The Boy in the Pool

Cold water beads on his nose. Bracing for the chill he dives in, arms like oars pulling him onward; his legs a propeller, beating steadily against the watery surface. A few strokes in and he comes up for air, turns his head, fills his lungs, and returns to the grind of the training session. They have many meters to swim today, and he’s only just begun.

High above in the mezzanine I sit watching my son. From up here he looks so small. So skinny and sleek in the water, just a kid in the sea of swimmers. But up close you can see the muscles forming under his skin. You can see his back broadening, his legs becoming more powerful, his arms growing longer with every stroke. Each week he gets a little stronger, and every so often, they promote him up a lane, swimming further and further from the wall of protection. Out into the middle, into the deep, where only the strong ones are sent.

Before long practice is over, and he is spent. He heaves himself out of the water, breathless and exhausted, but smiling. He fist-bumps his friends, he pals around with his teammates, he thanks his coach for a good practice. The drills are tough, but he has found his tribe. Camaraderie, commitment, and team spirit run high on this pool deck, and there is no room for half-hearted swimmers. This is a group of generous, encouraging kids, most of them. But there’s an unspoken agreement of reciprocity that follows. The team ranks higher than the individual, and he instinctively knows to be part of this team means laying yourself down and supporting others, in and out of the water.

Stepping to the side and drying off, he looks taller, older. He stands there, surrounded by his friends, on his own two feet. And at 11 years old, they are no longer the little newborn toes I held in the palm of my hand and kissed the day he was born. No, they are the feet of a growing man. And what a proud moment it is, watching him glow at the threshold of strength and maturity.

I rest in confidence that those sturdy legs will not fail him one day as they propel him through waters far more chaotic than those of the pool that sits below me. The enthusiastic arms that reach out to high five his teammates will soon reach out to help those in need. And the breath he is learning to discipline into a rhythm in the pool will soon serve as the lesson that will discipline him to stay the course when life sucks him into the deep end. As he heads toward the locker room of his youth, I can sense the waves he makes as a man will have a much farther-reaching affect.

Because the boy I watch in the pool is steadfast; he’s smart, kind, and willing to work hard. He lives up to his name, Crew, “working together,” as if on the day he was born we spoke a promise over who he would become. Already he has a deep drive to work for the good even when it’s hard, to uphold the order, the standard, and to give from that big heart God entrusted him with.

One day not far from now he will captain his own team, his own family, his own crew. And it won’t surprise me in the least. Because he’s been our team captain since day one.

It is then that the training of his childhood will resound in his heart, and he’ll know what he needs to do. He’ll remember the effort it takes to overcome long grinds, the discipline required for success, the character needed to do right by others, and the sacrifice, loyalty, and commitment that love for anything requires. 

He stands poolside, glistening. Is it just the water beading on his skin, or is it light beaming from inside? God is not far from calling the boy in the pool to the sacred task of manhood, and I already know deep in my heart that he will rise to the challenge.

Practice is over. Backpack over his shoulder, he leads the way as we head to the car. The road stretches before him. And with a smile, he grows to meet it.

The Ballad of You and Me


When you were a boy, you fell off of your bike.
When I was a girl, I fell into your arms.
I gave you my words, my smiles, my dreams.
You won me over with your adventure and charms.
God breathed His glory,
Spun a fairy tale story.
You were my world,
And I was your angel.
So you asked for my hand,
You gave me a band—

Gold inset with
sparkling, precious stones.

Honeymoon lasted three years and a fortnight.
Babies swooped in and took all our spotlight.
Toys in the kitchen, days filled with crying
Sibling rifts and tweenage lying.
Our life got real busy,
the kids made us dizzy.
I spin and I whirl
trying to find you.
But there on my desk,
lies your love letter.
And you ask me to dance,
I’ll do you one better.

And give you my heart,
right down to it’s precious stones.

Everyone wants a love like we’ve got
but nobody knows the battles we’ve fought.
The burdens we carry,
the shoulders grown weary—
from the dreams we’ve chased down,
from the ones that we’ve died to.
You turn out the light, our prayers filled with sighing.
I lay by your side, we never stop trying.

It’s why our love holds
through cracks in the precious stones.

Onward we hike, through briars and daisies,
Pushing uphill, adventure’s awaiting.
Trudging’s hard work.
It wrinkles the skin,
breaks down the body
but build souls within.
One day we’ll look back
and admire the glory.
The critics may mock
but we’ll know the story

of what trails behind us—
worn path forged of precious stones.

I started writing of two stones in a river.
Didn’t know then God would give us a quiver.
They came and they grow and one day they’ll leave,
step out to discover their own mysteries.
Still we’ll wade in the blue eddies and whirlpools
Dig in the sand, scoop up the jewels.
In the cold and deep, with your hand in mine,
we’ll learn all the lessons He gives us to find.

Our love, it’s so rich.
Our treasure the outcome
of two hearts knit to one
by the River we’ve come from.

Love, can you see?
We’re the two precious stones.

Great of Heart and Soul

You are the boy of heart and soul. A child with such gusto and strength, it seems as if nothing is too much for you. You tackle it all head on with skill, determination, and zeal. 

Even at your young age, you push when everyone else would give up. You’re independent and curious, determined and decisive. It doesn’t matter that you’re the youngest—you will attempt whatever your siblings are up to. As baby number four, you learned early on in life that if you want something, you better get after it right away, because by the time mom gets around to helping you out, you could have easily just done it yourself.

And despite your mere 3 years, the leader in you is already rising up, taking charge, and forging ahead. No matter that you’ll have to climb the pantry shelves to reach the chocolate bar hidden on top. You’ll happily risk losing fingers to a knife in order to cut up an apple on your own. Arching your back and stamping your foot, you’ll scream all the words you know to tell me where I stand in your world. You hold nothing back to get everything you want.

And so most days are exhausting with you, little bear. But not because you are always naughty or disobedient or misbehaving (although you have your moments, like any other child). At the end of each day, I’m worn out because of your capacity. You push yourself and everyone around you to go bigger, to do more, to be better. All day you test the limits and expend every drop of energy, leaving nothing on the table except the fried wits of your mother.

But just when I think all hope is lost and that I may not live to see you to the otherside of toddlerhood, every once in a while in a rare, quiet moment, I’ll hear you from the other room. There you are, playing with your trucks or your chain saw, singing the Shema.

“Shema Israel, Adonai Elohenui Adonai echad…”

Sometimes in Hebrew, sometimes in English. And it’s in those sweet moments that I don’t know why any of this surprises me. You’ve known these words from your birth, sung over you as a lullaby in the womb, resounding within you as if they are the anthem of your life.

“And you shall love the LORD your God with all of your heart, and all of your soul, and all of your strength.”

You’ve been the boy of heart and soul since the beginning. One day, you’ll be a man of heart and soul. And then the words of this ancient prayer will mean something to you. They will define your life, your every move, in ways you never thought. You’re too little to see it now, but as I watch you grow I somehow know these words will etch their way into your very core.

Because our God gave you this beautiful gift of stunning capacity for life. Which means He also gave you a stunning capacity for love.

And so my little bear, when you are all grown up, remember that on the day you arrived and we gave you the name “Huck,” we blessed you with a name you could grow into. A name that calls out the best in you: to be a man of heart and soul, a man who seeks the aim of these ancient poems you’ve grown up with. A man who finds rest for his soul in the very heart of Yahweh.

Right now, you’re a beast of a little boy, and I know one day you’ll be a man to contend with. Not because of your strength, or power, or mental aptitude, but because of the song in your little heart. Because of your name. Because you’ve known the Shema since you were two.

Huck, the one of great heart and soul.

Women of Wisdom

It started with six women. Six of us sitting around a table, right after the lockdowns had ended. We were all starved for connection, and the needs around us were great. So many churches were still not meeting. Small groups had dissolved over night, and many women had no community of faith around them. It was a divisive, isolating, and unsettling time. It was clear to us that now more than even we needed to offer a good Bible study, in person, with committed leaders.

And I remember as we talked, we had a lot of questions. What’s the biggest need? What would we study? Where would we meet? Would anyone even show up during a time like this? We sat around a table, asking God to guide us and keep our hearts aligned with His. 

In the end, women showed up. They piled into a home with their Bibles and got to know each other. Some of them were lonely. Others were going through the process of losing husbands, losing children. Some were scared, tired, broken, and needed a community around them. And others were happy, excited, and ready to give. It was a perfectly orchestrated group. God brought just the right people.

Over several months and a few bumps along the way, our group grew, then shrank, and then grew again. In less than two years, two of our leaders were hospitalized at some point. We said goodbye to one leader as she moved across the country and welcomed a new leader who recently moved to our area. We had our share of naysayers and roadblocks, but we kept at it, quietly nurturing what God gave us to work with. 

Today, we had 27 women show up to study the Bible. More importantly, we had 27 women leave knowing God a little better, understanding a little better how they fit into His story. 27 women in fellowship with each other. In some small way, 27 women were equipped to go and do the work of being a Jesus follower. And friends, I’m here to tell you that’s life changing.

It’s hard to see the progress when you’re in it. You don’t notice the slow, week-by-week journey of two steps forward, one step back. The wrestling we do with God and man. But after months and years (and eventually what I hope becomes decades and generations) you get some traction. It’s the lifetime of discipleship we’re interested in. 

I’m so grateful for the testimony this group has become. We have women from all different backgrounds, ages, and church traditions (at least 4 local churches are represented) coming together in unity around the Word. They bring their own unique perspectives, questions, and gifts, and it makes us all better. And they are devoted to prayer, to the Scriptures, to each other, and to carrying His love out of the church building and blessing the people in their lives. If that isn’t Church, I don’t know what is. 

I don’t know why God burdened me with a heart for this kind of thing, but He did. God put in me a heart that is wrecked for my brothers and sisters who desperately want to know Him, but have not been equipped or trained in how to know Him. For those who long for more than the surfacey, feel good, fleeting interactions with their Bible but always come up short, with nothing to lead them to lasting change. He’s given me a heart for teaching my brothers and sisters who are broken, disenfranchised, bored, and confused in their walks with God. I’ve shed a lot of tears and spent hours upon hours in prayer during many a sleepless night carrying this burden to Yahweh and asking Him to give me the wisdom to lead others. Because who am I do to this? What do I know?

I often wish it was a different burden. Something easier, something simpler. Because it gets heavy when you’re a young female burdened with heart and mind for teaching others. You don’t look the part and you don’t fit the mold, so people tend not to take you seriously. But God gave me this, and He knows me, and I can’t not care about the men and women who show up in my life wishing they knew God better. 

So yes, this thing is small. It’s just a little group in a small town that isn’t doing anything spectacular or extraordinary. But today my heart is full because Psalm 1 is happening here in ordinary people, in faithful women who show up and desire Yahweh. 

This is their testimony. You don’t have to be a pastor to understand God’s word. You don’t have to be a “churchy person” to be made new. You don’t have to memorize every verse in the Bible to lead a Bible study. You don’t have to be a man to teach. You don’t have to be someone you’re not to be the person God longs for you to be. 

These women have humbled me with their strength, their knowledge, and their wisdom. They are women of valor, full of grace, and brimming with love. They bring their brains to their Bibles so that their minds can be transformed and their hearts can be made new. I am so proud to be an ordinary woman coming alongside a group of ordinary women, seeking wisdom together. Because friends, I’ll say this, if there’s one thing the enemy knows it’s this: the most dangerous thing in this world is a human full of God’s wisdom. 

Pure as the Driven Snow

A Blessing for Asher

You started out a bundle of bronze flesh,

pearly bone set in a babe,

birthed into a world full of pain– tears and heartache my fate.

Worry and bitterness crept into kill me,

took all my pride, my reason for living.

Why did this happen to me? And now why a baby?

So when I saw you coming, I fell down running

from all that threatened to come for me, gunning.

But just one look at you, and I was remade new–

You’re pure as the driven snow.

Smiles and sunshine, happy and bright. You’re all that is good in a world that’s not right.

Some got the brains and some got the brawn. Some got the beauty, charisma till dawn.

But you’re the

s

w

e

e

t

heart,

making the stars

b

u

r

s

t

with light.

In wonder and magic you breathe out your days. Sweep us up into your warm, sugary ways.

Your honeyed laughter kisses our home. Little feet running, there’s joy in your bones.

It’s why I love you–

you’re pure as the driven snow.

Burden and blessing, this world goes round. Toil and labor and lies abound.

You never see the mistakes.

Drift over the holes that we make.

Your

v

a

l

l

e

y

s

and hills,

swirling into the sky.

Love, joy, peace, happiness, you never try

to be what you’re not, to be who they want. It’s why we need you–

you’re pure as the driven snow.

Some will have wit, and some a great style. You’re gifted with the most beautiful smile.

One that they’ll try to take,

an advantage to exploit and remake

into a weapon of strife,

into dollars and favors, false life.

You must remember . . .

that God brought you mid-winter

to take a heart that was splintered

and

d

o

w

n.

To pick it up off the cold, frozen ground,

and help it beat again

with love pure as the driven snow.

Someday this world will mock you and beat you,

slap you round silly, threaten to eat you

alive.

And the only way you will survive

is to run to

the One who makes you

pure as the driven snow.

You’re pure as the driven snow.