What we can see in the smoke (even if we can’t see through it)

August in the Boise area usually means smoke in the valley.

Whether from Idaho fires, or those from Oregon and Washington, it’s not uncommon to have poor air quality and visibility this time of year. In addition to my general distaste for southern Idaho summer heat, I am saddened every year to think of the devastation the fires bring to our forests. I know the fiery heat births new life from the pinecones to regenerate the wooded hillsides, but it still bothers me to see the char-scarred hills.

Yet I learn something beautiful from the smoke and its carnage. Read More

For when grown women have tantrums over what to wear

What to WearWhen my daughter was young, getting her dressed was a chore. 

It shouldn’t have been so hard… she had both a closet and dresser burgeoning with darling Gymboree ensembles. Nevertheless, our morning routines were never pleasant. Many hours were lost to screaming fits over the necessity of wearing pants, shoes and shirts. (She may not have been the only one screaming.)

Tights were the worst offenders. She was certain those tights were going to end up around her ankles. Read More

What $10 can do (Lessons from Lent)

What $10 Can DoHave you ever thought your chump change couldn’t change a life?

In the comment section of last week’s post, I mentioned that I was observing seven types of fasts during the course of Lent this year. (Care to join me? Tell me in the comments below and I’ll add you to our virtual book group.)

As part of my “food fast” last week I tallied the cost of the food I ate each day. This cultivated in me new mindfulness of not just the expense, but of how readily I buy food for convenience, not nutrition or need.

It’s just $10. Or is it?  Read More

The Heart is the Matter

Whether you’re studying Amos with us or not, you’ll find some relevance in his words from chapter four. Feel free to join the dialog in the comments, too!

Are you calling me a cow?

Amos’ opening line in chapter four initially pulled me up short, much as I expect it did his hearers way back when.

Hear this word, you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria,
you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy
and say to your husbands, “Bring us some drinks!”
— Amos 4:1 NIV

But he’s got our attention now, doesn’t he? Read More

In my hand

They were so little.

I watched my daughters, mere toddlers, playing near each other in the family room on the carpet, each with a toy of her choosing.

My youngest asked my eldest for the bauble she was currently enjoying. This was an unwelcome request, so eldest daughter searched the sprawl of toys in orbit around her. She selected one and handed it ever so sweetly to her younger sister. One might expect me to have been proud at that moment, delighting in the so-called sharing that had just taken place.

But I wasn’t.  Read More

Fireworks, Lemonade and Salvation: But Why?

Independence Day: The day we celebrate our liberation from England and rejoice in the freedoms we have as Americans.

I offer sincere thanks to the many who fought for those freedoms (and those who continue to defend them). As a country, we enjoy parades and fireworks, BBQ, brownies and lemonade — and a day off of work. This is truly a national party. It is worthy of celebration. Yet somehow I can’t help thinking that we’ve somewhat missed the point.

Read More

From Wallowing to Following

As I woke to yet another round of snow heaped all over the driveway, patio and sidewalk, I knew what my afternoon’s activity would be: shoveling.

This was a beautiful blanket. Probably four inches worth of sticky, thick snow. I leaned into the task and mucked my way toward the curb. I began with gusto, enthusiastic (almost) for the opportunity for exercise that didn’t involve a gym or a video. I paused occasionally to enjoy the sunshine and the sound of water dripping off the roof.

Eventually my pauses became more frequent; I grew tired. My mood sloped downhill with my driveway. Pretty soon, I was standing in the gutter, both physically and mentally.  Read More

Name that Dollar

What if every dollar we earned had a name on it?

In the sixth chapter of 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, Jen Hatmaker defined consumerism as spending money on our own desires. Charity, by contrast, she depicted as a river of dollars selflessly sent towards the needs of others.

As I considered the benefits of a spending fast, I realized how utterly disconnected I am from my money. Yes, I budget our money and search carefully for high value purchases as a matter of stewardship. I pay for my goods and services with a debit card, not credit. But the simple fact that I lay plastic on the counter, not cash, has created an imperceptible buffer between me and the monies I spend. I sign the little sheet of slick, white register tape for the sum of my purchase without the effort — or thought — of counting out the dollars necessary to complete the transaction. Read More