!” as a gracious nun passed me in the hallway. She pleasantly smiled – and kept walking – as I clapped my hand over my mouth. And all through the day, I continued to feel unproductive and restless in the silence. I decided to leave the following afternoon, my four days reduced to two.

Aside from the struggle to quiet myself, I have also questioned the purpose of silence, often inwardly asking, “What’s the point?” In those moments when I’m open to freely listen and be fully present to God, I seem to come away empty. When I am “successful” at silence, I often feel as if I have wasted my time – and God’s. For in trying to give God an opportunity to speak, my attempts to inhibit my own thoughts seem to inhibit everything else. Perhaps even a word from God!

But I plan to continue this practice of silence with God. Because (at least for me) maybe the purpose of silence is to have no purpose. The practice of stillness reminds me that I do not always need to achieve, learn, improve, glean, or even hear. I can dwell in a purposeless and pointless time, to rest in holy presence, and let this be enough. My desire to seek perfection or inspiration in the silence actually reveals my insecurity about being beloved – just as I am – by God. My struggle for stillness confirms that my worth will not be found in any prayerful proficiency, but rather, my inadequacy reveals God’s significant love for me.

Keeping silent time with God is becoming a sacred practice of wrestling with myself while resting in God’s love. My faulty attempts at silence invite me to remain with what is, to humbly acknowledge my struggle, to sense God’s loving presence even without my cooperation, to learn to accept my own humanity, and then to increasingly extend that gracious acceptance to all the complexities of life.


After writing the first draft of this post, I went for another walk. In a lovely God-moment, I heard another podcast speaker refer to this verse from 2 Corinthians:

(The Lord) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 
(2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NRSVUE)

I laughed again. In holy humor, God brought meaning and purpose to my thoughts on ‘pointless’ silence. God will continue to reveal loving goodness, lessons to glean, and words of wisdom – without needing any help from me.

Bible passage found at
Photo by Karen



My hourglass is at that time;
more sand has passed
than what remains.
It seems the hours of my life
are not unlike
those transient grains.

May we cherish, hold as sacred,
this current time
now held in view.
The present moment is a gift,
one precious grain
just passing through.

With gratitude and reverence,
let’s live this day
in joy and love,
and focus on that center sand,
not what’s below
or yet above.

In looking to the narrow glass
and beholding
every minute,
we’ll find in each surprising grain
held within it.

With this perspective, we need not
lament the sand
that’s passed before;
nor worry with uncertainty
of how much sand
is yet in store.

When our hourglass has finished,
forever loved,
our life will be
beyond the hours and sands of time,
eternal and
forever free.

For Betty.
Photo by Karen.


The past is the beginning of the beginning
and all that is and has been
is but the twilight of the dawn.
~ H. G. Wells

Drop at the foot of the cross…
every wound we have kept
every tear we have wept
every burden we have borne
every shackle we have worn.

Bury in the darkness of the tomb…
each grudge held so long
each doubt kept, though wrong
each resentment relished
each judgment embellished.

Wait in the silent stillness of night…
in watchful attention
in prayerful intention
in thoughtful exploration
in quiet expectation.

Rise in the dawn of a bright new day…
with bodies replenished to labor
with senses restored to savor
with minds renewed to ponder
with souls refreshed to wonder.

Emerge in the freedom of the rolled-away stone…
to walk in faith, not fear
to hold one another dear
to grow with open mind
to live a life that’s kind.

As Jesus has risen, so may our goodness, too. Easter blessings to you, dear friends.

(Photo by Karen)



Light increasing
Days lengthening
Darkness waning

Shadow remaining.

Cardinals singing
Buds revealing
Nestlings peeping

Silence keeping.

Hope warming
Peace softening
Love surrounding

Grief abounding.

Tomb opening
Life emerging
Joy unfolding

Cross beholding…

(Photo by Karen)


(Thanks to Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Roseville, MN for the image.)

I tried this Holy Week nature walk a few days ago, and found it be a reflective, unique way to remember the incredible stories of the week. I was surprised that I could find something appropriate for each of the descriptions listed. This walk was yet another reminder that when we pay attention, we can find God everywhere, always revealing love. Here are the photos; I put them in order of the biblical narrative.

Mark 11:8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. (a leafy branch)

Mark 14:3 While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. (something broken)

Mark 14:17 When it was evening, he came with the twelve. (twelve of something – two are close together)

Luke 22:14 When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. (a table)

John 13:5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. (water)

John 13:34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. (a heart)

Mark 15:17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and after twisting some thorns into a crown they put it on him. (something thorny)

John 19:5 So Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” (something purple)

Mark 15:21 They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. (a cross)

Mark 15:46 Then Joseph bought a linen cloth and, taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. (a stone)

John 19:40 They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. (a sweet scent)

Mark 14:72 At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, “Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept. (the sound of a bird)

Mark 16:6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. (something empty)

Luke 24:5 The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here but has risen. (something springing to life)

John 20:19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors were locked where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” (something hiding)


May new life…
given in Christ,
displayed in springtime,
offered in each moment,
bring you every hope and joy this season.

Bible verses are the NRSVUE found at
(Photos by Karen)


This week, as we revisit the biblical stories leading up to Easter, imagine how confused the disciples must have felt about Jesus. How quickly their days changed! In one week, they most likely experienced so many emotions – joy as people waved and cheered for their beloved rabbi, frustration as Jesus risked getting into more trouble with the religious authorities, tenderness as they shared a final meal together, humility as he washed feet and instructed them to serve one another, confusion as Jesus prayed while they slept in the garden, fear and anger as he was arrested, agony as he suffered, and then grief and bewilderment as he died. Moving swiftly from triumph to tragedy, life with their beloved rabbi could no longer make sense.

Until the resurrection.

These stories also speak to the stories of our lives. As we follow our beloved rabbi Jesus, we share in the joy of his life and love, but we have the confusing, difficult, frustrating, humbling, frightening, and grieving times as well. Jesus is our helper, mentor, and guide for all of our days. But, like the disciples, we can be surprised and dismayed when our days with him don’t go as we had hoped or anticipated. We have both the triumphs and the tragedies. Sometimes our circumstances make sense, and sometimes we are left bewildered.

Until the resurrection.

With his resurrection, the disciples then knew that everything Jesus had said was true. His life had exemplified God’s visible, present love with them. His miraculous appearance among them revealed that life held so much more than their current experiences; that life is a sacred and eternal mystery beyond every heartache and hardship. His promise to always be with them would help them through whatever life would bring. They were then inspired to continue in loving service with new courage, trust, and joy.

And so can we. With his resurrection, Jesus’ life story brings a deeper meaning and a greater holy mystery to our own. His resurrection becomes an invitation for us to live life anew, to see beyond what is, to imagine what could be. Through his resurrection, his presence remains with us in every circumstance. And we can live our days in loving service – with renewed courage, trust, and joy – no matter what life may bring.

(Photo by Karen)


Now comes another heartbreak,
another tragedy;
there isn’t one clear answer,
but it’s more than “wait and see”.

Each time there is a shooting,
it seems we point and name
the issues that affect us least,
for “We aren’t the ones to blame.”

There isn’t one solution
to relieve our griefs and cares
but this is surely going to take
much more than thoughts and prayers.

We can help correct what’s wrong
by regulating rights.
How could our inconvenience
outweigh the loss of life?

We can comfort those in pain
by speaking for the silenced.
Life will never be the same
for those caught in this violence.

We can join them in their grief,
to mourn and to lament,
then look within our broken selves;
how might we too, repent?

We can expand perspectives
to include the good of all,
to overcome our differences,
to prevent another fall.

We can smile with tenderness
and welcome someone in,
reach out to help the hurting,
then new life to begin.

We can discover beauty
in our rich diversity,
embracing one another
in love and unity.

Together, let’s envision
how wars and wounds might cease,
by walking in the harmony
of justice, love, and peace.

May our weapons and our words
be finally set aside,
as open hearts and empty hands
in gentleness abide.

Oh, may a brighter day arrive
as we move proactively
to live in lovingkindness
and consider all as “we”.

And yet another heartbreak,
another tragedy;
there isn’t one clear answer…

but I know it starts with me.

(Photo by Karen)


I recently asked a friend, “What do you sense your soul needs most in this time of life?” His reply has remained with me, for I imagine many of us share this same longing:


Being accepted by others – with all of our inadequacies or imperfections – is a wonderful gift that lessens our own doubts and insecurities. When we are accepted in a relationship or as part of a greater whole, our self-worth and esteem are bolstered. We are considered good enough, worthy enough to be included.

But God graciously loves us even more than this. God’s love goes beyond merely accepting to genuinely embracing. According to Merriam-Webster, to accept can be as great as “to receive (something offered) willingly” but as little as “to endure without protest or reaction.” To embrace is “to cherish, love, encircle… welcome” and “to take up especially readily or gladly.”

Two weeks ago, I shared a post about the parable of the lost sheep, in which Jesus depicts God as a loving shepherd who will never leave us behind. Jesus tells two additional stories in Luke 15 – the woman who searches for the lost coin, and the father who runs to greet his errant, prodigal son. In all three of these examples, Jesus conveys how God values and treasures us, how God eagerly seeks and reaches for us. God’s love isn’t a patient resignation that we are loved anyway, but an active desire to love us in every way. God isn’t standing there telling us, “I receive and accept you.” God is running for us, saying, “I seek and embrace you.”

Because God’s love reaches out to embrace us, we can then embrace ourselves, one another, and all of life with this same love. We can accept our imperfections, but also embrace them to use for the good of others. We can accept our inadequacies, but also embrace them as vessels to be filled with God’s goodness. We can accept one another, but also embrace one another as beloved of God. We can accept what life brings, but also embrace each moment with gratitude and joy.

May you feel the longing, seeking, reaching, embracing love of God today.
You are cherished.
You are treasured.
You are loved.

http://Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash