Miracles Between the Trees

Last Sunday, after my duties with the orchestra were completed, a fellow musician and I awkwardly made our way to the only seats available, the very front row.  Then I sat in that front row and listened to a powerful message called “Between the Trees.”  You should really go watch or listen to the whole thing, but for the purpose of this blog post, here is the bottom line:

The garden of Eden was full of light and joy and meaningful work.  After Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God cast them out of the garden.  He assigned angels to guard the Tree of Life, to protect Adam and Eve from eating of its fruit and living forever in a broken world.  (Yes.  Wow.)

At the other end of the story, the Tree of Life is described as a central feature in the heavenly city, bearing fruit in abundance, growing on both sides of a great river of life.  This city will be full of light, and joy, and meaningful work, and the Tree of Life will produce fruit enough for all of us to have plenty.  (Yeah.  Wow, again.  I swear, when this pastor speaks, it’s like I’ve never heard these stories before.)

But right now, we live between the trees.  This part of the story, between the trees, has brokenness.  Violence.  Hate.  Selfishness.  Insecurity.  Illness.  So many things are void of light and joy and meaning.  But…there are miracles.  Supernatural miracles and everyday miracles.  Things that fill us with light, and joy, and meaning, in the midst of brokenness.  Perhaps, Pastor Mark proposes, God is giving us little portions of true reality, of how things are supposed to be, of how things are outside of the brokenness between the trees.

And fitting for celebrating Thanksgiving, I see so much good between the trees!



On Monday, a student brought something she had made over the weekend.  A ribbon will a flag for each member of the class, including myself and the teaching practicum student that is with us for a couple of months.  This girl worked so hard on these flags.  The classroom is a busy, stressful, demanding place lately, and love shines through anyway.



A conversation with my two-year-old niece at 5:30 in the morning one day recently:  “Have lunch, please?”  Yes, we can have breakfast.  Are you hungry?  “Yes, right here (pointing), my tummy?  My tummy feels hungry.”  What should we have?  Grapes?  “Yes, grapes.”  How about some toast?  “Oh, yes, toast, toast!!!  Yes, please!  Toast, please!  It’s so yummy and good!”  Okay, let’s go make some toast!  “Yes, please!  Make toast!  And butter?  Please?  Put butter on?  So yummy and good!!!”



On Sunday, I was grading trimester reading tests and having some really, really big feelings.  About data.  It turned out to be numbers I can live with, but still, disappointing, and a bit of an emotional ride.  I took a break to surf Facebook for a moment, and I found this video of Alondra de la Parra conducting a symphony rehearsal.  Such visible passion!  I love an animated, passionate conductor.  Then later that afternoon I went to an orchestra rehearsal of my own and had some soul-healing moments in real life.  I am so grateful that a little musical passion often seems to solve all my problems.  I’m so grateful that I’m wired with a soul-deep love for music.  I know it’s a gift not offered to everyone, and I can only hope that everyone can recognize a soul-deep love for something in themselves.


Liberal Arts

Several moments lately have reawakened my love for reading.  Conversations with friends, a good book that has consumed me, and a movie.  I recently watched the move Liberal Arts, and the characters just made me love myself a little more, strange as that may sound.  Anna is only in the movie for a small portion of the story, but she made the biggest impact on me.  She seems unwilling to compromise who she is and what she loves for what people expect her to be.  She says she is trying to read less and go be social more, but not because of what the world expects, but because of the value she sees for herself.  Jesse, the main character, tells a college kid, “I have a soft spot for good readers.  They are hard to find these days.”  The movie is full of discussion of serious literature, trendy vampire novels, and classical music.  Watching it was like reading a good book – I wanted to highlight quotes I liked!  I’m so grateful for the off-beat, smart movies like Liberal Arts and lots of others that I love.  I’m so grateful for fiction (in the form of movies, TV shows, books) that make me feel inspired to do what I do and feel free to love what I love.  I’m so grateful for the propensity to be absorbed by a good book.



A few days ago I made chicken noodle soup.  Like, from ingredients.  Potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, chicken stock, herbs.  Bay leaves, for crying out loud!  I used a cutting board and a soup pot.  I scrubbed, peeled, and chopped.  The smells of simmering soup filled my house.  In my life, which is just as busy as I like it, cooking from ingredients is a rare treat.  And it always refreshes my love for my home!


There are the usual gratitudes of family, friends, health, home, etc.  And I love all of those things more than I can adequately describe.  But this life between the trees is full of small moments of passion, of light, joy, and meaning, of secret little moments that go unspoken.  I’m so grateful for them.

Remember Who You Are


The Family Stone is a movie that has become a regular in my Christmas rotation…and sometimes at other times of the year as well.  Amy Stone, played by Rachel McAdams, is the youngest of a family of adult siblings gathering for Christmas.  We find out from one line in the movie that she is a teacher, and her profession has no bearing on the plot of the movie at all.  And yet, because I know she’s a teacher, I’m attached to the moment in the movie when she arrives at her parents’ home.  She drives what would be generously described as a budget-friendly car.  She hauls two large tote bags of work.  She’s so crabby about it that when one of the bags falls in the snow, she angrily throws the other one down, too.  She has her clothes in a laundry basket – no stylish luggage for her!  And best of all, she seems to have thrown on the first eight pieces of clothing she saw.  She is so overtaken with the rest of her life that their is no energy left for putting together a presentable outfit.

In this one small moment of the story, I think Amy Stone is the most realistic depiction of a teacher that I’ve seen in movies or television.  I mean, maybe it’s exaggerated a bit for cinematic effect.  Maybe I don’t look quite as frazzled, maybe my car is more of a small, shiny red budget-friendly choice than a hand-me-down heap, maybe I travel with my clothes tossed into a giant ThirtyOne tote instead of an old basket…but that scene definitely captures how that overlap between the work week and family time can feel.

The last three weeks have been brutal.  The kind of brutal that makes me wonder if Starbucks is hiring.  The kind of brutal that makes me want to watch this little 10-second scene over and over again to feel that I’m not alone.

DEVOLSON, or whatever.  Except that I’m not sure Thanksgiving break will make it go away.

A little voice inside my head has been saying, “Remember who you are.”


I feel overwhelmed.  I feel the stress tangibly in my body, with stomachaches and a tightness in my chest.  I feel like I can’t get the bare essentials under control, and there is no hope for going above and beyond or actually excelling at anything.  I’m not ready for conferences, or the sub for my half-day meeting, or for the meeting I have with the literacy coach in two days, or even for my own teaching time tomorrow.

Remember who you are.  I am a living being, always in a state of change, flowing from one emotional state to the next.  This stress feels so strong that it feels permanent, but it isn’t.  Time will pass.  I will sleep.  In 24 hours, I will feel a little bit different.  In 48 hours, even more so.


I am focused on the data.  I have graded and analyzed the math tests from every possible angle.  I have a large collection of action steps I can take to respond to how the students did.  I want to pack them in, to fill our math workshop time with as many productive moments as I can.  I want to prove my superhuman capabilities.  I want to show my worth by raising my students’ scores impressively.

Remember who you are.  My value does not rest with the data.  My value does not rest with how well I do my job.  My value would not be proven by math scores, and my value would not be increased with superhuman time management and productivity in the classroom.  My value is proven by the fact that I am here.  Every breath in and out is evidence that I am worthy of a place on this planet.


I am too busy for community building.  I am too busy for classroom management.  I am too busy for relationships with the students.  If I have a 2-minute conversation with each of them, that’s an hour of our day, gone.  We don’t need to address behavior.  We can just hold it together, one hour at a time, day after day.  We don’t need to talk about it.  We need to do reading and math and writing and number talks and intervention time…

Remember who you are.  My calling is to build relationships, to create a community of learners.  To do all things with great love.  We do need to talk about it.  We need daily practices of sharing those “star stories” (things that happen that match our classroom agreements) and solving the problems that arise.  We need daily doses of playfulness and humor and connection.  We are not robots, and I don’t want to hold it together one hour at a time for the rest of my career.  I want to let the mess of relationships and character building into our day.


I am too busy for the needs of my soul.  I am too busy for stillness and solitude.  I don’t have time to light a candle, write in my journal, read something uplifting.  I am too busy for the needs of my body.  I don’t have time to exercise, to cook real food, to sleep.  When everything is non-negotiable, everything gets negotiated.  The math doesn’t work.

Remember who you are.  I am an eternal being.  Eternal.  The math is irrelevant.  “The same power that rose Jesus from the grave / the same power that commands the  dead to wake / lives in us.”  A good Jeremy Camp song can do wonders.  “We will not be overtaken / We will not be overcome.”  I have more power than I can feel when I am busy thinking about the math.


This season will be over soon, friends.  Or not.  Either way, remember who you are.

What Are You Modeling?

Think back on someone memorable, an adult who made a big impact on you when you were a child.  What do you remember well about that person?  Do you remember something they said?  Do you remember something you saw them do?  Do you remember a pattern of things, or single moments?  If you’re like me, you have a variety of answers, depending on the person you are remembering.

Now, think about these two questions:  What do you think the adult was intending to teach you?  What do you think he or she was hoping you would remember?

When you are a teacher (or in any way a significant adult in a child’s experience), it’s almost impossible to say for certain what choices are making a permanent impact, positive or negative, on your students.  I truly believe that the best thing we can do is to continue striving to live our own lives with integrity and character, and build positive relationships with the children in our care as well as the other adults in our lives.  But once in awhile, it’s good to reflect upon those things that our students might be seeing us do and hearing us say.

Yesterday, I was at a quilt show with family, including my 2-year-old niece.  She is impressively aware of her behavior and is visibly developing self-control.  Someone who doesn’t know her would be surprised at how few times she touched the quilts.  And each time she touched the quilts, her momma picked her up and talked to her about how she shouldn’t touch the quilts, and since she touched the quilts she would have to be carried for a few minutes and then she could try again.  And after a few unhappy moments of being carried, my niece would say, “Don’t touch the quilts.”  And my sister would put her down, and my niece would toddle around and look at the quilts (and people, and everything else) and keep her little fingers away from them for a good long while.

One time, I was pointing very closely at something on a quilt, and almost immediately, my niece touched a quilt and was picked up for her “momma time-out.”  I realized, when we pointed so closely to the quilts, it might look like touching.  So from her toddler perspective, it was possible that we were telling her not to touch the quilts, but we were modeling touching the quilts.  I decided to test this theory a little bit, so when she was just about done with her “momma time-out,” I picked her up and cheerily taught her how to point at things we like.  Then I set her down and followed her around for a few minutes, letting her choose what to point at.  A bright and cheery “Don’t touch, but point” became my mantra for a few minutes, and we oohed and aahed at bright colors and boats and butterflies.  It mostly worked, but it just as easily might not have, depending on if I was right about what she was noticing, or a multitude of other factors as well.

The point is, as a teacher (in any capacity of relating to kids), it’s good to examine not only my own choices and intentions, but also what I might be modeling unintentionally.  I might be wrong about their perceptions.  In fact, I certainly will be wrong sometimes.  I can’t read their minds.  But you will be close enough to right often enough to make this a very helpful thing to think about, in the classroom and beyond.

First Principles

It is raining…and raining…and raining some more today.  In fact, it rained so hard this morning that my school district canceled for the day, due to dangerous levels of street flooding.  So I’m just at home, catching up (finally!) on The Last Ship, watching the rain, and thinking about what happens when the “establishing” has gradually and subtly changed in to the “building” of a classroom community.

It’s easy to take a simple system and adapt it to fit your classroom community.  Make the chart, using colors that you like.  Put the right names on the clips.  Find a good place to hang it in your classroom.  Explain to the kids what it all means, and start moving clips around, in response to whatever happens: up for good things, down for bad things.

It’s easy.  Except…it doesn’t work.  At least, not the way I want it to work.  In March, you will still be moving the clips and giving the consequences.  I want students who are different in March than they were in September.

I want students who have more or better strategies for solving problems and expressing big feelings in March than they did in September.  Because, I want my students to be kinder, more compassionate, more responsible people after spending 180 days in my classroom.

I want classroom management to be less work for me in March than it was in September.  Because, less minutes I spend managing behaviors means more minutes I can spend teaching readers and writers and mathematicians.

If those two things are my goals, if those are the things that are important, then my “system” needs to be more complex.  It needs to be based on a way of treating people, principles about how we interact with one another.

Principle #1:  Children are not born innately hurtful.  They are simply born innately self-centered.

Children don’t innately want to hurt each other, or their parents or teachers.  They don’t carry an inner goal of seeing how far they can push you, or doing as much damage as they can, or making someone mad.  They do learn these things, and most kids have an understanding of how to hurt someone out of revenge or anger well before we see them in elementary school.  But this hurtfulness isn’t naturally inside them from the beginning.

Tiny children innately want their own needs met.  And as long as they are only aware of themselves, anything and everything feels like a need to them.

As soon as we start gently and kindly helping kids be aware of the feelings of the people around them, the majority of kids will express empathy and kindness in whatever ways they know how.  They need to be gently awakened to others-centered thinking.  They need us to model others-centered kindness and empathy, and sometimes to teach it explicitly.

Principle #2:  Problems will arise.  We don’t avoid problems.  We solve problems.

If there are no problems, it is possible that I am not allowing myself or my students to act like the human beings we are.  It is possible that I am expecting machines that always respond to a command with a certain response.  School (or dare we say, life) is for learning, and learning is for humanity, not machinery.

Embrace the problems.  Take time for the problems when they happen.  Having problems is how we can become problem solvers.

Principle #3:  The teacher is not the only problem solver in the community.  The teacher is a mentor for the other problem solvers.

Scenario:  Miles tells me, “Taylor keeps calling me ‘Moles’!  He just keeps on doing it, even though I asked him to stop!”  It is so, so, so tempting to walk over to Taylor and try to squash the behavior.

Don’t do it!

You are not the only problem solver in the room, unless you keep solving all the problems!  Be a problem-solving mentor to Miles, and leave Taylor alone.  Empathize with Miles’ feelings.  Discuss Miles’ options.  Ask the class for ideas for Miles.  Suggest a couple of ideas that Miles could try.

Over time, being a problem-solving mentor empowers Miles to solve his own problems.  Being the only problem-solver in the room sends a message to Miles that he has no power in these kinds of situations.

Earlier, we left Taylor alone, but let’s talk about him, too.  Being a problem-solving mentor to Miles sends Taylor a message that you will help him solve his problems, too.  If Miles has more things to try to get Taylor to stop, it gives Taylor more chances to see how his choice affects Miles, and more chances to learn to empathize with Miles.  And it sends Taylor a message that his choices matter, not just when the teacher is around, but when it affects any other human being.

Principle #4: Everyone is doing the best they can right now.  

Toddlers throw tantrums because it’s their only strategy.  Preschoolers grab toys away because it’s the best way they can think of to get what they want.  Second graders call each other mean names because they don’t have anything else to do with these big feelings of hurt or exclusion.

Many problem solving sessions in my classroom start off with me saying, “It looks like you wanted ____, but you didn’t know what to do, so you tried ____.”  Lots of times I have to guess or infer what they might have wanted, and sometimes I make it up altogether.  But choosing to speak in a way that assumes they were doing the best they could at the time leads the way for learning other strategies.

Choosing to speak in a way that assumes they were doing something bad and they need to be punished leads the way for the child to shut down, assume I am mad at them, be mad at me, and not learn a single thing that can actually help him the next time.

Before you move on to respond to a behavior, acknowledge out loud that the child is doing the best thing he can think of.  Even if you’re mad.  Even if you don’t think he is.  Even if your very big feelings say this child should move all the way down the clip chart and never have recess again.  Or worse.  Nothing positive will be accomplished if the student feels attacked.

The Real Miles and Taylor

I am looping with most of my students from last year, since I switched from 1st grade to 2nd grade.  So after a year of community building and problem solving, it didn’t take long for the class to fall back into the routine of solving problems as a class, with my guidance.  (I haven’t witnessed much independent problem solving yet, but I am on the lookout!  It usually appears in January or February, so I’m interested to see if it comes back sooner.)

The real Miles and the real Taylor, names changed of course, have experienced these principles, imperfectly implemented, for a year.  I’ve seen growth in them and the other kids, but it becomes visible in small moments.  I notice growth hours or days later as I’m remembering the conversation or the conflict.

A couple of days ago, Miles said, “I have a problem.  At recess, I was playing basketball with Taylor, and he kept missing.  Every time he did, I said, ‘Fail!’  I don’t think he liked it.”

That was it.  That was Miles’ problem.  He was doing something, someone didn’t like it, and he didn’t want to do it anymore.  He wanted help to treat someone better.  It was unprompted.  Taylor had not tattled on him.  It was after recess, not in the moment.  It was bugging Miles, and he trusted his community with his problem.

His classmates had two suggestions:  He could clamp his hand over his mouth when he felt himself wanting to say that.  He could say, “Try again!” instead.

And let me remind you, we solve problems like this all the time, but usually, it starts with Taylor tattling, and maybe I present Miles’ problem as a secondary problem, after we’ve solved Taylor’s problem.  This took A YEAR!!!  One year before Miles had an others-centered enough community mindset that he could present a problem where he was the one doing something hurtful.  One year before Miles could trust his classmates enough to ask them for help, unprompted.

Have patience and perseverance, my friends!


Agreements 1In my classroom, we make “agreements.”  I start by asking the students, on the first day of school, what kind of teacher they want.  Then on day two or three, I ask them what kind of classmates they want.  I follow that by a few days of “noticing things.”  I notice, out loud, when things happen that match what kind of classmates we all want.  The culmination of all of this is a long, long conversation about what we will do to be classmates like that.  We write these agreements on sentence strips and display them in a permanent place for the year.

Agreements 2

Then…the real work begins.  We need to become community members like this.  For the first week or two, I’ve held things together with my bare hands, or that’s how it feels.  I’ve kept my patience in check, and directed, and redirected, and reminded, and had them “do that one more time, a better way”…without any sort of list of rules or official, spoken structure to my classroom management.  Now, after agreements have been made and displayed, it is time to pass the responsibility of making decisions to the community members who agreed to all of this.  It’s time to put my eyes farther ahead, on character and values, instead of peace and compliance.

Agreements 4 Agreements 3

So, we solve problems.

Brady:  Kyle said that I’m weird.

Me: Oh, I’d be upset about that, too.  Why did he do that?

Brady:  Cuz he’s mean.

Me:  Hmm, I wonder why he decided to do something that would make you so upset.  I’m going to ask him, okay?  Kyle, what happened?

Kyle:  Brady said he didn’t want to sit by me.

Me: Oh.  I bet that made you feel sad.  (Kyle nods.)  Do you want some help from your classmates?  (Kyle nods again.)  Class, someone told Kyle they didn’t want to sit by him, and it made him feel really bad.  His feelings wanted to be mean to that person, but he wants some better ideas.  He needs our help.  Does anyone have any ideas for him?

(There were many ideas like:  Tell Brady you don’t like it when he says that.  Go sit by someone else.  Ignore him and just keep listening to the teacher.)

Me:  Class, I think we gave Kyle lots of ideas to try.  Kyle, let us know how it goes, okay?  But right now, I have a question for everyone.  What do we think about wanting to sit by someone, or not wanting to sit by someone?  What are we going to do in our class this year when we come to sit on the rug?  Do you think we should make an agreement about telling people we don’t want them to sit by us?  What do you guys think about this whole thing?

(Pivotal moment.  We’ve already come to an agreement that we will be kind.  Now I’m prepared to defend individual rights.  I’m expecting to discuss our way to the agreement that it’s okay to choose who you sit by, but it’s not okay to say something unkind.  I’m wondering how we can talk to someone whom we don’t want to sit by, and still be kind.  I’m hoping for some kid wisdom.  Big surprise for the teacher…individual rights is not the value that is growing fastest in our classroom community!)

Yasmine:  We can’t do that!

Me:  We can’t do what?

Yasmine:  You can’t tell someone they can’t sit by you.  It says on the door, ‘We are a school family!’  That means we are all best friends!  You should take care of all of your best friends!

(A chorus of, “Yeah!”  “Exactly!”  “I like that!”  And responsibility to our fellow community members wins the day!)

And suddenly, our agreement to be kind has a new application and deeper understanding.

But sometimes, the problems aren’t what we think they are when we start talking to the people involved.

Kyle:  I didn’t mean Brady couldn’t sit by me.  I’m just stuck next to this wall, and he was sitting too close.  I wanted him to move a little bit, but not sit somewhere else.

Me:  Oh!  So when you told Brady to move, you just needed a little more space?  (Kyle nods.)  Kyle, I have felt like that before, like someone is just too close.  It makes me feel wiggly, and kind of the same as being too hot.  Is that how you felt?  Class, have you felt that way before?

(The chorus of understanding is immediate.)

Me: Class, do you have any ideas for Kyle?  What can he do if someone is sitting too close and he needs a little space?

Miles:  He can say it different, like, ‘Can you move over a little bit?  I need a little more space.’  That way Kyle knows Brady isn’t being mean.

Lola:  He can come over here and sit where there is a bigger space.

Heather:  He could scoot a little bit the other way.  Well, I guess if he wasn’t right next to the wall he could try that.

Me:  Wow, we have three good solutions for this problem.  Kyle, what do you think you’ll try this time?

Brady:  Wait!  I’ll move over a little bit.  Then Kyle has enough room.

Me:  Thanks, Brady.  That was kind; making sure Kyle has enough room to feel comfortable.

And just like that, we’re back to a very simple problem solving.  But it’s worth the whole conversation, because we’ve strengthened the value of kindness in our classroom community.  And maybe, just maybe, we’ve changed ourselves and each other, just a little bit, for the better.

A Word for 2015-2016


I love education.  I am truly and deeply committed to learning as a value, as a lifelong virtue, just like kindness or honesty.

I took advanced placement calculus as a senior in high school.  It was my best AP score, and my college transcripts show that I earned college credit for calculus, as well as a couple more AP tests I took.  I don’t think I use calculus in my daily life; I don’t know what the practical applications are.  And yet, I firmly believe I am a better teacher (and would also be a better real estate agent or nurse or business owner) for having taken calculus.  And French, and chemistry, and my beloved English literature and composition classes.

The specifics of the content don’t matter as much as learning how to learn, learning how to master new things, learning how to tackle challenges.  Learning to value curiosity, creativity, diligence, and tenacity.  These outcomes of a good education are much more valuable than the actual content.

This deeply held belief is one part of the foundation of who I am.

And this is the time of year to intentionally remember who I am.

I am not the one who always wanted to be a teacher.  I have not felt, in these last 10 years of teaching, that I am “living the dream.”  Many teachers say this is their calling, but I don’t.  This is perfectly okay.

My calling is to build community, to establish and nurture relationships.  My dream is to be a force for love and kindness, to leave the world a little better than I found it.

There are many jobs that would be excellent places to express this calling.  And one of them is in the arena of public education.

It’s so very easy to get caught up in the “elementary education” of it all.  Data, reading levels, computation strategies, bubble sheets, pre-assessments, lesson plans, running records, number talks, shared reading, conferring with students, workshop model, project-based inquiry learning…  The district I work for does all of this pretty well.  (Except bubble sheets.  I don’t have anything good to say about bubble sheets.)  But it’s so, so easy to slip into the belief that one of those things, whichever one I’m talking about at the time, is the purpose of my presence in a classroom.

Lots of things are important.  Lots of things can be effective.

But the purpose of my presence in my classroom is the same as my purpose in any other room on earth:  love, kindness, building community, establishing and nurturing relationships.

In a word:  connection.  Nothing means anything without it.

May this be my word for this school year.  May I build a classroom community with deep connections.  May my little classroom family be a force for love and kindness in our school family.  May they take what they learn in my classroom and be little forces of love and kindness in their families and friendships.  May I bring kindness and connection to my relationships with my team and my colleagues.  May I continue to nurture the connections with friends and family through these busy 10 months.

May I return to remembering this word (and all the meaning it holds) whenever I need to.


The theme of my life the past few days has been:  You can’t capture something in a photograph.

But I keep trying.


The heat and humidity of July transform my view into a lush, green, vibrant scene full of life.  Oh, how I love this place I call home!  I’m not spending much time on my deck this summer because a family of swallows has built their home up near the ceiling when I wasn’t paying attention.  I don’t want to evict them when they’re just trying to raise their children.  Full disclosure…also because it freaks me out when they swoop at me.  My tomatoes are dead because I stopped watering them, and it’s worth it to not be dive-bombed by angry bird parents!  So I will happily enjoy the view from indoors until they migrate for the winter.


A couple of months ago, the pastor at my church was describing spiritual gifts, and he described musicians and “conduits of the Holy Spirit.”  He said that when we play or sing, we allow ourselves to be a channel for God’s presence to flow through us into the people who are listening.  That perfectly describes my experience of playing music…not just at church, but so many of my experiences with singing and playing over the years.  I feel a power and divine presence sometimes that I often try and fail to describe.  Pastor Mark labeled it accurately.

Sometimes I don’t know how to choose a church, how to keep committing to be a member of this community of believers week after week.  Sometimes I don’t know how to decide if a point of disagreement is a reason to leave or not.  Sometimes I don’t know if the fact that I respect the pastor and love the ministry outweighs the fact that I am supremely uncomfortable with this church’s stance on one issue.  Sometimes I don’t know if this church thing is for me at all, when I’m really more of a “rogue Jesus follower” and I like it that way.

But when I sit with the view you see here, when the Divine is flowing through me and filling the room with power and presence…it feels like none of that matters.


Oh, this sky.  As beautiful as it is in the photo, it was even more glorious in person.  You cannot easily contain the size of the sky in a photograph, can you?

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