The 12-Hour Turnaround

It is amazing what rejuvenation can come from a get-away. Lydia and I spent almost a week in Illinois, while we visited family and a few friends. It was just the ‘reset’ I needed.

Usually, we drive there and back in two days, stopping overnight each time. This adds a couple extra days to our trip—which is fun, but not always feasible. So, this time, we drove for twelve hours all in one day to Illinois and then the same road trip back to Fargo.

Now we have taken this route numerous times in nearly six years. And we have done the long all-day trek several times too. But this time was different.

sunrise from car

On this road trip, I needed a major turnaround. Yes, an attitude readjustment!

It could’ve been related to not sleeping well the night before. Perhaps it was the sense of leaving family and comfort behind. Maybe there were other factors too—like postponing breakfast—but I was in a funky mood at the beginning of the trip!

It was still dark as we started out. After a little while, Lydia fell back asleep. As I listened to her soft snoring, I started to reflect upon all we were driving back toward (in Fargo). There’s nothing like a little distance to give you some perspective!

Before, on the way to Illinois, we were driving toward family. But, as we drove back to Fargo, there was a void. I also realized as the third-year mark of Dave’s death approaches, we have been making these trips without him longer than with him.

I continued thinking about lessons learned, how many things have changed. Lydia has grown so much! Also, at least eight families—much of our support system—have moved away for various reasons. Though, God has been faithful to provide new friends and a wonderful drop-in daycare!

Other aspects of our lives are fairly steady. I’ve taken huge leaps forward, yet I feel there is still so much to do. Sometimes it is overwhelming. Though we love calling Fargo home—and have no plans to move—it has not been without challenges.

As we made our way North, I turned on the radio. I have a SiriusXM subscription which is awesome for traveling. I don’t use it often in Fargo, but on Monday, I was thankful for the encouraging words on The Message (Channel 63).

With God-focused songs, like Trust in You by Lauren Daigle, I knew I needed to give all my fears and frustrations to God. When I fear, I forget God’s faithfulness. But, the truth is, the Lord has been so, so good to me. He is kind, generous, and trustworthy. I don’t have to worry, because the He is in charge of all the details.

two arrows

As the hours rolled by, Lydia and I sang and talked. As I feasted on God’s grace and truth, a weight lifted. The closer we got to Fargo, the more light-hearted I became. Soon I was confident, hopeful, and trusting God again. What a relief knowing I don’t walk this path alone!

God continually gives me opportunities to trust Him at a deeper level. Oddly enough, I found new motivation to make some changes I previously resisted. My resistance is not on purpose, but I can be stubborn!

Being stuck in my car, I was open-minded to make changes regarding my daily routine. It’s funny how sitting in the car all day makes me want to switch up my exercise plan! 😉 Now, I have a renewed vision for Fargo and am excited to see all the Lord has in store!

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

Following God is not always comfortable or easy. But, it is so worth it. God is for me not against me. He gently redirects me when I get off track. I can trust Him because He loves me so much!


Father God, thanks for Your unrelenting grace and love. Thanks for never giving up on me. Lord, I need You—I cannot make it on my own. Help me trust You more and more. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: What are your favorite music tunes for the car? Has God ever changed your heart during a road trip?

Finding Grace #3

I love the concept of giving God a shout out for what He has done.

We don’t do that nearly enough!

You may have seen the acronym GRACE as “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” Grace is also defined as God’s unmerited favor. I often find grace overflowing in God’s love, joy, peace, blessings, mercy, power, provision, protection, and wisdom. Thank You, Jesus!

Easter egg pic

Where did I find God’s love and favor—His abundant grace—this week?

1. This week we drove almost twelve hours to Illinois to visit family for Easter. We left before dawn and within five minutes, I heard, “Are we there yet?!” Lydi was very excited to see everyone! We chatted about the moon and watched a glorious sunrise. We pointed out cows, sheep, and points of interest. Lydi colored pictures, read some books, and napped. Thanks, God, for safe travels.

2. Historically, when we’d visit Illinois, I’d try to see as many people as I can…extended family, old friends, former coworkers, etc.  However, I’d end up exhausted from driving all around the state. I have discovered it works better to organize mini gatherings of people to see several people at once. We did that this trip; it was so refreshing! I am so thankful for my family!

3. I told Lydia that the Easter bunny is “kind-of-like-Santa Claus” (not really real). Don’t worry. She wasn’t phased. As a matter of fact, she quickly directed me, “Well then, YOU can still do something with the Easter eggs.” 🙂 I love my little negotiator!

Then, my brother, my sister-in-law (his wife), and my brother-in-law all helped me hide eggs for a fun egg hunt. I was blessed to have some help in creating fun memories for Lydia. God has given Lydi wonderful aunts and uncles who love her!

4. Tomorrow is Resurrection Sunday. I am encouraged by Romans 5:8 which explains ultimate grace, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” There is nothing we can do to deserve God’s love.

Jesus loved us when we were unlovely and covered in the darkness of sin. He doesn’t love us more when we act well, or love us less on our bad days. He died in our place and triumphed over Death. He rose and conquered the grave…and makes us alive with Him. Thank You, Jesus! We’re more than conquerors tooif we love Jesus and accept His sacrifice on our behalf! (Have you done that yet?)

5. I can easily get caught up in the busyness of every day life in Fargo. Being a single mom takes special effort too. Sometimes, it is best to lay aside my to-do list and rest. One day, in Illinois, ‘Tappa’ (my dad) took us to the local zoo. As we reached an outdoor exhibit, we looked for the animal. I didn’t see anything right away, but Lydia did. “Wow, look at all the little cardinals!”

After this relaxing trip to see our loved ones, and seeing Lydia’s joy in little things, I am reminded that God knows just what I need.


These are only a few examples, but God’s grace never runs out!

There’s grace in every situation—we just need to look for it. God promises if we seek Him, we will find Him! (see Jeremiah 29:13)!

Where did YOU see or experience God’s grace this week?

Perfect Peace for An Imperfect Puzzle

In my guest room, I have a framed Thomas Kinkade puzzle. It’s so pretty with the calming colors and serene view. It’s one of my favorites, and there’s a funny story behind it, too!

Years ago, when I was pregnant with Lydia, I had a small ‘bucket list’ to complete before she was born. I knew I’d have little time to myself when she came. I thought a one-thousand-piece puzzle would be a big accomplishment. Great idea, right?!

Puzzle (2)

What was I thinking?!

The puzzle was way more difficult than I imagined! Who knew so many tiny pieces could look exactly alike? It took me several months to complete with a few weeks “off” here and there… Finally, Dave gave me an ultimatum:

Finish the puzzle before the baby comes, or we’re going to toss it.
To be fair, the puzzle had been on the dining room table for months! 🙂

Well, wouldn’t you know that after all that time and effort, I could not find the last piece! Aggh!

(Can you find the ‘hole’ from the missing piece in the picture above?)

Well, Dave framed the puzzle for me and put it on the wall anyway. There’s no way I’d toss it after all that hard work! These days, I still love piecing together puzzles. But, with a little one running around, I have more realistic expectations now!

hands picking up puzzle pieces

Life is not perfect…but, it is still beautiful. In some ways, we’re all like puzzle pieces!

My missing puzzle piece reminds me that each one of us has importance to God. The picture is sadly incomplete if pieces are missing. Also, if a few people don’t do their part, we all suffer. Let’s pull together and use our talents and gifts.

God is in charge of the ‘big picture.’ He knows how the puzzle goes together because it is His design. We are His masterpiece and He misses the lost pieces! We may not see how we all fit until later. But, we can trust Him to guide us into place. Let’s participate cheerfully and help those around us.

We all have unique shapes and functions, but each one has intrinsic value. For instance, there are only four corner pieces along the edges, yet, the corner pieces are not more significant than others along the edge. Some pieces are more prominent, but all pieces are needed for a complete picture.

Humility and good attitudes are key to getting along with those in close proximity. Cover personality differences with grace, and connect with others. Don’t be overly concerned about what is going on in the far corners, but do your part to hold your quadrant together. May we lay aside our pride and include others.

Some puzzle pieces have rough edges and won’t feel like a good fit. God may use them elsewhere eventually, but don’t miss the opportunity to extend them grace. Treat them well. Show them God’s love. Maybe they will become a great fit or dear friend after all! We’re all a work in progress, right?

We can’t fix our own imperfections. The truth is we’ll never will be able to get it all right, all the time! But, we don’t have to worry about our lives or the final outcome. God Himself fills the gaps for us and holds all things together (see Colossians 1:17).


Yes, God has solved the puzzle of peace in our lives. He has shown us His loves through Jesus (Romans 5:8), who gave His life on the Cross to redeem us and bring us His perfect peace. Because of His resurrection, we can be restored and live a new life of purpose.

God’s grace is more than enough for our lack; He fixes and renews what is broken. Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus and the big picture. He who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6).


God, thank You for Jesus! Thanks for the gift of new life You offer. Help us shine Your light as You piece us together, and let Your peace reign in our hearts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Have you accepted God’s gift of new life and peace? Do you have any tricks for keeping all the pieces of a puzzle together?!


Finding Grace #2

I love the concept of giving God a shout out for what He has done.

We don’t do that nearly enough!

You may have seen the acronym GRACE as “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” Grace is also defined as God’s unmerited favor. I often find grace overflowing in God’s love, joy, peace, blessings, mercy, power, provision, protection, and wisdom. Thank You, Jesus!

purple orchid

Where did I find God’s love and favor—His abundant grace—this week?

1. One morning, Lydia decided to make her own breakfast. It was a simple meal, but I’ll take it! She managed to find crackers in the pantry and washed a handful of strawberries in her bathroom sink. (I decided just to be grateful for her independence on that one…!) She also surprised me by getting dressed without being told.

2. This week, I met a writing deadline for a large project. I spent hours sitting and writing the last two weeks, and my FitBit friends noticed I haven’t been as active in our competitions. It was sweet of them to check in and make sure nothing was wrong.

3. Regarding my writing project, I got good feedback with very minor tweaks. I am so thankful because even though I’m working diligently at this goal, sometimes it’s slow progress. It feels good to see God blessing the work I am doing.

4. We had two great ice skating experiences this week! On Monday, our neighbors invited us to join them for ice skating at a local hockey arena. We had our skates on for nearly two hours! Then, this morning, we went to another ice rink for a church volunteer appreciation event. Lydia took some breaks, of course, but she kept trying and did well. Overall, she had a good attitude and we had fun…especially when compared to our earliest ice skating experiences. As we left, she said, “Mom, I love ice skating!”

5. On Monday, I also had a blast skating and even borrowed a hockey stick and some pucks… I have always wanted to play ice hockey (casually) and so I got my fix. I felt like a pro and tried something new! 🙂 It felt like God surprised me with a generous gift because it was so much fun!

6. Some other church friends are in India this week for a mission trip to help serve with a local ministry. As I read updates on social media, I can see God’s love for Calcutta. While my friends are only there for a short time, the local ministry has been serving these beautiful people for over 50 years. It’s amazing what can happen when we follow God’s leading. I’m sure Huldah Buntain had no clue all God would do!

Some numbers from the Calcutta Mercy Ministries website:

10,000 people a day, six days a week, are fed at 12 feeding programs around the city. For many, this is their one nutritious meal for the day.

32,000 kids receive education in 102 schools

40,000 people receive medical assistance each year, at no cost to the patient.

To learn more, please read this article.


These are only a few examples, but God’s grace never runs out!

There’s grace in every situation—we just need to look for it. God promises if we seek Him, we will find Him! (see Jeremiah 29:13)!

Where did YOU see or experience God’s grace this week?

Do You Feel Lucky?!

Do you feel lucky? (Well, do ya, Punk?!) 😉

Tomorrow is March 17th —Saint Patrick’s Day—so remember to wear your green!

I happen to have a little Irish blood on my dad’s side, but many people celebrate even if they’re not Irish. There are so many fun traditions and folklore!

Here’s a picture of Lydia’s first St. Patrick’s Day several years ago. This was a couple months before Dave got sick. Lydia wasn’t even sitting up yet!

Lydia's first St Patrick's Day

Luck is a term we use casually to wish someone well, in the sense of good fortune or success: “Good luck with your presentation today!” Or, it can be used in the negative sense of ‘bad luck’ usually associated with an accident. Occasionally, you’ll even see a sarcastic eye-roll as in, “Yeah…good luck with that!”

Recently, there was an incident that could’ve had a big impact on my finances. I received a message about a fraudulent charge on my debit card. I was concerned because I had just looked at my account ten minutes prior to the call. I hadn’t noticed anything suspicious, so was a little freaked out. I immediately hung up and notified my bank.

Sure enough, someone in Rhode Island spent over $100 at a gas station with my information! I have never been to Rhode Island, and have no idea how that happened!

Needless to say, I am now waiting for a new debit card because my other account was closed. While it’s somewhat inconvenient, I don’t really mind considering the alternative. I was thankful for my bank and the quick response.

Some people might consider me lucky. “Whew, you’re lucky that worked out!” However, I did not feel lucky—I felt LOVED.
I was grateful for God’s grace that covered the situation. He not only provides for me—He protects me, too. Thank You, Jesus, for looking out for me!


I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to leave my life up to accident, luck, lottery, chance, or coincidence. It is dangerous to have my safety, security, and success hinged on something completely unreliable. So what should we do instead?

TRUST GOD. He is Jehovah Jireh, my Provider. His Name shows His character and faithfulness. God is limitless and is more than able to meet our genuine needs. He is generous to give us what we desire too.

Note: For the most part, God is not into instant gratification. Most often we find we have to wait. But as we wait, God refines our desires to and prepares our hearts to receive His best.

Waiting is not passive. It includes praising God, learning more about Him, and being obedient in the present. Waiting grows hope and cultivates patience (see Psalm 37:7). When our focus is on God, not on the stuff we want, our attitude is right.

OBEY. God rewards obediencedoing what He asks us to do. Sometimes, we get rewarded with a promotion at work, or a something new and shiny…sure. But God is not a genie! Our temporary ‘happiness’ is not His utmost goal. Becoming more like His Son, Jesus, carries eternal significance (see Galatians 5:22-23).

PRAY. God loves it when we come to Him. He cares about every detail in our lives! It may take awhile to see the answer—keep praying. God will come through for you. It’s a privilege to pray for others, too. What a blessing to be part of what God is doing for someone else!

Whether God answers YES, NO, or WAIT, be thankful. He says NO on our behalf, so we can say YES to His best. Trust Him; do what He says to do; and keep praying.


“God’s way is perfect. All the LORD’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection” (Psalm 18:30). That’s better than winning the lottery!

Father God, thanks for Your protection. You meet our needs and fill our lives with goodness! Help us to walk in obedience as You faithfully lead us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: How does it feel to know the ‘odds’ are 100% that God hears and answers your prayers? Is it difficult to trust God with the answer, or do you truly leave it up to Him?

Finding Grace #1

Up until now, I have only posted once a week. However, there are often weeks where something special happens that I would love to share. But if it doesn’t fit with my basic “theme” for the month, I just skip over it. Yikes! 😮

My friend, Katie, at My Joy In Chaos, recently posted about where she found joy in her week. I love the concept of giving God a shout out for what He has done.

We don’t do that nearly enough!

So, I’ve decided to do the same thing…but with grace. Each weekend, I’ll recap a few places where I found grace in my week. It will be a slightly different format from my Wednesday posts. My goal is to give God glory and not over-edit. Yes, there’s a huge amount of grace in the rough, uncut moments of our daily lives!

You may have seen the acronym GRACE as “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” Grace is also defined as God’s unmerited favor. I often find grace overflowing in God’s love, joy, peace, blessings, mercy, power, provision, protection, and wisdom. Thank You, Jesus!


So, where did I find the richness of God’s love and favor this week? Where did I see His abundant grace?

1. Lydia’s last gymnastics class was this week. I mentioned to a dear friend it was Parent’s Day at gymnastics, and she asked if she could come too. This friend has been a huge blessing to us over the years, helping watch Lydia and encourage us. I was so thankful she thought ahead, wanted to celebrate Lydia, and kept me company with all the other parents.

Thank You, God for the good friends You have given us!

2. I received God’s grace after Lydia asked me for help learning some letters. I told her to start tracing the ones she knew; I’d be there “when I was finished” with my own project.

Well, after sitting there for awhile (ahem), she repeated her request. A few minutes later, I left my project unfinished to sit with her. I noticed Lydia had such joy and excitement to learn. She even hugged me, saying, “You’re the best mom!”

It was a humbling reminder to remember to put first things first. I won’t always have that time with Lydia, nor does she always think I’m awesome!

3. I saw God’s grace when I took Lydia to drop-in daycare twice in one day for two separate meetings. I actually had to skip another event in lieu of the second meeting. A coworker suggested trying out a second drop-in place—to give me another flexible option. Lydia loved it, and I was thankful for God’s grace during my day.

The next morning, Lydia asked to stay home. I ‘agreed’ since we had been out late the night before. She exclaimed, “I’m glad we don’t have to go anywhere today!”

4.We enjoyed the beautiful weather…Lydia went on a pretend camping trip with her stuffed animals, complete with high heels and tiara! I was glad to be able to see her imagination at work! I also worked on some projects, read some books, and finally got to that dusting I’ve been putting off! 😉 !

5. My mom recently had surgery to replace her right knee. She had the left one done in the fall. I was honored to post updates on her Facebook page. It is amazing to see how her friends have rallied around her to visit, bring meals, encourage her, pray for her, etc. She is an awesome example of grace to me. And, my parents are great examples of how to serve others. It is wonderful to see God’s grace in the healing process. God is so good!


These are only a few examples, but God’s grace never runs out!

There’s grace in every situation—we just need to look for it. God promises if we seek Him, we will find Him! (see Jeremiah 29:13)!

Where did YOU see or experience God’s grace this week?

For When You’re Exhausted

Did you know over seventy countries participate in Daylight Savings Time? Still, that’s less than forty percent of the countries in the world. And, each country has their own ways of using this time change—some do it before or after we do in the United States.

With a few exceptions, most Americans will be changing their clocks this weekend. So consider this your friendly reminder to ‘spring forward’ one hour! Otherwise you will show up to work or church an hour late. (You’re welcome!) 🙂


While it is wonderful to have more daylight, the time change messes with our sleeping patterns. While we really only lose one hour on one day, it takes a little while to adjust. Kids get up an hour earlier, which can upset morning and evening routines. Also, there are increased health risks associated with the time change and the lack of sleep overall.

It’s no surprise that several studies have shown we need more sleep than we are getting. Like many other people, I often stay up late and get up early, still trying to run the entire solar system. Remember, S.T.R.E.S.S.?? It’s a hard habit to break!

After a little nudge from the Lord, my primary goal for the year is to… get more sleep. Like a minimum of seven hours on most nights. I know, I’m living on the edge! That’s still not enough; however, I am working on daily progress. And now that I am getting more shuteye, I certainly notice when I average closer to five or six hours.

Getting more sleep means…less wakeful hours…and thus, less time to accomplish tasks. So, I am trusting God to help me use my time wisely and accomplish all He has for me to do.

Yes, this means turning off the lights when I still feel the need to do something! It’s a struggle because I like to check things of my to-do list. For example, I often have to postpone household chores… 😉 But who really cares about dusting, anyway?!

Mainly, I aim for a more consistent bedtime routine, and swapping stimulating activities (ie. electronics) with more quiet tasks like reading books (another personal goal). But I am still learning what works best.

Often, it comes down to realizing I am wasting time or am no longer productive. Just last night, I almost got sucked into an online article about ‘secrets’ to help you sleep better. Awesome! But then I thought, “Um, I could actually just go to sleep!”


Going to bed earlier has its perks—like actually waking up rested and unhurried. But maybe the time change doesn’t affect you this weekend. Even if you just have trouble waking up or going to bed at a certain time, here are some helpful Bible verses to consider:

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly” (Psalm 5:3).

“Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow.
Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you” (Psalm 25:4-5).

“But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble” (Psalm 59:16).

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life” (Psalm 143:8).


“It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late,
and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don’t you know He enjoys
giving rest to those He loves?” (Psalm 127:2).

Dear reader, God does not want us to be exhausted. Let’s rest and trust Him to help us make wise and healthy choices all throughout the day.

Father God, thanks for Your steadfast love. Your mercies are new every morning. Teach me to number my days. Help me use my time wisely and trust You more. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Do you struggle with getting adequate sleep? What is one change you could make in your routine? Do you have any other helpful key Scriptures to share?

After the Leap

Did you do anything special to celebrate Leap Day this week?

For me, it was mostly like a regular day. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Lydia in her gymnastics class. There were moments when I laughed wholeheartedly at the kids’ antics. They were trying so hard!

Their attempts at cartwheels, crab walks, and the balance beam had me rolling. These cute tumblers practiced somersaults and log rolls. They jumped on a trampoline, chased each other, and crawled through tunnels. The kids had such joy!

There was plenty of leaping, jumping and even some marching. When the kids fell, they got back up. When they failed, they started over. Occasionally, they asked the teacher for help. Other times, they skipped over a station if they didn’t know what to do. Interestingly, none of the kiddos were concerned if they landed correctly or not.

They were carefree and having fun!


As you know, February 29th only comes every four years. That’s 1461 days. Yet, it goes by quickly. When I consider that four years ago, I had an infant and today, I have a preschooler…WOW!!

I also think about all that has happened in those four years, including a baby, parenthood, cancer, widowhood, grief, hard work, writing, serving, and lifelong friends.

Perhaps the last four years have turned out differently than you expected. Likely, you faced some disappointments too. Yet, most things turned out way better than I could have ever imagined. I am grateful and forever amazed to see God’s hand in it all.

It’s curious that there are a few days between Leap Day and March 4th (Forth)… What happens between leaping and marching forward? To me, that middle ground represents that transition time spent adjusting… changing… waiting… and overcoming doubt. It’s like the struggle before the victory. After the leap, it’s necessary to steady your feet before you can take any ground.


Maybe you leaped into a new venture recently and aren’t sure what to do next. It probably looked exciting at first, but are you facing uncertainty now? Maybe you didn’t land where you anticipated or you’ve lost your footing.

Remember: It’s okay to pause and ask the Teacher for direction or clarity. God is eager to help us when we ask! Take some time and regroup, sure. Refocus and get some perspective.

Find your balance, yes. But don’t wait too long and don’t let fear stop you. “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (1 Timothy 1:7).

Taking things day by day can make time seem slow—and it can be difficult to see progress. But don’t be discouraged or lose hope. By faith, trust that God’s plan for you is good. Get excited about what He is doing and have fun! There’s great joy in His presence!

jumping off table

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him” (Psalm 28:7).

Whatever happens in the next 1461 days, don’t worry about the outcome or end results! Let the Lord set your pace. Soon you’ll look back with amazement at how far you’ve come. And yes, God will work it for good if you trust Him (see Romans 8:28).

So keep your head up and keep marching!

God, You know all of our days before any of them ever occur. Thank You for being with us on each step of our journey. Helps us keep moving forward. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: What would you like to see happen during these next four years? What steps are you taking to move forward?